Practicing Love 101: For Us and Our Children
Jesus told us that the greatest commandments were to love God and love one another. Augustine observed that sin causes us to curve in on ourselves – the opposite of love.
We want to train our children to love others and we want to practice these things ourselves.
But what does it look like?
Below, I have created a quick list of what you might call Loving 101 – The Basics. Church is a perfect place to practice these things.
Please Don’t Filter This Out
But before we start, I need to clear up an objection that may prevent you from hearing what I am saying in the rest of the article. You may find it hard to read these things because you have a certain personality. Perhaps you are introvert like me. “Chap, the things you are talking about are personality and that’s not me. I just can’t do them.”
Obviously all of us have different personalities but personality is not destiny. God wants to redeem and mold your personality too.
So how might we practice Loving 101? Here are a few thought to practice at our church, in our neighborhood, and in our home. Let’s also teach them to our young children.
1. Love with the affection of Christ Jesus.
Affection is a fondness or liking. Have you thought of Jesus as an affectionate person? Isn’t that one reason he attracted crowds? They saw him as open and filled with loving affection. Prayerfully ask God to fill you with the affection of Christ Jesus by the power of the Spirit. He can and will answer that prayer.
2. Love by greeting one another.
Did you know that one of the most repeated one anothers is “Greet one another,”?
Greeting is so important, God spends a whole chapter on it in Romans 16. Think of all the things he could have told us in one chapter but instead Paul spends time greeting his friends and coworkers.
Greeting one another is the most, most basic form of love. In Matt 5:47, in talking about we interact with our enemies, Jesus said, “If you greet only your brothers what more are you doing?” The obvious implication is to greet even our enemies.
But it doesn’t just stop there. 3 John 14 commands us to greet one another by name. In other words, it is even more loving to use someone’s name. Use this simple principle at home and church. Train your children to greet other adults.
3. Love by giving others the gift of a smile.
I can’t even go into all the ways a smile on our face blesses others. And of course you know it takes more muscles to frown than to smile. When I started preaching I would put the word SMILE at the top of my manuscript. Why? Because my nerves were coming across in my flat face. But a smile blessed everyone.
You don’t know what kind of week people have had. But you can give them the gift of a smile.
4. Love others by giving the gift of questions and active listening.
We love others by understanding them. Scripture tells us, The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters but a man of understanding draws him out – Proverbs 20:5 and He who speaks before listening it is to his folly and shame – Proverbs 18:13.
Have you ever known a person who is always talking about themselves? They never ask questions about you. It gets old doesn’t it? A good conversation is give and take between people with a real interest in each other. Love asks questions to get to know others.
5. Love the stranger among us.
We think of the command “Be hospitable with one another,” as having people over to eat. But the word itself is xenophileo – stranger love. Love of strangers. Love of those who are different from us and we don’t know. It is the opposite of xenophobia which is fear of the stranger.
We express love when we welcome the stranger, when we make him a priority before our friends. An acquaintance has shared that, “My husband has three rules of engagement when we go to church. 1. An alone person in our gathering is an emergency 2. Friends can wait 3. Introduce a newcomer to someone else.” This is love expressing itself in very practical ways.
Love has many facets including these five. It will take the power of the Spirit to express them. But we can grow this way. And we can train our children also.
Praying for you and your family.
This content was previously shared as a podcast episode. Listen here.