Driving to work this morning the first part of a bumper sticker caught my eye. I don’t remember the 2nd part, but the first part was, Love People. It’s simple enough to say, but not always as easy to do, or at least as it should be. And why is that? It’s complex. It can be hard to give love or be loving because we’ve been hurt, we’ve lost, been abandoned, trust has been broken, we are afraid, or even because “religion” has made us self-righteous and judgmental. Ouch, right?
So, how can I change? How can I better Love People? Here’s what I’ve been meditating on. Whether at work, in a store, in traffic,… wherever, I will love people more effectively if I remember:
- Why Jesus came. It was because God so loved/loves the world. He hates sin, and that it separated us from Him. So he sent Jesus to pay the price for our sin -for ALL the sins of every single person. Not just for me, but for every person I will ever see or interact with.
- Why Jesus died. See every person through His eyes -as loved by Him. No ones sin is too large or too small – he paid the price for it all! While we were yet sinners — imperfect, deserving of judgement, full of faults and failures — Christ died for us! He did it for me and every other person because He wants ALL to be reconciled to God through Him, by receiving the salvation he offers.
- His love. That His love has been shed abroad in my heart, making me able to love others. It compels me to want share His love, so others will know how wide, deep, and unfailing is His great love for all of us.
- To act like Jesus, follow his example. You can read in the gospels that He: Forgave. Touched the sick. Took children in his lap and blessed them. Fed people – provided for them. Rescued them. Not only healed people but made them whole. Loved people right where they were at – imperfect people like Zaccheus. Did not condemn the woman who was to be stoned or the woman at the well. Ate with sinners and publicans – was not ashamed to be with them. And demonstrated the love of God to all and for all.
Putting it into practice. Sometimes loving is just giving a smile or a hug, a kind word, cooking a meal, or my giving time. Sometimes it’s praying for that person who cut me off, asking God to pour out his love and grace on them. At other times, it is preferring someone else over me by doing what pleases them, or “their way.” Sometimes it might be giving a gift or finances that they need.
I will always have opportunities to practice and improve. But, I will be most successful in loving others when I follow the Holy Spirit’s lead. After all, that is what Jesus did. He said, He only said what He heard the Father say, and did what He saw the Father do. And, He gave the Holy Spirit to be my teacher and guide – so I can know what to say and do too. I am so grateful!
Here are some of the scriptures referred to above: John 3:16, John 14:26 (see chapters 14-17 — so good!) , II Corinthians 5:19-21, and Romans 5:5-10.