Love is a funny word because we use it so interchangeably—we use love to describe nearly everything from tacos to significant others to God. I think that our culture uses it so often, that the word has been watered down and even polluted. So, when Scripture commands us to love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40; Mark 12:30-31), what does that actually mean and look like?
I think that the word love is two part: noun and verb, or action.
I think that we have love, the noun, down pat. This love is a feeling or emotion. The problem is that often feelings change, therefore your emotions are deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Please don’t hear me say emotions are bad—they’re good. However, when we use our emotions to gauge reality, we start running into problems.
On the other hand, love, the action, if we’re being honest with ourselves, is a lot harder to do and sometimes lacking. It a choice that demands action. When we love, it’s easy to say it and (sometimes) feel it. The hard part is actually doing it, showing love to God and the world around us.
[I want to stop here and put in an author’s note: this post is not to shame or condemn you in anyway. That is not my heart, nor the Father’s. If you feel any sort of shame in your heart right now, or later, my prayer is that the Holy Spirit would speak truth over you about your identity as a child of the King. If you would like a resource for Scriptural identity, look up: Who I am in Christ Neil Anderson PDF. But if any way you feel convicted, be empowered to make a difference in the name of Jesus. Go love the world!]
Now, back to love, the action. I feel super passionate about this, maybe because I’m an acts of service person, God, or just a little mix of both. I would argue both, because Scripture is filled with concrete examples of how to love. If we look at the life of Jesus, love, the action, is undeniable: washing the disciples’ feet (they had sandals and didn’t have pedicures then y’all—they were crusty), feeding thousands, miracles—lots of them, healing the sick and dead, and the biggest one—He was crucified for our sins, so we could be restored back to the Father. Jesus died so we could experience pure love from the Father heart of God.
The key is you have to love God and be loved by Him first, so that you can love others. God is love (1 John 4:8). So, if we have a skewed view of who God is, we will not be able to love others. When we love people, we share with them the heart of God, just like Jesus did for us. Love is not tolerance or passivity. Love invites people into a deeper understanding of who God is and calls them higher into their identities as children of the King. I said love one too many times, so if you need to read back through that paragraph, my b & fear not, because here’s some math to help:
God = Love
Therefore, by some property of equality (math skills)
No God = No Love
Receiving God’s love + Loving God = Ability to love others
As believers, we are designed to have a relational and experiential love with God and from there spread it to the world:
“Then Jesus came close to them and said, “All the authority of the universe has been given to me. Now go in my authority and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you. And never forget that I am with you every day, even to the completion of this age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 TPT
It’s really easy to love people who look, act, and talk like us. Maybe not really easy, but easier than loving people who are the polar opposite of you. One of the quotes I keep on my computer home screen is: “How we walk with the broken, speaks louder than how we sit with the great.” When I think about Jesus, He knew good and well how to walk with the broken. The Pharisees even accused Him of being a sinner Himself by how much He hung around the “wrong crowd” (Luke 7:34). I say “wrong crowd” in quotes because it was the exact crowd He came to love and minister to. They were actually the right crowd.
Jesus is the mirror image of the Father (Colossians 1:15). He is about the Father’s business. All over the place, Scripture associates God with justice and one who loves and fights for the oppressed and hurting. Here are just a few:
“He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the Lord’s unfailing love.”
Psalm 33:5 HCSB
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation
of Your throne [Lord];
faithful love and truth go before You.”
Psalm 89:14 HCSB
“I know that the Lord upholds
the just cause of the poor,
justice for the needy.”
Psalm 140:12 HCSB
“For You [Lord] have been a stronghold for the poor,
a stronghold for the needy person in his distress,
a refuge from the rain, a shade from the heat.”
Isaiah 25:4 HCSB
“He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner, giving him food and clothing.”
Deuteronomy 10:18 HCSB
My prompt to you is what does your crowd look like? Is the world reflected in your crowd? Or is it just people who look, act, and think like you? My challenge for you is to get out and love people in the world, and not just the people who reflect you. Who are the oppressed, poor, needy, fatherless, and widows in your sphere? Go love them! Put your words into action. If you can’t think of someone who is oppressed, it’s anyone who is starving to know Jesus, but filling the emptiness with drugs and alcohol. It’s that girl who sits by herself in Bolton every day waiting to be noticed. It’s people judged just because of the color of their skin, religion, or political views. It’s people rotting away in poverty because of intergenerational trauma and systemic injustice. Love these people. Walk with them. Know the depths of their stories and pain. Share the gospel. Pray for their hope and joy to be restored through an encounter with Jesus that sparks a relationship.
You are the light of the world—that is part of your identity. You were created to make an impact wherever you are. Don’t hide your light under a bushel. If you’re under a bushel, flip that container over, girl (or dude)! You were made to shine the light of God into the world. Don’t settle for anything less than what you were made for. It would be an injustice to humanity if you did not live out of the full identity Christ died for you to have.
I feel fiery behind this keyboard, what about you? I’ll leave you with these verses:
“True spirituality that is pure in the eyes of our Father God is to make a difference in the lives of the orphans, and widows in their troubles, and to refuse to be corrupted by the world’s values.” -James 1:27 TPT
“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” -Romans 12:2 TPT
My prayer for you is that the Holy Spirit would fill you with a deep empathy for the injustice, pain, and suffering around you and give you wisdom on ways to act in Biblical love. Shine His light. Love the world.
Author | Brooke DeLoach