Love. How do we walk in love?
Well, it's all tied to our obedience. When we obey Jesus, we will love more. So the real question is: How does love show itself?
To walk in the light we first need to receive Jesus. We then need to let His light shine through us by choosing light over darkness. To do that, we are required to be truthful about what is going on in our lives and the lives of those around us. Thirdly, we need obedienceactually choosing to do what Jesus says, and not doing what He says is sin.
All three of these together (walking in His light, shining His light, and being obedient) will show lovelove to God and love to others.
So the question still is: How will this love show in our lives?
I have struggled with this in the past. I come from a family that loves me, but we never talked about it much. Then, as a young adult, I heard 'I love you' from some people who didn't mean it. The combination of these two attitudes caused me to put up some huge barriers in my life.
One that still makes me laugh happened a few years ago. We became friends with a couple who said 'I love you' to everyone. (Notice they said it to everyone, but I'm the one who had a problem.)
When they said it to me, I didn't know what to say. I would be on the phone to one of them, and at the end of the conversation they would say, "Love you." Each time, I would break out in a sweat trying to figure out what to say. Perhaps "Thank you," or maybe, "That's sweet."
Now they had no idea what they were putting me through because, remember, I'm the one with the problem. I would hang up the phone and talk about it with Chad and the kids. "What should I say? They don't love me; they don't even really know me."
For weeks, maybe even months, this went on, until finally I just started saying it backeven though in my head I was thinking, 'They don't love me.'
That, my friend, is the key. I didn't think they knew me well enough to love me, because I had the wrong picture of love. Love isn't always a feelingit can be, but not always. Love is a choice, and they chose to love me because I am part of their familyjust like you are part of my family because we are in God's family, through Christ.
Can you identify with this struggle? Can you think of a similar situation in your own life?
In Acts 9:1-17 we can see this concept played out. Read this passage of Scripture and then answer the following questions.
Is Saul a friend of Ananias?
Did Ananias want to become Saul's friend?
In verse 17, what does Ananias call Saul?
Do you see the concept? Saul was an enemy of the Church, and Ananias would have preferred to stay away from him. But as soon as he realized that the Lord had chosen Saul, he was willing to call him "Brother." Are we willing to do the same?
Do you know, once I came to grips with hearing 'I love you' from people who didn't know me but loved me based on my being part of the family of God, I was able to extend that same kind of love to other people.
People need to be loved by us, especially if we are brothers and sisters!
Another example of love is when we are willing to put aside what we want, for the good of someone else. If you are a parent, or have really good friends, you will have done this. As parents, we regularly give up the things we want in order to provide things for our children. As friends, we are often willing to go and help, even if we have other plans.
When we are walking in obedience, God is going to use this type of love in order to serve others.
I remember the day I showed up on Eloise's doorstep, Bible in hand, asking for guidance. I know now how busy her life was, but because of her walk with God, she opened that door and let me in. Eloise had no idea how time-consuming I would be (not to mention how crazy I drove her at times), but she was willing to do for me what she would have done for any close friend.
God is so giving that we will always reap a harvest of love in return when we show this kind of love to others. Today, I would do anything I could to help Eloiseall because she loved me before she knew me. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Please read Romans 5:8. In this verse, when does Paul say God loved us?
How did God show it?
More than likely, we won't have to physically die to show our love for another person, but self will have to die in order for us to love like this.
Can you remember a time someone loved you before they knew you?
More importantly, can you think of a time when you have loved someone just based on obedience to God?
Can you think of a way God wants you to love like this?
Love is a huge concept, and it shows itself in so many ways. However, for this study I feel God wants us to focus on showing love toward people we don't know well. Although it's just as important to show love toward the people we do know, we are probably not as good at showing love to the people we don't know well.
I have struggled in this area so much because I don't easily let people into my life. Deep down I'm scared of two thingsyou won't really love me, and even if you do, you may hurt me.
Over the last few years, God has really stretched me here, and I have discovered a couple of things:
Even if I get hurt, I'll live through it!
If we have the common bond of Jesus, you'll like something about me, just as I will like something about you.
The benefits of allowing people into my life far outweigh the risks.
When it comes to loving others, where do you see yourself right now? Do you find it easy to reach out in love, or is it hard?
In order to reach out to people we don't know well, we have to be willing to get to know them. Does that make sense?
If we are scared of people hurting us, we will never reach out because, truthfully, they may hurt us. It's a vicious cyclewe don't feel loved because we don't show love; we don't show love because we don't feel loved. The cycle continues, over and over and over and over.
Occasionally we may reach out and something will happen to make us say, "Never again!" The only cure, I have found, is to keep reaching out. If we do this enough, we will find some keepers, and we will also find some hurters. The keepers will make up for those who hurt us and move on.
As I write this, I have a picture of fishing in mindwith the fish you keep and the others you throw back. The good thing is that although you may have to throw back some relationships for a time, you may still be able to re-catch them later as keepers!
Let's see if we can see this in the Bible. In Luke 17:11-19 we can see Jesus reaching out, showing love and finding the keepers.
What parallels can you see between this passage of Scripture, and how we have to be willing to take the risk to show love, regardless of what may happen?
Out of the ten, how many came back?
Do you think that stopped Jesus from reaching out in love the next time?
So far this week, we have looked at love from the viewpoint of someone who is handicappedme. Thankfully, as I have let Jesus heal my heart, I have reached the point where I am able to see both sides of the coin.
Once we get the most broken parts of our hearts together, it's then time to make sure the love we are showing matches God's definition of love. We sure don't ever want to be someone that others call a "thrower back!"
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 we see God's standard of love. From this passage of Scripture, make a list of how love acts:
My favorite is "Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." If that's God's standard for how we should love, then that means that's how He loves us.
He always protects us, so if you try to hurt me you will have Him to go through. You may hurt me, but I know God will take the brunt of that hurt.
He trusts us because He knows His Son lives inside us, and that part of us is hidden in Him.
He always hopes for our best. He knows His plans for us, and they are good! He always hopes we will choose Him daily.
He always perseveres, and He is going to get our attention because His love never fails! We will see Him face to face, and I believe He will persevere until we are able to hear Him say, "Well done my faithful servant."
I'm always sad to come to the last page of our study together. During the four weeks of this study, I have learned to walk differently, and I hope you are taking some new steps also.
When I wrote the week on obedience, I thought that was painful, as God said to obey Him in several key areas.
Then I hadn't thought that much about love until I started writing about it, and you know what? Love is hard. It's hard if you share some of my hang-ups, and it's hard even if you don't. That's because when we love like God, we are going to have some people who never come back or even say "Thank you." I guess the comfort comes from knowing that if they would do this to Jesus, why should we expect anything different?
Oh, but that one person who came back and said "thank you" I bet Jesus remembers his face even today. (And yes, I know that's not good theology, with Jesus being Jesus and all, but you know what I mean.)
Can you tell I'm rambling because I don't want to end this week?
I know some of you by face, and some of you by name. There may be a few who I don't know by either name or face, but the Spirit of God within us has brought us together for this study, and this one thing I knowI'm crazy about you all. You bring out the best in me; you make me follow closer after Jesus.
That's why I love you all. In sharing with you, you share with me. That's lovesharing what you have, and letting others share what they have with you. So thank you for sharing with me. You are all keepers!
Today is our prayer day, so let's pray for each other:
God, we love You so much that we want to walk in Your light every day. The truth is our Bible, and we stand on it by being in it. We obey because we know You are good, and the plans you have for us are for us. We love because You first loved us, and we will keep reaching out, over and over again, until we see You face to face. This we will do because love never fails!
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