According to the good book, in John 13:34 Jesus commanded his followers to love one another. This commandment is repeated throughout the New Testament as a reminder of the importance of loving your fellowman.
Showing love is at the center of Christian belief, but how can you really practice loving others in your everyday life?
The examples of love in the bible are always coupled with actions and this demonstration of love is what we should all aspire to, however it can be tricky to know how to demonstrate such a feeling.
But we needn’t find it challenging, as God has left us a wonderful guide to assist us and show exactly what we can do to show love to our human companions.
Let’s look at some scriptures from the bible and also examine how Jesus was the very epitome of love.
1 Corinthians `3:4-8 -“ love is patient and kind “
Encouraging another person is a great way to show you care. It’s a positive thing to do and shows you support loved ones and want them to do well. It helps them feel hopeful and that they have a friend to rely on in times of hardship. A word at the right time can make all the difference to someone who is struggling.
Jesus spent much of his time encouraging his disciples to be loving to others such as in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 where he says“ Therefore encourage one another and build another up, just as you are doing”
and Hebrews 10 :2-4 “And let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another”.
Encouraging another person also involves being happy for them when they do well and are successful. Jealousy and envy are negative qualities and can eat away at a person, causing them damage and inflicting pain on others.
Pray for Others
1 Corinthians `3:4-8 -“ it does not envy”
As a believer, praying for others shows they are in your thoughts and love even covers feelings for enemies. Praying for others shows that even if you don’t fully understand some peoples’ actions, you have enough awareness to know that we all behave in certain ways for a reason.
Asking God to help your enemies, as well as your friends, shows compassion and a hope that they will change their ways.
Jesus was the finest example of this. He prayed consistently for others to his heavenly father, especially his beloved disciples. Jesus love was so far reaching, he even prayed for the people that tortured him. At Luke 23: 24 we read“ Father forgive them, because they know not what they do”.
1 Corinthians `3:4-8 – “it does not boast, it is not proud”
Arrogance is an off-putting trait and doesn’t help people feel loved or valued. Pride comes before a fall,and it’s important to develop a humble attitude if you want others to believe you love them.
True love attempts to put other people’s feelings above your own, how can you show this?
Always ensure that you listen to those who want to talk to you and do so without judging. Don’t blame others when things go wrong. Listen to constructive criticism and if people reproach you, try to look over it and find ways you can diffuse situations and cover it with kindness.
Never behave as though you are more important than another person. This will alienate them, making them reluctant to share feelings and create doubt about your true feelings.
Jesus was so humble he came down from heaven to give his life in behalf of imperfect humans. Although he was God’s son, he was respectful towards his earthly parents and showed love to them by obeying them. He was a truly humble man and always put others needs ahead of his own.
Part of being a Christian is adopting traits that Jesus Christ was clothed with. After all, the very meaning of the word Christian is ‘Christ like’. Jesus never looked down on people regardless of their personal situation, views, or race. And he always shared social occasions such as meals with everyone.
Jesus held open his arms to all. There are many scriptures that show that he interacted with children and even played with them, not sticking to his own age group. He valued females and never made derogatory remarks based on gender.
He sat down and ate with tax collectors and even Samaritans that were viewed as non-believers. Furthermore, he even touched lepers as a way of showing he cared and allowed them to receive affection that they were sadly lacking.
Even today, on his heavenly throne, he welcomes those who want to build a relationship with him.
To truly imitate Jesus Christ, include everyone when showing hospitality. Invite people around to your home for meals and gatherings regardless of their social or material status. Make them feel welcome and at home, and never make them feel like they don’t belong.
1 Corinthians `3:4-8 – “ it is not self seeking”
Loving others involves doing things for them selflessly and without expectation. It may be that someone is in need of something you may not like to do, but real love will move you to do things even at your own expense and inconvenience.
Jesus Christ served others throughout the whole of his short earthly life. He spent his time performing miracles to heal the sick, and on many occasions flocks of people would come to him for healing.
Never did he get angry or frustrated but understood that people were desperate and spent his days serving others. In fact, he made the ultimate example of love by dying for each and every person alive today.
Striving to be empathetic is the best way to serve others. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is invaluable. Feeling someone else’s pain helps you see things from their perspective, enabling you to help and assist them in the best possible way.
1 Corinthians `3:4-8 “ it is not easily angered”
Avoiding conflict is a vital way to show love to others. Living a peaceful life means that friends, family, and anyone that crosses your path need not fear that you will direct hateful words to them or provoke them in any way.
If issues do arise, be quick to solve them in a calm and loving manner with the view of making peace and restoring calmness and fellow feeling.
It’s very easy to say things as they come into the mind. But it’s crucial when communicating with others that you carefully consider your words. Words can cause much hurt, and it isn’t possible to unsay them.
Jesus is the most peaceful man to walk the earth and as a result people flocked to him and wanted to be close to him. Never did he initiate an argument or allow himself to get angry at other people’s words and actions. Even when enemies such as the Pharisees attempted to provoke him, he remained calm and peaceful, replying only ever peacefully.
Another way to be peaceful is by exercising patience. You show your loved one that they are valued by exercising this quality. It shows that you love someone enough to see past their faults and appreciate their virtues.
Patience is also contagious. By being patient with others they are more likely to be long-suffering with you, contributing to a truly positive relationship with others.
1 Corinthians `3:4-8 – “ it keeps no record of wrongs”
Forgiveness is the very essence of love. To forgive someone for wrongs done against you shows you are truly a loving person. If you love a person, you can choose to let go of all they do that hurts you.
Choosing not to forgive is very damaging to the person who caused the hurt and the injured party.
Of course forgiveness does not mean that you are immune from feeling pain when someone hurts you, but you make a conscious decision not to allow it to destroy relationships. Forgiveness allows the healing process to start for both parties.
Jesus forgave everyone, whatever their wrongdoing. And he didn’t just forgive the people that loved him he also forgave those that hated him. In fact, when he was suffering the worst fate whilst dying on the cross, he uttered words to his father asking him to forgive the people killing him.
What a fine example to follow. If you think you are a sinner without redemption, pray to God and ask to take Jesus into your life, he will forgive you the same as he did others in times past.
Be Positive About People
“Love does not rejoice in evil”
It’s never nice to find out that people have been saying negative things about you behind your back. It’s upsetting and puts bad feelings between friends. Gossiping and insulting others is not loving and shows disrespect and a lack of tolerance and understanding.
On the other hand, speaking highly of others is an excellent way of showing people you love them even when not in their immediate company.
Complaining about others contributes to a negative mindset. There is plenty of hatred, unrest, and war in the world, it’s important not to contribute to it and talk highly of others whatever the circumstances. If everyone did this, the world would be a happier and more peaceful place.
Jesus spoke highly of all of his acquaintances and loved ones. He was never derogatory or rude, and you would never find him complaining about the traits or actions of others.
Even when his own disciples denied him and left him, he still spoke about them with great affection. He points out in James 4: 11“ Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one that speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law”.
Speak the Truth
1 Corinthians `3:4-8“ but rejoices with the truth”
Sometimes it may feel that having an honest conversation that may hurt another person is the very opposite of love; however, telling others what they want to hear doesn’t help them in the long run.
The ability to speak the truth, however painful, is an act of true love. If a person is doing something that is clearly wrong, it’s important they are told in the spirit of love and support.
When approaching someone to give them potentially painful truths, it’s vital you do so in a spirit of kindness. Be gentle and not critical, and talk with them privately. Be positive and offer help and support where possible.
Jesus was a great example of someone that always spoke the truth. He never avoided people who needed a rebuke. His ethos is that the truth will set you free, and he wanted people to be free.
This is supported by the scripture in Ephesians 4:15 when he says “rather, speaking truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him that is, into Christ”.
Be There for Others
1 Corinthians `3:4-8“ it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”
Taking on other people’s burden is another way to show true love. When others are weighed down it’s hard for them to ask for help, so offering a helping hand to get them through their trials will help make their burden easier.
To truly carry the burden of others, it’s essential you become “slow about speaking and swift about listening” . Listening to others as they pour out their problems is a vital part of being a good friend and showing love.
If someone is troubled by something, ask questions, draw them out. Don’t be quick to offer solutions or give opinions, sometimes people just require a listening ear.
Jesus always bears the burdens of others. He took the burden of sin and received punishment for our benefit.
One thing love is definitely not is biased, racist, misogynistic or prejudiced.
You should not limit loving only those who share the same race, skin color or gender as you. Love sees beyond outward appearances and focuses on what people are inside. True love is able to see deep within someone’s soul and find all the good a person has.
People are not born being racist or prejudiced; it is learned behavior, so it’s wise to follow the example of children who are simple and see beyond physicalities.
True love is also able to exist despite differing opinions and morals. Diversity is the spice of life,and you can learn from people who differ in opinions.
Keeping an open mind will make all relationships easier and enable you to practice true wisdom by entertaining ideas and opinions you may not necessarily agree with.
Finding common ground is usually possible when people disagree, so endeavoring to do this will ensure that any conversations don’t deteriorate into anger or personal insults.
It’s Important to always reinforce the positive feelings you have about a person when discussing potentially dividing subjects.
True love should be strong enough to rise above disagreements in the spirit of mutual respect and openness.
1 Corinthians `3:4-8“ love never fails”
Loving others in the same way that Jesus did is a challenge. After all, he was a perfect man, and we are very far away from perfection. However, by being more mindful about interactions with others, it’s possible to display love in everyday life.
No one is perfect, and you won’t a;ways say and do the right thing, but by always being mindful of others and putting their feelings above your own you will successfully show love in your day-to-day life in imitation of the greatest example, Jesus Christ.