All That We Do
Last week my Dad made a spontaneous visit. He had wanted to take the boys skiing for over a year. When a window of opportunity presented itself, he drove the six hours to our house.
My Dad’s trip wasn’t to gratify the desire to ski as much as it was about building relationships with his grandsons. He had a set number of hours to give in the midst of a demanding schedule. He demonstrated great love by making time, but it wasn’t just through the trip itself. It was a hundred little acts I observed and have recalled since – laughing over underwear jokes with the boys, picking up something for Eric “just because,” giving us an evening out together, sharing his heart and listening to ours – all warm assurances of his affection. My dad left me thinking a great deal about what it is to love and how I can learn from his example to leave a loving legacy.
Regardless of culture or experience, we all long to be loved and love with excellence. Love isn’t solely a gift we were created to receive, but give. There are three habits we must form to love others fully:
Love well by putting others first. This flies in the face of popular thought and opinion – both secular and among many Christians. The thought that we should strive to love ourselves first is understandably popular. The last time I checked, Jesus didn’t have a mainstream message or mission. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that what he said about love turned everything upside down. You can read more about self-love in this post, but the life of Christ on earth was a demonstration of what it is to love others more. Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another” (John 13:34, emphasis added). Selflessness is at the root of true love.
Father, Please help me do what is impossible without you – to put others first and love as you love me.
Love well through a willingness to make sacrifices for the good of the other. Ephesians 5:2 says that Jesus “gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” It’s not an attitude of “what’s in it for me.” Love doesn’t grow in weeds of selfish expectation, obligation, or demand. It thrives when we sacrifice our own desires, comfort, convenience, or will for someone else. What showcases love more than when it has been given at personal cost? Sacrifice comes in various forms – most of which are never acknowledged. It’s made through the giving of time, energy, and service. The irony is that in great sacrifice is found greater joy for the giver.
Father, Teach me to live a life of sacrifice and service without complaint or desire of recognition.
Love well by making investments. Ironically, after talking about sacrifice, I think it’s the word “invest” that can be the most frightening for some of us. It hints of substantial, long-term acts that may seem daunting or impossible. Let’s consider the financial realm for a moment. A fortune is not required to begin the process of investing. One can take a small amount, and watch the sum grow over time. Investing in relationships is the same. It can transpire in the simplest of acts that say “You are important to me and I love you.” A reassuring hand squeeze to a spouse, the minutes spent reading a bedtime story, a caring message to a friend, or a heart-felt prayer for someone are examples of investments. Think of effective relational investments as small, but consistent, steps toward a profitable outcome for all involved.
Father, whether it be through small acts or great, help me be intentional in all that I say and do to make consistent investments of love in those You’ve placed in my path.
Loving well is hard. There are times that we will get in the way of our best intentions. We will fall short. We will fail. It is good news that God’s love is greater still! He is quick to forgive when we ask. He grows in us the desire and strength to do what is insurmountable without Him. Every breath is an opportunity to “practice these things” (Phil. 4:9). He develops our ability to love well as we follow in His footsteps.
We learn to love because we are loved perfectly.
“Let all that we do be done in love.”