December 12, 2018

Love Love

Gary Thomas — 

Last week, we talked about the need to hate hate. In this two-part series, we’re looking at the blessing of loving love.

 

No one has more joy than the person who has learned to love love. We’re not talking about loving someone merely as a duty but loving because God has made it the passion of your heart. Loving others becomes your favorite thing to do.

Hatred makes us sick. It poisons our heart. Love lifts us up to want the best for everyone. Imagine a life in which no one is your enemy, at least not in your attitude.

A person who loves love doesn’t know what it’s like to live with a heart soured by envy. We rejoice with others rather than think their success or welfare hinders ours. If our joy rises or falls with our own success, we can only be happy with the welfare of one person. In a fallen world, that’s like trying to balance on a beam one hundred feet off the ground—for the rest of your life. It’s only a matter of time until you fall. If, on the other hand, your joy rises with anyone’s success, you are made newly happy every time anyone succeeds or is blessed. Even in a fallen world, a lot of people succeed. So you’re made newly happy many times a day.

A person who loves love doesn’t have to worry about being “caught” or overheard. When you act out of love, there’s tremendous peace. If you are “caught” speaking of someone else, it will only bring you closer to the one you are speaking about because you speak only encouragement and blessing.

A person who loves love has tremendous hope. Because you want the best for someone, and because you believe in God, there is never a moment when you “give up” on someone because you would never give up on God. If you want the worst for someone, you are betting against God, hoping that he fails to woo them, win them, and transform them. Pity the person who depends on God failing for them to be satisfied.

If you love love you will live with many delightful opportunities every day. There are so many opportunities to show and give love that we will never be disappointed because we are not able to show love. And since love satisfies us, we are content when we love and we can always love, so we can always be content.

A person who loves love feels unusually close to God. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them” (1 John 4:16). You feel the favor of God, the fellowship of God, and the joy of God in seeing something good happen to and within someone. You align yourself with God and his aims and all the presence of heaven rejoices with you, increasing your own joy and happiness.

Indeed, one of the very best things about being a Christian is being freed from hate by living a life of love: “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” (Eph. 5:1-2)

How do we live such a life of love?

First, receive God’s love, daily. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). For me that’s prayer and Bible reading, letting God speak his love and grace into my heart. If I go a day without reminding myself of God’s affirmation, affection and approval, my love “runs out.” I can’t store it up. I need God’s love to be a continually flowing river. Otherwise, everyone around me pays the price.

Second, don’t treat others based on how they treat you; treat others based on how God treats you. One of the foundational thoughts of my marriage (shared in A Lifelong Love) is viewing Lisa as God’s daughter and God as my “heavenly Father-in-law.” That means rather than how she acts or treats me determining my response, my choice to love her is based on honoring my heavenly Father-in-law, to whom I owe everything.

Third, even when someone is a jerk to me, I ask God to help me have the attitude of wanting that person’s best. If they’re a jerk that “best” is to repent so confrontation may be necessary. But it’s always focused on them finding the acceptance of God and responding in kind to live a life of grace and love themselves. God loved us while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8) and we’re called to do the same.

Finally, don’t be discouraged and give up because you’re only in process. When it comes to loving love, I’m at about five percent of where I long to be and where God calls me to be. But I’m on my way, headed in that direction. I’m not going to let bad moments or even bad days deter me. I am convinced in the depths of my soul that this is the life I’m destined for. It is the most satisfying life. The most blessed life. The life of Jesus. So I’m going to keep pursuing it even though I’m such a poor example of it.

As believers, if we get just two things right, we will come pretty close to doing and being all that God asks us to do and be: hate hate and love love.

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6 responses to Love Love

  1. This is such a wonderful reminder that above all…LOVE is the greatest. Thank you for how you write and for sharing. This has been such a blessing to me today.

  2. Gary, this is excellent. Thank you for the reminder. God plants His love for the”unlovable “ in my heart. I am constrained to love…well. My Father deserves it and so does the one with skin whom I am loving on!

  3. I’m sorry I missed the one hate hate. This was beautiful.