By Jacqui Jacoby
As Christians, one of the most important things we can do is love others, so here are two practical ways to love others like Christ loves us:
(Disclaimer: we are not called to stay in unhealthy relationships. This way of showing love is intended for healthy relationships.)
Forgive others often and do so genuinely. We live in a culture that says it’s okay to cut ties with someone who wrongs us, but Jesus says otherwise.
Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, asked Jesus how often he should forgive a brother or sister who sins against him. “Seven times?” Peter asked. Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22). That’s a lot. The point is, we are to be unrelenting in our ability to drop a grudge, just as Jesus unrelentingly pursues us every single day. It’s hard, but the example it sets is unforgettable.
Forgiveness needs to happen when someone wrongs us, whether they say, “I’m sorry,” or not. And forgiveness isn’t just saying, “I forgive you;” it’s denying our flesh, which tempts us to feel angry and seek revenge (Romans 12:19).
Lift up the wrongdoing or mistake to God, give your friend grace and understanding (because they are just as human as you are), and ask God for the ability to let it go.
- Not dwelling on it/replaying it in your head
- Not bringing it up in future arguments
- Not talking to others about it
Overall, it means treating that person as if she was blameless, in the same way that God views us as blameless despite our daily sins.
2) Be present and keep commitments
If you’ve never read Love Does by Bob Goff, I would highly recommend doing so. The main point of the book is that love does. This means that love should not be an empty promise or a word thrown around; love should be evident in our actions toward others and God.
How can we practically “do” love? Be there. Follow through. If you have a friend who is in a bad mood, write her a note and buy her Starbucks. Is your friend in a play or does she play a sport? Go to her show or her game. Cheer her on daily.
Did your friend invite you over for a movie, but you’d rather go hang out with the guy you like? It’s tempting to cancel plans when we have potentially more appealing options, and FOMO (fear of missing out) is real, I know. But following through is one of the most loving things we can do for a fellow believer, and it is the action that shows God’s love to the nonbeliever. (Sidenote: my friends can vouch that I struggle with this. I am by no means perfect!)
These steps may seem small, but they can impact a friend in incredible ways. I speak from experience when I say that loving others well is the key to expanding the Kingdom of Heaven.