Learning To Love
Text: 1Co 13:13 But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love.
The most misunderstood word in the world is "love". We use the word to describe a variety of things. So if one doesn't understand what the word really means then that would entail difficulty in giving or receiving love.
Love is not just a feeling, but love produces feelings. These feeling can be very powerful, but love is far more than a feeling.
Sometimes we talk as if love would be out of ones power to control what we feel about loving. But the Bible teaches that love is controllable. In fact, Jesus Commanded that we love others (see John 15:12). His words indicate that we do have control over whom we love and whom we don't love.
Love is a Choice:
Note: In verse 12 the Scripture stresses that we are to "put on" the attributes of love. Not only when we feel like it, but we wear it like a cloak. We decide to put love on regardless of our feelings.
Love is a Conduct:
1Jn 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither with the tongue; but in deed and truth.
This verse attaches love to our conduct or our actions, not just with words or our tongue.
Four Greek Words that differentiate different types of love:
When the Bible speaks of God's love for us and the kind of love we are to have for Him and for other people, the word is always agape. That means a commitment to act regardless of how we feel. That means we can love unlovely people. It is a matter of obedience to God's laws. Sometimes God will bring some difficult people into our lives. Jesus never commanded that we have warm affections for everyone. We don't have to like what they do, but we are commanded to love them. How do we do that?
The Bible gives us FIVE steps we need to take to learn to love people. We CAN learn to love anyone if we take these steps.
Step 1: Experience God's Love - Before we can love others we must feel and understand how deeply God loves us.
God wants us to "feel" His love and He wants us to "understand" His love. Why? Because God first loved us (John 4:19). We love because God first loved us. It is important that we feel loved by God because unloved people are often unloving people. When a person does not feel genuinely loved, they don't feel like giving love. Jesus said in John 15:12, "Love each other as I have loved you". That's the model the Lord gives to us
Step 2: Forgive Your Enemies - Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
It is impossible to love someone fully and at the same time resent someone else. You cannot give total love if your heart is divided. A bitter heart is a divided heart. We have to let go of the past to get on with the future. There is one way to close the door on the past forgiveness. Forgive those who have hurt you, for your sake NOT because they deserve it. Do it so your heart will be whole. Stop rehearsing that hurt over and over, release it.
Step 3: Think loving thoughts -God's word reminds us in Phil 2:4-5,
Don't just think about your own affairs, but be interested in others too, and in what they are doing. Your attitude should be the kind that was shown by Jesus Christ. So, what does it mean to think loving thoughts? It means to begin to focus on other people's needs, hurts, problems, desires and goals, not just your own.
So we look beyond people's faults and see their needs. Then we can learn to love. The least lovable people are those who need the most. Everyone needs love. If a person can't get love, they will strive for attention. If they can't get positive attention, they will work at attracting negative attention..
When we change the way we think about someone, we will gradually change our feelings about them. Instead of thinking about a person's faults, begin to think about their needs, it will change the way we feel and our heart will be open to love them.
Step 4 - Act in Love - Act in a loving way
It is easier to act my way into a feeling than to feel my way into an action. Not only do our actions influence our emotions, but our thinking also influences the way we feel. We can attack feelings from either side or from both sides. How you think can change how you feel or how you act can change how you feel. Either way you can decide to change your feelings by thought or by actions.
Luke 6:27-28 gives us instructions which is a command from our Lord.
If we are to love our enemies would entail overlooking their faults. The word of God instructs us to do four things:
If someone is hurting you it is necessary for you to overlook their faults. How do you do good to those who hate you? Look for ways to give to them to serve them or to meet their needs.Blessing them that curse you includes the words that we speak to them. You seek for ways to lift them up and encourage them. This too takes actions on your part. We pray for our enemies and ask God to bless them and show them His goodness. We believe what the word tells us in Romans 2:4 that the goodness of God leads to repentance.
Step 5 - Expect the Best - Expecting the best may be a difficult task, but love expects the best.
When we expect the best from someone we bring out the best in them. Try treating your enemies the way you want them to become. This is a good way to change anyone; a child, mate, co-worker or those you are in contact with daily.
Love does cover a multitude of sins.