How to truly love others?

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #1

Hello friends! Jordan Thyer just had a talk in our church in the Philippines about God’s revelation. After the talk, I asked him about his advice on how emerging apologists would be solid in their apologetics. His answer was simply to love other people. To love them more than we love ourselves, without expecting anything in return.

As co-pilgrims struggling in our journey of sanctification, I would want to know how the Lord helped you in being able to love another person truly? The human heart seems at best selfish. What particular truths, or maybe disciplines, or experiences had helped you obey God in loving other people? I’m interested in all your insights! :slight_smile:

(SeanO) #2

@omnarchy Great question - I wish I had the answer! We are indeed feeble creatures when it comes to love. Here are a few bits of advice from others that have helped me attempt to love better, though I so often fall far short.

Reflect on God’s Grace

After the Pharisees neglected to wash Jesus’ feet and a woman who had lived a sinful life anointed His feet with her tears, Jesus said this “Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven–as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Self-righteousness smothers love faster than anything else in the world. Whatever you can do to remember the amazing grace of Christ - His love for us who deserve it not at all - we were blind, naked and poor before the Lord of Glory lifted us from the roadside, washed our wounds and clothed us in His righteousness. Oh that the King of Heaven was stricken for us - it is that truth above all else that can teach the heart to love!

Behave As if You Already Feel Love

C. S. Lewis said “Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

I think there is great wisdom there - the issue is not whether we feel love. But rather that we live into love. I think loving ‘truly’ is not about feeling but about action and the Holy Spirit. I do not think pretending to love is any use without the Spirit. It is the Spirit who gives life to our hearts and who empowers us as we obey God’s commands. God is love and the Spirit can fill us with that love and work through us in the absence of our feelings.

Love in Secret and Pray

I think the following excerpt from D. L. Moody is a good description of much of the love we find in the world - it is displayed publicly when necessary to maintain appearances. But in secret - in the heart - it is not there. To truly love others we must somehow - by God’s grace - love both in and out of their presence. We must not gossip about them or despise them in our hearts - but rather pray pray pray for their life, their family and their soul. Prayer and secret love are great teachers.

"There is a good deal of what you might call sham love. People profess to love you very much, when you find it is all on the surface. It is not heart love. Very often you are in a person’s house, and the servant comes in and says such a person is in the front room, and she says: “Oh, dear, I am so sorry he has come, I can’t bear the sight of him ;” and she’ll get right up and go into the other room and say, “Why, how do you do? I am very glad to see you!” [Laughter] There is a good deal of that sort of thing in the world.

I remember, too, I was talking with a man one day and an acquaintance of his came in, and he jumped up at once and shook him by the hand - why I thought he was going to shake his hand out of joint, he shook so hard - and he seemed to be so glad to see him and wanted him to stay, but the man was in a great hurry and could not stay, and he coaxed him and urged him to stay, but the man said no, he would come another time; and after that man went out my companion turned to me and said, “Well, he is an awful bore, and I am glad he’s gone.” Well, I began to feel that I was a bore, too, and I got out as quickly as I could. [Laughter] That is not real love. That is love with the tongue while the heart is not true. Now, let us not love in word and in tongue, but in deed and in truth. That is the kind of love God gives us, and He wants the same in return."

Make a List of How You Can Put Others First Daily

If I am not intentional I do nothing - I just go about my daily routine and ignore others. I have a lot to get done. But I think it would help to make a list of practical ways I could respond in love - just like Daniel purposed in his heart to do what is right while in Babylon. Here are a few suggestions from a blog that I thought were helpful.

What are some that you guys would add to the list???

  • Welcome people like friends rather than strangers
  • Look to the needs of others
  • Show hospitality
  • Allow others to take off their masks
  • Pray
  • Smile

How to Deal with Overwhelming Need

Sometimes it seems like there are so many ways we can serve, how can we choose? I really like what Andy Stanley says - “Do for the one what you wish you could do for the many”. We cannot support every cause or love everyone as they need - we need to narrow down what and who God is calling us to in this season of our life. Being overwhelmed can cause us to do nothing, but having focus can help us love others better.

Invite God Into the Process

This song was one that helped me invite God into the process when I was first saved. I think we are all unique and have different times in our lives where different songs, sermons, pictures help us engage with God in the process.

Looking forward to what others have to share! This is an area in which I need to grow - it is so easy to judge others rather than loving them.

(Brittany Bowman) #4

@Omnarchy, you have a wonderful heart in asking this question. Thanks for starting the conversation here. I’ve already learned a LOT that I will ponder from @SeanO’s response. I could spend hours on Connect just reading and reading, happy as could be. I thought of a Thinking Out Loud podcast, where Nathaniel discussed the difference between pain and suffering, pain being a physical condition and suffering an agonizing of the spirit. Perhaps the delicate path as Christians is to touch another’s suffering through love.

To do so, we must quite literally mimic Jesus, in that He entered into the daily lives of our broken humanity in order to walk and live with humanity. Perhaps analogies to this could be making eye contact with the cashier in the grocery store or something much deeper, of entering into someone’s brokenness by showing forgiveness. In such a frame, inviting a neighbor over for dinner could be a greater expression of Jesus’ love than simply buying an expensive gift, as it seeks to meet people where they are, like how Jesus came down to us.
Meeting people where they are then creates a trusting atmosphere to touch on their suffering, rather than their pain. The thread earlier today, with Ravi’s call to reach a world that is hurting, I think touched on the spiritual suffering, rather than physical pain. Therefore, perhaps to love like Christ is to first walk with one another’s brokenness, then to show them their greater value as children of God.

(Jacqueline Reynolds) #5

@omnarchy. This will not be a “deep” answer but I hope it gives you a small part of what, with the help of everyone else, will be a total response. I am someone who can be quite oblivious to things going on around me and I couple that with being a delayed reactor - it takes me a while to pick up on things that, to others, are quite obvious. Join that to the fact that I was a single Mom for 14 years (always busy) and it means that I stood a fair shot at missing many opportunities to care for others - loving them as God would want me to respond. I learned early in my Christian walk to ask God to “hit me with a 2 x 4” when He needs me to do almost anything. I also ask Him for wisdom “in the moment” as much of life happens quickly and there may be little time to pray about our responses at the time that response is needed most. In prayer I always confess my need for God to give me His heart for people, His sensitivities, HIs wisdom.

God is so faithful - I cannot tell you that I hear an audible voice but there have been so many times that while talking with someone, or while hearing of need that God almost slows down time and I catch a glimpse of how I am to love this person (what to say or to just listen) or contribute to a need, etc. It is not until much later that I see how God has used me to love people IN SPITE of myself and my shortcomings simply by continually offering myself to His use. Over time He has made me more sensitive to the needs of others but I still need work to love others more.

Now, there have been times when I have missed opportunities and I simply start again, asking God to show me the needs of others, to “break my heart with what breaks yours” and to reveal how He wants me to respond. He will also provide what you need when showing love to someone is beyond your human capacity - ask Him to love others through you.

This, like so much of life with Jesus, is a process and not always a straight line forward.

(Melvin Greene) #6

What a terrific topic for discussion, @omnarchy! Of all the tenets of the Christian walk loving others as much as we love ourselves took me the longest to fully understand. I think this understanding came to me a few years ago when I was going to college to be a drug and alcohol counselor. The thing that still amazes me it that I learned it in a secular setting by someone who is not a Christian.

I was sitting in class listening to a lecture on what makes a good and effective counselor. The instructor was this guy with long uncombed hair with a Harley Davidson T-shirt, faded, well worn blue jeans and biker boots. You would have never guessed he was a professor. In fact, you would have thought he was the one that needed a counselor! Anyway, he was talking about the importance for a counselor to have “unconditional positive regard” toward the clients. The thing that struck me was that unconditional positive regard is loving the client. As an illustration he told us a story of a client he once had. She was addicted to heroin. One morning she had woken up and was having withdraw symptoms. She started to look around her apartment for heroin, but found none. She was becoming quite desperate because she had no money to pay her supplier and the symptoms were becoming worse. In a bedroom, her 14 year old daughter was sleeping. She became so desperate that she called her supplier to come over to her apartment and made a deal to get her next fix of heroin by renting her daughter to her supplier. The professor paused there and there was a stunned silence in the classroom. You could see the looks of shock and disbelief as well as disgust and outrage. The professor said that the look on our faces is what he had felt inside as his client confessed this. He told us that as counselors we will hear a lot of things just as shocking from our clients, but if we are to be effective counselors and help people like this woman, we have to control these feelings. He said that once become angry, or disgusted with our clients we will not be able to help them. Our higher thinking will shut down and our emotions will take over. A good counselor will have to be able to understand what causes the behavior. This doesn’t mean we condone their behavior. We have to understand it in order to help them. What he said next really struck a cord with me. He said you have to look beyond the behavior and see the person as someone who is just trying to survive a horrible situation the only way they know how.

A thought came barreling through my mind like a runaway freight train. This is how I can love my neighbor as myself! I have to see past peoples behavior and see the person created in the image of God who is hurting and is just trying to survive whatever their situation is. Jesus thought these people were worth dying for just like he thought that way about me. I believe this is what Jesus did with the woman at the well, and with Mary Magdalene and countless others when he walked this earth. Jesus knew the sinful lives they lived, but he saw them for who they truly were: lost and hurting people just trying to survive in a lost and fallen world. If we can keep that frame of mind when we encounter people, we will be able to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Strange that it took about 18 years and a rough and crude biker dude to teach me that! God does work in a mysterious way!

(Katherine A Hooks) #7

I’m almost 68 years old and am nowhere close to knowing how to do this well but I can say from experience how God has changed me and still changes me. Adversity is one way we learn to love others. We may start with a haughty attitude until a situation similar to one we’ve viewed judgmentally comes our way. It humbles us and makes us sensitive to others. We pick up subtle cues, learn to let down our guard, open up about our failings and our experiences, and then that helps us connect with others.

Another thing that opens me up to love others is my daily moring time in the Scripture and prayer. That’s where the Holy Spirit comes and whispers to me. As I pray, He brings to mind people I wasn’t even thinking of before then. He prompts me to go to them, to write a note, to send a gift, to offer hospitality, to speak honestly about my concern for the path they’re choosing that will lead them further astray. He moves me to pray diligently for them and then take action. He keeps me involved when I’d rather ignore them and go my own way. In short, He aligns my will with the will of the Father. That’s what Jesus chose to do and that’s what He works in us if we spend time alone with Him. We become more like Him as we spend time with Him, and since God is love, then we will become more loving.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #8

I appreciate all your responses friends. May the Lord continue to sanctify us and help us love Him and other people more and more.

@SeanO: I agree with your assessment on self-righteousness. It’s really hard to love others when we feel that we are superior to them. The gospel helps in showing how patient God is with our sin. Thank you for the reminder on what C.S. Lewis said about not waiting to feel that we love a person.

@Brittany_Bowman1 Thank you for your insights. What you said about Jesus entering our broken humanity reminded me of how great the doctrine of incarnation could be used for meditation for me to appreciate God’s love more. Perhaps this would help me love others more.

@jreynolds Thank you for reminding me that it’s God himself, that it’s through His power that I should rely on in terms of loving others. Trusting in His sovereignty in bringing people in your life for me to love would help us in this pursuit.

@Melvin_Greene Thank you for sharing your learning through someone who is not a Christian. God’s common grace indeed helps us learn through people who don’t know Him. I’m reminded of my learnings through someone who does not believe God at work. I do know the feeling of how it’s hard to control the feelings we have towards another person who had done something wrong. It’s possible that it may come from a wrong and judging heart, and it’s hard to be understanding when we encounter this. Thank you for this learning, this may help me in loving other broken people I encounter a long the way.

@khooks03 Reading from you that you’re 68 years old and still struggling encourages me in this fight in following the Lord. Thank you for reminding me of how the ordinary means of grace, such as Scripture reading and prayer helps you in loving others, and also about adversity helps us in being more understanding. I do hope that I will be understanding before even experiencing a specific adversity.