Loving others means that you are showing longsuffering kindness to others (see I Cor. 13:4-18). It is obvious that we are duty bound to love those who we are committed to such as family members and to a lesser degree, friends, and even lesser degree co-workers and neighbors.
However, I remind us that we are duty bound to love even our enemies, according to Matthew 5:44. Here are several suggestions in this area of Christian growth:
1. Love others enough to show courtesy. It is sad to see how difficult it is to get people to simply say, “good morning,” to one another. Some act as if smiling is painful or calls for too much energy. Lending a hand shake or opening a door seems so far stretched for too many.
Loving others should include a certain amount of courtesy. In fact, among believers, Paul talks about greeting one another with a holy kiss (see Rom. 16:16). This calls for more discussion, but we can surely say that a holy kiss would include some basic courtesy.
It is true that sometimes your friendly courteous spirit will be misunderstood and even taken advantage of. However, tweak your approach and keep obeying God’s word.
We don’t love because people are so lovable. Some are very hard to love (smile). We love because of God’s commandment to love even those who are difficult to love (see Jn. 13:34-35; Mt. 5:44).
2. Love others enough to evangelize. Although I am listing this early, it may not be the first thing that can be worked on directly. Understand that no matter what else we do, if a person doesn’t have Jesus in his or her life, they are still on their way to Hell (see Mk. 8:36).
You all can be very friendly and affectionate. You may help him or her to get a good job or out of a bad situation. But without Christ, Hell is still waiting. Visit Christian-Living-Site.com/Personal-Evangelism.html to see an article on personal evangelism. Evangelism is often at its best, in warm relationships.
3. Love others enough to respond to their perceived needs. If a person is hungry, they may need prayer, but their perceived need is food.
It is too easy for middle class people to forget how close some people live to the edge of their finances. We can forget how, while we are talking, the person we are talking to may be anxious about how they are going to satisfy basic needs.
Notice that Jesus made blind people see, lamb people walk, and gave hungry people food all in addition to teaching, preaching, praying, and forgiving. Let’s strive to be more like Christ. That is, let’s strive to respond to perceived needs, in addition to whatever else we are working on.
4. Love others enough to reform systems. This last idea can get ugly. It can surely get confrontational. If systems are causing harm, it is a loving thing to do to work towards fixing the systems.
For example, where there is no welfare, not child care, but unemployable young women with children, there is a system problem. Somehow the community must provide a way for the weakest to recover and move forward. In this case, it may be advocating for the provision of child care, while the mother goes to job training and get a job.
Another example may be to advocate for quality public education. If our young people don’t get a quality public education, they are almost certain to go to jail or an early grave.
Thus, in the name of loving others, you may need to get involved with not simply tutoring but with making sure schools have proper funds, are using funds properly, and are dealing with student behavior issues properly.
This can be a messy love. But Jesus turned over money tables, because the system needed to be reformed (see Mt. 21:12-13). In fact, He died, as a means of sealing the new contract between humanity and God. Let’s love others enough to reform systems.
In summary, loving others can be difficult. It often includes loving others enough to be courteous, to evangelize, to respond to perceived needs, and to reform systems. Please complete the feedback form below.
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Dr. Robert E. Baines, Jr. uses his doctorate of ministry degree and twenty years of pastoral experience to provide quality and helpful Christian living information to 1,000s of visitors a month.