A number of years ago it hit me. The bottom line. The point of it all. The central theme of our existence is love.
I’m not talking the fluffy you-scratch-my-back-I’ll-scratch-yours. I’m talking the real Jesus-love. The type of love that forgives and intercedes and does good to our enemies…and to the relatives that make us clench our jaws. (Of whom, for the record, I have none. Ha.)
God has been (somewhat painfully) teaching me how to truly love over these last four or five years. So on this Christmas weekend I thought I would leave you with 11 tips for loving well. Especially when love is…challenging.
11. Turn comparisons into thanksgiving. Don’t fall into that “er” complex. Because it’s hard to love others when we’re consumed with ourselves.
10. Turn criticisms into intercession. Instead of wasting time criticizing the weaknesses and failures of others, we may be the one called to stand in the gap and pray. Pray.
9. Turn frustrations into dance and praise. Admit it. Dancing changes everything. The next time frustrations weigh down, turn up your favorite praise song and dance. When we turn our eyes onto God, we’re in the position to truly love.
8. Purposefully pause. When we’re tempted to react to the unloveliness in another, choosing to walk away to gain perspective is absolutely vital.
7. Spend time alone with God. He’s the source of love. He is love. It’s through intimacy with Him that love can flow from us.
6. Ask for His vision of others. When God graces us with His vision of others, we see the heart behind their actions.
5. Be ready to forgive. All of us are in process. And all of us are human. Which means all of us will fail. Living in the place where we’re simply ready to forgive frees us to love without strings attached.
4. Release control (again). People and circumstance aren’t ours to control. (repeat as necessary)
3. Abolish expectations. People cannot fulfill us. Not fully. Not ultimately. God was meant to be our greatest soul fulfillment. Let’s place our expectation on Him.
2. Be all there. Put. down. the. phone. (I’m preachin’ to myself.) When those around us want to talk, let’s lay down any distractions, look them in the eyes, and listen with both ears.
1. Remember that you can’t do it. Here it is. The number one thing to remember. You and I can’t love like Jesus on our own. When love gets hard, we have to cling to Him and trust Him to love through us. He’s the Source of true love.
This Christmas weekend, let’s remember that He’s chosen us (yes, you and me!) to love those He’s purposefully placed in our lives. And when we allow Him to love through us — selflessly and sacrificially — we get a taste of the beautiful love that would move a Father to send His Son to a broken earth.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7
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Fill me, Lord…
What other tips do you have for loving well?