Loving Well Part 2

With Valentines Day just around the corner, love is on most peoples mind right now.  Whether married or single, people are born with the need to be loved and to love.  If an infant does not receive love through touching and caring they do not develop properly.  I believe that does not change as we get older.  If we don’t experience unconditional love, we do not develop properly emotionally.  We also cannot love other people well if we do not feel loved ourselves.

Unfortunately we live in a broken world, where there is no perfect love.  As humans we all fall short in this area of life.  We may have our moments, but in the long run all of us struggle to love perfectly.  I cannot love my wife on my own, only with the help of God can I love her the way Christ loved the church.  In 1 John 4:17-21 we hear a clear message about love:

“God is love.  When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us.  This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day-our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s.  There is no room in love for fear.  Well-formed love banishes fear.  Since fear is crippling, a fearful life-fear of death, fear of judgment- is one not yet fully formed in love.  We, though, are going to love-love and be loved.  First we were loved, now we love.  He loved us first.  If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating his brother or sister, thinking nothing of it, he is a liar.  If he won’t love the person he can see, how can he love the God he can’t see?  The command we have from Christ is blunt:  Loving God includes loving people.  You’ve got to love both.”

So God has shown us the way in which to love and has called us to now love other people that way.  When God is living in us, His love shines through us.  He gives us the strength to love someone that is unlovable.  The way in which we love is evidence of our relationship with God.

So what does loving well look like?  It is a daily challenge for us to love well.  We are tested constantly through difficult people and circumstances.  That is why it is so important for us to be growing closer to God each day.  I know for me, when I start to let my relationship with God slip, I start to fail many of the love tests that come my way.  I tend to have a shorter fuse and be less patient with the people around me.

To read about the way of love click here

Loving well takes a mindset and an attitude of humility and meekness.  Most people struggle with the idea of being humble and meek, but listen to what God has to say about those qualities:

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourself.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”  Philippians 2:3-4

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.”  Matthew 5:5

It takes great strength and courage to be a man or women of humility and meekness.  It is not a sign of weakness but of great strength.  To love well a person must be humble and meek.  Meek means to be gentle, patient and submissive.  Those qualities are rare these days, but in order to love well they are needed.  So here are my closing thoughts on Loving Well:

  • We can’t love other people, without God’s love living in us
  • Love begins with humility and meekness
  • Every day we go through love tests, which either increase our capacity to love or decrease our capacity to love, it’s our choice.
  • Fear cannot co-exist with love
  • Love is not an emotion, it is a choice and an attitude.  It is a way of life.

So here is the challenge – Choose to love well, Choose to love God, Choose to love people.

My heart is melting for you babe xx


Creative Commons License photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography(find me on FB

Love Well

I’ve been reading through the Message Bible this year. I have read the entire Bible in this version and am doing it again because I find myself drawn in by this version of the Bible. It is easy to read and I find myself reading large portions in one sitting. Yesterday I started reading the book of Philippians, but only got through one chapter. A portion of Paul’s prayer for the Philippians really jumped out at me and challenged me. Here it is, Chapter 1 verses 9 & 10:

“So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush.”

I can’t get this idea of loving well out of my mind. Lot’s of questions have run through my mind. How well do I love? How do I love well? What does he mean by love appropriately? Why should I use my head to test my feelings? Love is a word that has been used a lot and it’s meaning has been confused in my opinion. For many people the idea of loving well is somewhat confusing and intimidating. Many of the people I talk too and interact with struggle with this idea of loving well. There are so many struggling, broken relationships today that to love well is almost uncommon.

I don’t have time to go very deep on this thought, but I want to share some ideas I have on how to love well. These ideas may connect with you for your marriage relationship, your parenting relationship, or other relationships you currently are struggling in or are wanting to do better. There is a lot more to loving well, and none of us will ever love perfectly, but all of us can love better.

  • To love well, we must admit our inadequacy – What I mean by that is none of us know how to make intimate relationships work. We might know some things that work, but we are inadequate on our own to love well all the time. So say it with me, I don’t know what I am doing!
  • To love well, we must be humble – Pride destroys relationships, humility heals relationships. Humility is the secret of blessing and intimacy. In humility we think about our selves less and those close to us more. In humility we look to serve those around us without expecting anything in return. In humility we realize we need help from God in order to love well.
  • To love well, we must trust – Without trust no relationship can last. Trust is about always looking and believing the best about a person. Trust can only happen if I know who I am and who I am not. Trust leads to deeper intimacy, and also the potential for deeper hurt. Trust means I will open my heart and not close out people. Trust means never looking back and bringing up the things that are behind me. Trust does not mean I allow people to continue to hurt me or take advantage of me.
  • To love well, we must forgive – I know of no relationship that last over time that does not have to give and receive forgiveness. As humans we hurt each other, our natural tendency is to be selfish. When we are quick to forgive, we do not allow bitterness and anger the time to take root. If we are slow to forgive emotions come out of us that hurt and damage us and others. Forgiveness allows us to love well for the long haul.
  • To love well, we must persevere – Loving people is not easy. Patience and persistence are vital to loving well. Love never gives up. Through the most difficult of times we can love well if we have a long-term perspective. Loving the unlovable may seem impossible at times, yet to love well, we must love to the end. As mentioned earlier we can only do this with the power and strength that comes from a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is perfect love and he can give us what we need to love someone for the long haul.
  • To love well, we must grow – When we stop growing we often stop loving well. Whether it is spiritual growth, emotional growth, intellectual growth or even physical health. When we stop learning, growing and changing our love deteriorates and declines. If I find myself struggling to love the people around me as I should, I start to spend more time with God, I read more, I pray more, I exercise more, I schedule more one-on-one appointments, I talk to my life mentors. Just like a tree, to be healthy and strong it must keep growing. It’s roots go deeper to find more nutrients and water. It’s branches grow thicker to support the additional growth. We need to find ways to have our roots go deeper and our branches grow thicker in order to continue to love well.

I could come up with some more, but this is a great start. How well do you love? What would your spouse say? What would God say?

10 Ways to Build Solid Relationships

How do you lead through relationships? John Maxwell has been quoted saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Leadership cannot be separated from relationship. In order to accomplish anything of significance it takes people and healthy relationships in order to bring lasting results. By developing good relational skills a leader can get much more done. In Romans 12:9-21 Paul gives us ten instructions on how to build solid relationships:

  1. Avoid hypocrisy – be sincere and real, walk the talk (v. 9)
  2. Be loyal – treat others like brothers and sisters (v. 10)
  3. Give preference to others – honor the desires of others above your own (v.10)
  4. Be hospitable – look for ways you can serve and meet the needs of others (v. 13)
  5. Return good for evil – Don’t retaliate when others hurt you, hold your tongue (v.14)
  6. Identify with others – Celebrate with others, show compassion to others (v.15)
  7. Be open-minded toward others – Connect with people by being more interested in them than yourself (v. 16)
  8. Treat everyone with respect – This shows you value them as a person (v. 17)
  9. Do everything possible to make peace – do your best to resolve conflict (v.18)
  10. Remove revenge from your life – Let God judge others; you love them (v.19-21)

Relational Intelligence

Wouldn’t it be great if we had signs for people like we have signs for roads? You approach a person and they hold up a sign that says “I just had a big fight with my spouse this morning, proceed with caution”, or “Feeling highly stressed, may explode”.

Maybe at work your boss could have a sign saying “Under Pressure” or a co-worker “Having trouble with my child, Hard to Focus”

We could go on and on describing different signs people could wear. The point is that we don’t get that clear of a message in our relationships. We all have to go through drivers education in order to get a license to drive. We don’t go to relationship training to learn how to relate to people better. A lot of us should get pulled over for not reading relational signs correctly. We often run red lights, don’t merge properly and ignore many signs people are giving us relationally.

Jesus was a master at reading people, noticing people that others ignored. Of course He had the advantage of being God and knowing their thoughts, but we can learn from Jesus’ example. He paid attention to the outward signs from people and could quickly read the motives behind the actions. The problem for many of us is that we are far to engrossed in our own lives that we fail to notice the people around us. We lead busy, preoccupied lives and often miss the bright neon signs someone is flashing in front of us.

This happens a lot in marriage. One spouse is holding up all kinds of signs that are saying we are in trouble, we need help, we are heading in the wrong direction. The other spouse ignores those signs and maybe puts up others sign like things are OK, full speed ahead, we can do this on our own.

God shows us in Genesis 4:6 how to read signs “Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast?” God sees that Cain is upset because of his facial expression. We can also know if someone is angry, frustrated, unsure, scared, disappointed etc from the facial and body expression that people use.

When we tune into each other and notice these little outward expressions, it helps us to connect at a deeper emotional level. Some people are not very good at picking up on these signs and can actually be blind to many of these signs. Often that starts early in life by being shut out relationally by family, school mates etc. They begin to insulate themselves from getting rejected and eventually stop being able to read what another person is feeling. Those who have been abused can also insulate themselves from emotional connections with people.

To regain that takes emotional healing and a lowering of the walls that have been built around the heart. Everyone can learn to read other peoples signs better. Often it is by trial and error, by asking questions and talking about what you are observing. Many times we can sense when something is wrong with people we know well. That sense comes from the non-verbal and verbal communication they are sending us. Simply asking some questions of that person can help to open the lines of clear communication about what is going on.

So my challenge to us all is to pay attention this week. Look for signs like “Road Closed”, “Stop”, “Yield”, “Proceed with caution”, “Slow Down”, “Do Not Enter”.

Life is full of signs and people wear them every day. I love the comedian that talks about “Here’s your sign” that is different, that is us giving someone else a sign instead of reading theirs.

Paying attention, asking questions and knowing when to give someone space and when to pursue them are all critical relational skills. I hope this will also help you as you display your own signs. What are you saying to the people around you? Maybe you need to change out some of your signs to allow people to get closer to you.

May God Bless You With Discomfort

I read this today in Michael Hyatt’s Blog and thought it would be worth sharing. This is a different way of looking at the world around us. I have been challenged lately to love people better. Jesus told us to love others like we love ourselves. I am not sure I can say that I do that every day. So here is a prayer for me and for you:

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to our children and the poor.

Amen

I hope that was as inspiring and challenging to you as it was for me. I want to challenge you to start praying that prayer and asking God to make you uncomfortable. Compassion and love for people is not a feeling, it is an action – Go make a difference!