Loving Well

pexels-karolina-grabowska-4197491

These days, in between loads of laundry and grocery store trips for more milk, I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships—specifically, what does it mean to love others well?

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus issued one of His famous commands: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

I love the sound of this, but if you’re like me, you struggle to discern what that looks like in the day in, day out of our lives.

We’re coming into a season of holidays and celebration, gift-giving and tidings of good cheer… but I know for many, this “most wonderful time of the year” comes with a mixed bag of emotions.

Throw a lingering pandemic and looming presidential election in the mix, and we have all the makings of an explosive firework show of epic proportions. If we’re honest, we could probably all identify at least a sliver of anxiety tucked into the gentle melodies of that Christmas music many of us already have playing.

In a season of comfort and joy, sometimes loving others well feels anything but holly jolly. What do we do with our twisted emotions?

The friend who’s difficult to love?

That neighbor who makes you want to pull your hair out?

The coworker who causes you to run in the opposite direction?

That family member who has you thinking of boycotting the holidays this year?

The Problem

Our culture adopts a twisted, self-serving sense of “love.”

We boil down potential mates to a single profile picture and list of interests. We scroll through all the wins and high points of our friends and “friends.” We’ve torn down the walls of privacy and replaced them with iron bars that, whether meant to or not, often prevent true intimacy from occurring.

It’s as though we know everything and nothing about one another. All the while, we plod along, craving genuine, unconditional love—the very love we’re so often slow in doling out to people in our lives (guilty).

Nearly every advertisement and cultural norm around us—indeed, our very sin nature—points us toward a selfish, self-seeking type of love.

Is it any wonder Jesus told us to love others as we love ourselves? As our Creator, he knew doing so would not come naturally for us.

Reality Check

Loving others as we love ourselves is one of those hard, hard truths for followers of Christ. I want love to be a feeling. I want it to come easily and naturally… but God requires that we love at all times, whether we feel it or not.

If that wasn’t enough, Jesus really threw down the gauntlet in Luke 6:27-28:

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” (NIV)

Ouch. When I hold my love up to this standard, I too often find myself lacking. Add this to the list of “things I wish Jesus hadn’t taught.”

The New Testament contains nearly two dozen references to this radical love, with calls to:

  • “Be devoted to one another in love” (Romans 12:10)
  • “Serve one another humbly in love” (Galatians 5:13)
  • “Bear with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2)

 

Jesus was so focused on His mission of loving God and loving others—even to His dying breath. And we are to go and do likewise.

Finding Peace in Release

I can hear you asking the same question that I ask: but how? I believe the answer is found in the simple and challenging word release.

The world screams the message that we must hold onto our rights with an iron grip. We’re bombarded by the call to live within a quid pro quo paradigm of love.

But as Jesus so often does, He’s woven the counterintuitive into His great command. Just as forgiving others releases you from the grip of bitterness, so loving others paves the way to a heart of peace and rest.

Releasing love, even when it isn’t easy, deserved, or fair, acts as the express pass to a heart and mind free from the icky entanglements of our twisted emotions.

And here’s the really great news: we don’t have to struggle alone. What God has called us to, He equips us for (see Hebrews 13:20-21).

If this makes you squirm, I’m right there with you—so may I close by extending a challenge to us both?

Is there a person who came to mind when you read this? Picture him or her in your mind and—deep breath—ask God to show you how you can specifically love this person well.

Maybe there’s a phone call you need to make. Or an email you need to send. Perhaps there’s a kind act of service you’ve been putting off.

Let us take a chance and lay down our “rights,” grab ahold of God’s capable Hand, and ask Him to supply the love needed to accomplish such a task.

God is waiting to dazzle us with His supernatural ability to supply grace, freedom, and pure agape love beyond our capacity… He simply asks us to take that first obedient step in faith.

In this season, step in my, my friend—and be blessed by what the Lord will do in your heart and the hearts of others!

With Grace,

Be Still

by Meredith H. Carr

Download my latest book, Be Still, about how to practice the art of stillness in the midst of turmoil.

3 Comments
  • Cecilia Torres says:

    Dear Meredith thank you for being so honest, open and encouraging us to obey God’s commands. Indeed, love is a decision, a daily decision. Regardless of our feelings or arguments, we should ask God to empower us to love. Also, it is really important to remind us how God loves us, how God forgives us, How God is patient with us, in order to do likewise with others.
    Love your writings. God bless you.

    • Yes and Amen, friend!! So true, we must remind ourselves how well God loves us… when I focus on that, it becomes a whole lot harder for my flesh nature to justify withholding love! He is so good to us. Thank you for reading and leaving such encouraging words–I appreciate you! Blessings, friend <3

  • Beverly Thaxton says:

    Hey Sweet Meredith!

    I learned from teaching middle schoolers with flying hormones that I can love them but not love what they do! There is a big difference. That has helped me understand God’s unconditional love a bit more. Love the person….I don’t think it means we have to love what they do!

    When I got onto students for misbehaving some would say back to me, “Mrs. Thaxton you don’t like me do you?” I would always respond, “honey, I love you I just don’t always like what you do in my class!” I embraced the opportunity to tell a student I loved them….especially when I wondered if anyone in their life had ever said that to them.

    In my adult life, I’ve learned to ask the Holy Spirit to love the adult person I am having trouble with through me. Now that’s an amazing experience! God will share His unconditional love if we ask.

    Proud for you sweet Meredith,
    Beverly

Leave a Comment:




Your Comment:

Share this post

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

Subscribe

Sign-up using the form above and be the first to receive my new posts.

©2020 Meredith H Carr

Free Download

Be Still

Use the form below to download my latest book, Be Still, about how to practice the art of stillness in the midst of turmoil.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.