For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another ... We know that we have passed from death to life because we love one another. Whoever does not love abides in death. All who
hate a brother or sister[c] are murderers, and you know that murderers do not have eternal life abiding in them. We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. (1 John 3:11-16).
Love is one of the most used words and one of the least lived. “For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” Love is a common theme in the Bible, and a commandment. We know we are called to love God, each other, ourselves, and all of God’s creation, but it's hard. We think we know what it means, but I wonder if that's true when it gets down to it.
Ann Landers, an advice columnist in the ‘50s and sister of the writer of Dear Abby, wrote “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” Using this definition, I rarely love myself - because when it comes to me, I tend to be unforgiving, I don't like settling for less than perfection, and I don't like weakness. But if I don't love myself, how can I love the God who created me or others who have the same weaknesses I have?
How can you learn to love yourself? Hint: It may help to try and see yourself as God sees you. How do you show your love of God and others on a day to day, practical level?
Prayer: Lord, help me to love my friends, my family, the people I don’t even know with the same passion you have for your people. Teach me what love really looks like. Don’t let me complicate it. Let me know what it means to truly love like you have loved us. Amen.