Love has its basis in Creation. You are made in the image of God – that is who we are. God loves us and goes to great lengths to save us. This tells us that we have great value in God’s sight. Everyone you know has great value in God’s eyes. This is the basis of the two greatest commandments.
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”Matthew 22:37-40, NLT
The apostles Paul and James reflected this important truth.
Galatians 5:14 For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
James 2:8 “…It is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Showing kindness to the least, the last, the lost, the lonely, and the unloved – extending God’s grace in its various forms to the hurting, hated and heartbroken people He brings into our lives is our calling.
In a pandemic where we have been isolating – and now slowly re-entering into public life – there are challenges to love. Here are seven practical ways to love your neighbor.
Love Others Like You Want to Be Loved!
The spirit of the command is that we show genuine concern for others.
Matthew 7:12 Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
We generally think of ourselves first, we know what makes us feel loved, accepted, and encouraged.
When we wonder how we can express love to others during this pandemic, we find our answer when we ask what would make us feel loved? Then do that!
Love With Empathy!
Empathy is identifying with the feelings and hurts of another as if it were happening to you.
Romans 12:15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
Love sometimes means we weep with those who are sorrowful, sitting with them in their sorrow and not trying to fix it. At other times we rejoice with those who are happy. There are many different reactions to the coronavirus pandemic. Trying to see the other person’s point of view is how we love with empathy. How can we do this? Listening to others, paying attention to what is going on in their lives, genuinely asking how they are doing. That will help us do the next thing…
Love By Praying!
Ephesians 6:18 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
This can include not only our personal prayers, but also expressions of prayer. Prayer Cards; praying with people over the phone; intercession on their behalf.
Just as everyone needs love, everyone needs prayer. Pray for the ones who do not want the gospel. Pray for the ones who have not found Jesus. Pray for Christians to grow in discipleship. Pray for those who are ill, or who have family that are ill.
Abba Father knows how to answer our prayers. We may not understand how He does answer them. In His times and in His Ways. We affirm that He knows how to answer prayer.
Love by Encouraging Others
Hebrews 3:13 You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
During this pandemic, we all need some encouragement. The economy, family problems, personal failure, fear, illness, loss – all leave us thirsty for encouragement.
Proverbs 16:24 Kind words are like honey— sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.
Find a way that is natural to you – a phone call, a card, an email, text.
Love like you want to be love, love with empathy, love by praying, love by encouraging others …
Love When Others Hate
Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.”
We live in a cynical hate-filled world. That is never more evident than in social media. It seems some people think that since they are behind the keyboard they can be mean to other people. Even some Christians. Christians are shining lights because we are not to join in the hate speech. We may disagree on politics, face masks, how we deal with the virus – and we can discuss anything – but our conversation should be brighter and better than the hateful world around us. Of course this holds true for in-person conversations and relationships as well.
Love With Words
Ephesians 4:29 (NIV) Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. (ESV: that it may give grace to those who hear.)
The guiding principle of the words we speak is this: will it encourage the one who hears it?
How many people need to hear “I Love You?” Or “I Care” or even just “I hear you”
Love When Opportunity Arises.
Multiple opportunities to share love and mercy will present themselves. Feeding hungry in Zambia, helping Kevin and wife in Honduras with medical expenses, blessing the girls in the Living Hope orphanage. Compassion International / World Vision / KIVA.
Opportunities that are near… directly helping those you can … supporting the helping organizations in our city that are set up to bless others.
Galatians 6:10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.
What is my Christianity doing for another person? What is my Christianity doing for the people that God has placed in my path? Or in my neighborhood? Or in my family?
Seven ways to love our neighbor: Love like you want to be love, love with empathy, love by praying, love by encouraging others, love when others Hate, love with your words and love when Opportunity arises.