Telling to Love or Showing Love

Crown of Thorms
Jesus said to him, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” - Matt 22:37-39 (NKJV)

As our church began our “40 Days to Resurrection Sunday” this year with a theme of “Practicing the Presence of God” we embarked on a 7-7-7 schedule. At 7 am and 7 pm 7 days a week someone would be meeting in the prayer room for a time of prayer and/or worship. All were welcome to come one day, every day or any time they want and as they were lead by the Lord.

My family has been blessed by attending as often as we can at 7 am.

One of my prayers with my family for years has been to “love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind…and to love our neighbor as ourself.”

We understand this to be a command from Jesus Christ…and rightly so, Jesus clearly says (v 38) “This is the first and great commandment.”

So as I was praying one day with my family, I prayed, “Lord, please help us to love one another with our words, thoughts and actions. Lord let us hold every thought and word captive to you.” A pretty good prayer…right?

When I step back and think about how my children are hearing this from me, I flash back to my actions and words during the past month, week, day or the past hour… “have I been TELLING them to love God and each other? OR, have I been SHOWING them how to love God and each other?”

Like many Christian parents, I believe I have been doing both. But…how do my kids see it?

It is a delicate balance. God’s desire for us (and for my children) is to love Him and to love others from a deep place within our hearts with true unconditional love…not out of obligation nor condemnation from a “command”.

What does this look like in our daily lives?

I don’t know about you, but for me, loving others as Christ loves me is a challenge. Christ loves me unconditionally. As a broken human being, I have a tendency to love others based on what I “like” or don’t like about them...

...I like the way my son obeys…I don’t like the way he disobeys.

...I like the way my daughter talks about the struggles in her life…I don’t like the way she is overwhelmed by “the little things”.

...I like the way my wife keeps the house…I don’t like her being tired after a long hard day.

...I like to talk to the guys at The Shepherd’s House who are clean, teeth brushed and sober…I don’t like to talk to the people right off the street who are dirty, hung over and a bit scary. Is this how Jesus is TELLING us to love?

Or is the question really, how did Jesus SHOW us how to love?

Everyone expresses and receives love in different ways. My love for the work of Grace Network International is expressed by the work I do (see FAQ#2: What Does Brian Do?).

But is this enough? Do others feel UNCONDITIONALLY loved because of my work? Or is there more to the unconditional love of Jesus that I need to consider.

Father and Son

For my family, it is much more than just the work I do or what I tell them. It is me living authentically before them and with them. It is loving them even when they disobey, when they are overwhelmed, or when they are tired.

Unconditional love is only possible by the Grace and Truth of Jesus Christ which is at the heart of what we do at Grace Network International (See FAQ #1: The Difference Between The Shepherd’s House and Grace Network International)

May God bless you as we head toward the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brian

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