Verse: 1 John 4:7-12
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 this is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 this is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Let us love one another – love is born of God – whoever does not love does not know God. Man – look at that. We are called to love; love is from God and if we don’t love it shows that we don’t know God. That feels heavy and a bit scary. So how do we love? James Leonard and I have debated this for years, literally. And if I’m honest, I would set him up with others and say out loud, “James doesn’t believe that love is a feeling!” and then walk away and let him defend his position. Which let’s be honest if you know James, he is completely capable of defending his position. I believed at the time that love is absolutely a feeling! Now that I look back, I believe that it is both a feeling that I have for people that I already love, and also an action and a choice for people who are harder for me to love. See, it’s easy for me to take the actions of love for those that I have loving feelings for, but so much harder for me to naturally take those loving actions for those that I don’t have those loving feelings toward.

So, what does that mean? We are called to love everyone – let me expand on that – everyone means all humans – those we agree with, those we don’t agree with. We are called to love those that bring us joy and those that frustrate us. We are called to love those that make our lives easier and those that challenge us. Love also means that we aren’t putting out our judgement on others at every turn either. We are loving people where they are, how they are, and who they are today. God didn’t send his Son and say, his saving grace applies to you once you have it all together, so can we really ask or require that when we are in our own sin and not perfected?

So, what doesn’t love mean? Love isn’t agreeing with everything that everyone does, that isn’t required. (and quite frankly, it would be so strange to agree with everything that anyone does or says!) Love doesn’t even mean really liking a person, you know the saying, “I love you, but I don’t really like you right now.”? It’s true, because love isn’t only a feeling, but a choice and action – you don’t need to like the person or their actions to choose to be loving toward them.

So, what does love in action mean? It could mean standing with those in marginalized communities even though you don’t understand what they are going through. It could mean helping someone going through addiction without judging if they are far enough through to not “misuse” your help. It could look like giving money to the person experiencing homelessness on the side of the road and not assuming that they’re going to go buy alcohol, drugs, or something else that you don’t approve of. Or even if they are, is that your problem to worry about? It can also be as simple as choosing the kind words over the zinging retort you’d really prefer to give. Love should not come with strings or quid pro quo’s. Love (in our feelings and actions) should be freely given the way God freely gave Christ as a sacrifice for our sins.

God, thank you that you have provided the perfect example of how to love in action and sacrificially. Please show us today where we have room to love others more fully. Show us who you are calling us to love today and how we can show love in our actions.

Author: Candice Gifford