This is the second command that Jesus gave to us after He said to Love God. He stated it several ways and then He gave us the “how” through John’s gospel and epistles. We can love because we are first loved by the Father. This is key and I emphasized this as “our part” to receive love in my last blog.
What does loving one another actually look like in real life?
Let us start by asking yourself how you feel loved. It is an action, a verb, in most cases when we think about how we have felt truly loved by another. Perhaps a need was met, or something was done unexpectedly to benefit us or bring us joy.
The foundation of feeling loved begins with being known. When we know someone, we can more easily love them in a way that they can receive.
Gary Chapman has a book Love Languages, and a test on how to best determine yours. There are ways we give love and ways we receive love. To be aware of these is a good place to start – and conversations with those you love are a fun way to learn how they feel loved. We do not want to miss the mark and continue to do things lovingly if they are not feeling loved by our actions. How do those in your life feel “loved”?
Also, we can look to 1 Corinthians 13 to better understand what love is, and how it looks when we are operating in love. These verses are a proposal by Paul, inspired by Jesus as the Word of God, on how we can demonstrate love. And we can do this, or it would not be suggested that we can in the Bible. The Lord will not set us up, telling us to do something that does not make it possible. When we are being loving, it needs to exhibit these qualities. And because we have Love Himself dwelling inside of us, we get to tuck away that flesh, and rest in His Presence as we purpose to love others in this way.
So, when we seek to understand and to get to know those in our lives that we love, we can do it patiently, kindly, humbly, without insisting on our own way; we can show love by not getting irritated when we are conversing, and fully listen to them.
When we are actively loving, we rejoice in the truth, and bear all things, believe all things, hope in all things, and endure all things. This is demonstrated with making eye contact, removing all distractions, and acknowledgement of engagement in conversation. Asking questions only for clarification, and not solving or judging. Reflecting, “This is what I have heard, is that right?” Our goal is to have them respond, “yes, that’s it”.
Listening well is perhaps the beginning of loving well.
When have you last listened well to your loved ones? Give it a try, the next time you encounter an excited child about a silly game they just played…a friend that is venting about a frustration in their life…or a spouse that is weary in this season of so much uncertainty. Listening well is a way to show love, and maybe if we all start there, and really hear what those in our lives are saying, we can help them to feel known, and ultimately loved.
I purpose to do this better, starting today!