Tuesday, January 29, 2019

5 Ways to Get Better at Loving Others

The Puritan Thomas Watson said, “Love is the soul of religion, and that which constitutes a real Christian.  Love is the queen of graces.”

Christianity is all about love -- God's love for us as demonstrated through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, and in response, our love for Him and for one another.  The greatest commandment, which is the sum of all the commandments in the Bible, is to love God, and to love others. 

The Bible says that our love can grow cold, and it can also increase (Mt 24:12; 1 Thess 1:3).  So what can we do to get better at loving others?

First, salvation.  You must be saved.  We don't love others to get saved; we can't love others until we are saved.  1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 

Second, learn how to love by studying God's word.  1 John 4:8 "God is love."  Study God’s character and commands.  How does God act?  How does God display love?  Henry Drummond, the author of the famous sermon "The Greatest Thing on Earth," suggests reading 1 Corinthians 13 (known as The Love Chapter) every day for a month.

Third, participate in church.  Hebrews 10:24-25 “24 And let us watch out for one another to provoke love and good works, 25 not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”  In church you will be around people who are striving to grow in love.  And you will be around people who are encouraging you to live a life of love.  This is one of the purposes of the church.  To provoke love and good works.

Fourth, pray for the strength to love.  1 Thessalonians 3:12 “And may the Lord cause you to increase and overflow with love for one another and for everyone, just as we do for you.”  A life of love is impossible without God’s power.  So pray.  Daily.  All day long.  “Lord, please help me to love.”

Fifth, reflect on God's love for you.  Luke 7:47 “Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.”  This is the story of a very sinful woman who experienced the love of Jesus.  When Jesus was dining at the home of a Pharisee, she entered and stood behind Jesus at his feet, weeping.  She washed His feet with her tears and her hair, and kissed His feet, and then she poured some very expensive perfume on his feet.  The other people at the table couldn’t understand her behavior.  And Jesus explained that her great display of love was in response to her experiencing God’s great love.  The more you understand God’s love for you, the more you will be empowered and inspired and compelled to love others. 

You have probably read the book Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo.  It’s the story of Jean Val Jean, a man who had spent 19 years in an awful, torturous prison.  When he is released, he can’t find work, and he can’t find anything to eat, and so he eventually finds himself in the care of a priest for one night.  The priest is kind to him and gives him food.  Later that night, Jean Val Jean decides to steal the silverware and run off, only to be caught by the police.  When the police bring him back to the priest so that he could confirm that Val Jean had stolen his property, the priest said, “He didn’t steal the silverware, I gave it to him.  But you forgot something.”  And the priest also gave him the silver candlesticks.  Jean Val Jean was so impacted by the priest’s love that it changed him.  He deserved punishment, but he was lavished with kindness and generosity.  He spent the rest of his life trying to show that same kind of love to everyone he met.

God has loved you with a remarkable love.  You deserve punishment, but God has saved you, and given you everything.  Let God’s love transform you into a person of love. 

Bonus Resource:  Sermon Video.  If you want to learn more about loving others, then be sure to watch my sermon "Growing in Love."

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