A dear friend recently asked, “Jesus told us to love others, but how do we generate that love?” What a great question! We often hear of ways to show love to others, but how do we bring about love for those we don’t know, those we don’t like much, or even those we resent? Well, it is important to first talk about love.
When we think of love, our minds usually go to a feeling. In Greek, that “loving feeling” is referred to as eros (romantic love). But in the New Testament, there are other types of love: storge (love between family), phileo (friendship), and agape (unconditional). One of the most well-known Bible verses on love is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” One important thing I have learned from this verse is that God chose to love and chose to sacrifice. Likewise, when Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another,” He meant that we must choose to love others. There is so much more to biblical love than emotions or feelings, it is choosing to do something for someone else regardless of how you feel about them, who they are, or what they can or can’t do for you. Biblical love is based upon action. It is literally “love in action.”
None of this, however, really answers my friend’s question. How do we generate the love that Jesus calls us to have for one another? The answer is very simple, yet profoundly difficult. You see, being a follower of Christ means that we are bound by what He commands us to do. Our lives are bound by the One whose name we bear. So, Jesus didn’t really give us an option when it comes to loving one another; He gave us a command.
Do you remember when you chose Jesus to be your Lord and Savior? When you did, you chose to follow His commands. Well, loving others, putting love into action, is also a choice. You don’t have to like or even know someone in order to serve them, pray for them, or want God’s best for them. It doesn’t require feelings; it requires action. So, how do we generate the love that Jesus calls us to have for one another? We remember that God chose to love and sacrifice for us. Then, we simply (or not so simply) choose to love and sacrifice as well.
Grace and Peace…Steven