by Valerie Morby Posted Feb 10, 2021
They say “love is all around.” At this time of year, that’s especially true. At least, the reminders of love—and hearts, and Valentines, and romantic songs—are all around! If only loving others was as easy as buying a heart balloon at the grocery store or splitting a container of conversation hearts with them. (Although let the record show: I actually love those heart balloons.)
Throughout the New Testament we are reminded of the importance of loving the people around us. In Matthew 22, Jesus instructs, “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’” In John 13, He says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” And in Galatians, Paul tells us, “For the whole Law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love others as you love yourself.’” Yet it’s so difficult for us to actually walk in this truth and carry out these commands!
One barrier that stands in the way of our showing love to others: our personalities. In this age of quantifying ourselves as an Enneagram number or staking our identities on introversion/extroversion, it’s all too easy to say we can’t love the people around us because that’s just not the way we’re wired, or that it just doesn’t come naturally to us. That’s sin and fear talking! God calls us to more. He equips us for more, and He’s bigger than an Enneagram number or Myers Briggs type. He’s bigger than being an introvert who finds it awkward to step up and show up for people. Every day the Lord is calling us to love others the way He has loved them! And that’s a tall order—but one we can rise to because He has equipped us and commanded us to do exactly that.
Another reason we excuse ourselves from this call to love is our circumstances. So many things stand in our way of caring for others and putting them first, from our financial limitations to our current pandemic restraints. Now is an especially difficult time to show love in the form of doing things for other people like bringing them dinner or babysitting their kids. We can’t just throw up our hands and give up, though. We have to be more persistent and determined in our love—we may even have to get creative! God gives us the power to rise above our circumstances and love the people around us, whether that’s leaving treats on someone’s porch or texting them to say they’re in our prayers. He is able to do ALL things—even help us step up and show love when it’s inconvenient for us!
Finally, a major roadblock to loving other people is… other people! People are HARD to love—especially if we don’t agree with them, get along with them, or approve of the way they live. Maybe you’ve tried to do things for people in the past, and they weren’t even thankful—it can make you wonder why you even bothered! The tough thing to reckon with is that we are all fallen people. And we’re always going to need help with this. Francis Chan puts it this way: “The fact is, I need God to help me love God. And if I need His help to love Him, a perfect being, I definitely need His help to love other, fault-filled humans.”
Praise the Lord that we’re not doing this on our own! He calls us to love others, but there’s just no way that we’d be able to pull this off on our own. Jesus set the ultimate example for us on how to do this, from washing feet to speaking truth to ultimately laying down His life. And He’s with us as we attempt to love His people just as He commanded us to.
Seek ways to love others. We’re God’s representatives on earth—what a glorious calling! Let’s love people even when it’s hard, when it pushes us out of our comfort zones, and when our sinful natures get in the way. Maybe that looks like mowing someone’s lawn for them. Maybe it’s consistently checking in, asking how they’re doing, and offering to stop and pray with them right then and there. Or maybe it’s buying them a simple heart balloon from the grocery store.