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“Come, sinners come! Come, sinners come!
Oh, what a love is this that bids sinner come!”
(from “Come Sinners, Come” by Isaac Wardell)
There are days it feels almost impossible to escape sin. Sometimes it’s when I come face to face with the greed, impatience, and pride in my own heart. Other times, I feel overwhelmed by the violence, hate, and fear pressing in from the world around me. I can only take so much heartlessness, so much brokenness, so many facebook arguments, before I find myself curled into a fetal position and refusing to leave the couch.
“What can men do against such reckless hate?” King Theoden asks Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. To be honest, I probably ask that question every couple of days.
If you’re asking that question today, come with me to the Scriptures, and let us meditate together. The books of the Bible are many and varied, but if there was a single thread running through them all, it might be love. God not only has love - God is love (1 John 4:8). Love is what prompted Christ’s saving efforts on the cross (John 3:16). All the commandments found in the Hebrew laws, or given by Old Testament prophets, hang on the idea of loving God and loving one another. God’s love, according to Isaiah, is greater and stronger than even the devotion of a nursing mother (49:15).
But how can we live out this love in our own lives? What does it look like? What examples can we find in Scripture to inspire us to keep loving, no matter how dark and cold the night may become?
Here are five beautiful ways the Bible shows us how to live with love.
1. Lift up the broken, enlarge the small, and favor the weak
But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”(Matthew 19:14).
This is one of my favorite episodes in Gospels. In a society that, in many ways, treated children as little more than property, Jesus refused to let them be brushed aside. Rather, he spent time with them, blessed them, and make a special point to teach his followers that his Kingdom was made for “such as these.” I can’t think of any higher praise!
SEE ALSO: Kindness is Not Weakness
Throughout his ministry, Jesus also blessed and worked alongside women - another people group relegated to the status of property and lesser citizens in most ancient cultures. He teaches them (John 4, Luke 10:39) heals them (Mark 5:24-34), and even chooses to reveal himself as risen Lord first to a woman, and commissioned her to be the first bearer of the Resurrection Gospel (John 20).
We can emulate the love and care Christ showed to the poor, the marginalized, and the sick. Learning from his example, we can remember to be kind to children and those who are socially disadvantaged. We can remember to show love by prioritizing those who have nobody looking out for them.
2. Have patience with each other
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other (Colossians 3:12-13).
Isn’t it sobering that, even when we are surrounded by fellow believers, “bearing with one another” is still so hard? Patience is not something that comes naturally to most of us. But we can increase patience in our hearts by turning to God’s word, and remembering his supreme patience.
The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
According to Peter, God longs for each of us to have life and right relationship with him. If an eternal and holy God can display such grace toward us in the face of our stubbornness, can we not show a portion of the same grace to one another? Patience in the midst of frustration and trial is one of the most shining examples of biblical love.
3. Be generous
There are two aspects of generosity. First, and the one that comes to mind for many of us when we hear the command “to give,” is the material sense. For, as James exhorts,
If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?
But generosity isn’t just about dollars and cents. If we follow the example of Christ and other biblical heroes, we learn that being generous means living with an other-focused, self-sacrificing spirit. It means living with kindness, encouraging others, and offering our good works to one another.
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2).
4. Don’t withhold forgiveness
When we are hurt, it’s tempting to reserve a secret place in our hearts to nurture bitterness, even long after apologies have been exchanged. And while it may be necessary to change or even break off relationships, true forgiveness sets us free and brings us closer to the Lord.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you (Colossians 3:13).
According to Mark 11:25, forgiving others is an act of emulating God. God forgives our sins freely. Christ offered his friendship to Zaccheus before he even repented for his sin. He promised eternal life to the thief on the cross, who no longer had chance to try and live a righteous life. Forgiveness, we see in Scripture, is the path to wholeness.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed (James 5:16, emphasis mine).
5. Keep your promises
Living a life of truth is, perhaps, one of the most concrete way to show God’s love to those around you. But that requires more than just honesty: it means keeping our word. Psalm 89:4 is a resolution every godly man and woman should strive to keep:
I will not violate my covenant or alter the word that went forth from my lips.
Keeping promises is so important for Christians because we serve a God of truth and love. Our consistency in this matter not only shows our respect for truth, but it serves those around us by building trust in relationships. It takes a true act of love to consider our words and actions so deeply before we choose to speak.
Christians serve a promise-keeping God: one who continued to sustain Israel through slavery in Egypt, exile in Babylon, and occupation by Rome. We worship a Christ who forgives us no matter what, is generous with his blessings, has patience with our shortcomings, and fights for the smallest and weakest among us. By following his example in these ways, perhaps we can teach one another (and ourselves) a little more about living with love.
Written by Debbie Holloway, who writes, creates, searches and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Publication date: September 24, 2015