What Does Love Really Look Like?

Debbie Bayer

Why is it so difficult to love people? When I read verses in the Bible about love, such as in 1 Corinthians 13,  I see that love is supposed to be patient and kind, that it does not envy, that it is not proud, and that it has no record of wrongs.  I also see words like “trusts,” “delights,” and “hopes” in relation to love.  But when I look around me, why do I feel like I see so many things in opposition to this list? 

More specifically, when I hop onto social media, negative emotions get stirred up that are hard to keep in check.  I’m going to reveal something personal here and when you first read it, you might gasp and say, “Oh my word! I can’t believe she feels that way!” But, I believe I’m not alone. When I scroll through my Facebook feed or Instagram account, I often see posts from friends that make their lives appear like it is AMAZING. The stars have aligned for them and everything is happening in their favor, but my first reaction goes something like this… EYE ROLL. And then, with bitterness and jealousy, I think, “How unfair is this for me?! Here I am attempting to live a godly life and I’m met with such resistance and trouble. At the same time, here they are, showing little godliness, but prospering so greatly!” 

Now, you can fault me for these thoughts, but I’m just being real! How can I possibly overcome this?? Well, I believe with my whole heart that the Bible is the number one manual for life. It holds ALL of the answers to a beautiful and successful Christian life. Looking at Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV),

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”  Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

In verse 37, God first says to love Him above all, and then in verse 38, to love others as yourself.  The only way we can truly love people the way God intended, is to love Him first. This takes daily renewal and dedication. What if we were to see past people’s flaws and love them in spite of their shortcomings?  What if we were genuinely happy when others prospered? What if we actually loved people as if their lives were our own? 

I remember having a conversation with my daughter Emily about her long distance running. She made a very profound statement, 

“I want others to do well, I just don’t want them to be better than me.”

Unfortunately, I think this is often how I feel about life…and I do not like it!  I pray that God helps me to love people who have wronged me, to love people who have it better than me, and most of all, to love people that do not deserve it. I would love to be in a place where I genuinely want people to prosper above myself and for my heart to be joyful for them. I want to love people who wrong me, even when they do not deserve it. Could you imagine all bitterness, anger, and jealousy leaving you and being replaced with joy, peace, and genuine love that only Christ can give? The only way to do that is to make Christ a number one priority. The remedy is to let His Spirit fill me to overflowing and seek his face daily. 

How can you and I realistically love someone who is undeserving today? How can we be an encouragement in the most genuine sense of the word? To be honest, I feel this is only possible through the power of God and His overflowing love for us that spills out unto others.  I pray today that God be a light into our lives, to help us be a more loving people. I have a long way to go, but with His help, I know I can be the person He has called me to be. 

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