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Friday, February 23, 2018

Learning to Love Others the Way God Loves Me

In review of 1 Corinthians 13:7 it says, “Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up” (GW).

Bottom Line:
Love should never stop or give up.

What this means to me:
Love on my part is something that should continue on regardless of my patience, belief, or hope. Love never gives up.

In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul tells me that I could have the greatest gifts in the world, however if I don't love others, I would be nothing. If I don't love others, I gain nothing. He explains that love is:
Patient, kind, not jealous, not boastful, or not rude. Love does not demand its own way. Is not irritable. Will keep no record of being wronged. Will not rejoice about injustice, but rather rejoice when the truth wins out. Love on my part should never give up, or lose faith. My love should be helpful. It should endure through every circumstance. In summary, Paul indicates that love is more important than all the spiritual gifts exercised. Love makes my actions and gifts useful. People may have different gifts, however love is available to everyone.

The culture I live in often confuses love and lust. Unlike lust, God's kind of love is directed outward toward others, not inward toward myself. It is utterly unselfish. This kind of love goes against my natural inclinations. It is impossible to have this kind of love unless God helps me set aside my own natural desire so that I can love and expect nothing in return. The more I become like Christ, the more love I will be able to show to others.

The same love that God gives to me, he wants me to offer to everybody else that I come in contact with. It’s not an option or a suggestion. It’s a command from Jesus himself: “Now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 13:34 NLT).

As a follower of Christ, I must love everybody, whether I like them or not, in the same way that Christ loves me. That means I am to accept them completely, love them unconditionally, forgive them totally, and consider them extremely valuable.

When I love others in this manner, my relationships will be transformed.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:7, “Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up” (GW).

This is how God loves you. God never stops being patient with me. God never stops believing in me. God never stops hoping for the best in my life. God never gives up on me. And that’s what God wants me to do with everybody else.

“Love never stops being patient.” That means love extends grace. I offer grace to others.

“Love never stops believing.” That means it expresses faith. I tell someone, “Even though we’re having a tough time, I will never stop believing in you.”

“Love never stops hoping.” That means love expects the best. Am I expecting the best in my marriage, or have I settled for less than the best?

“Love never gives up.” That means love endures the worst. It means I can look at the other person and say, “You can throw everything at me, but I’m going to keep loving you, no matter what.”

To start transforming my relationships today, I pray: “Dear God, I admit that I have made a mess in my relationships. They’re complicated and broken, and I’ve often settled for less than the best. They need a transformation! I’d like you to begin by changing me. Deliver me from my fears, because I can see how they make me distant and defensive and even demanding. Today and every day from now on, I want to surrender my heart to you. I want to learn to live my life in your love and be filled with your love.Help me to accept others, just as you’ve accepted me. Help me to love others unconditionally, just as you have loved me. Help me to forgive others totally, just as you’ve forgiven me. And help me to value others as much as you value me. Help me to extend grace to and express faith in the people around me. Help me to expect the best in others, and help me to endure the worst when it happens. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.”