10 Keys for Practically Walking in Love

God has shown us His love; He has demonstrated it and He has clearly laid out His expectations of us. (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Colossians 3:12-17)  So how do we practically walk in love?  I believe this is a continual learning process…

Keys for practically walking in love and compassion.

 

God has shown us His love; He has demonstrated it and He has clearly laid out His expectations of us. (I Corinthians 13:4-8, Colossians 3:12-17)  So how do we practically walk in love?  I believe this is a continual learning process and we are to continually grow in love and compassion.

1.  Value.

  • We must recognize that EVERYONE has value.  They may not look or sound like us, but they still have value.
  • The more you value someone, the more precious they become to you.

2. Respect.

  • Because we value people, we will respect them.
  • We need to earn people’s respect, but I will respect the other person regardless.

3.  Freedom.

  • We must never attempt to control people with the threat of withholding our love.
  • Give them the freedom to make their own choices. Those choices may have consequences, but they should be clearly differentiated from our love
  • Allow the people in our lives to be free and be who God created them to be.
  • Manipulation tries to control and restrict other people’s freedom.
  • Manipulation is fear based.

4. Expectations.

  • What are my expectations?
  • Am I expecting something that is not realistic or theirs to carry?
  • Realize that NO ONE is perfect, not even you!

5. Communication.

  • Have I clearly communicated my expectations?
  • Have I listened without jumping to conclusions?
  • Have I listened without preconceived ideas marring my judgment?
  • Have I re-stated back to them what they are trying to communicate? (Listening exercise)

6. Judgment

  • Is my first mode judgment and correction or is it compassion and coming alongside?  An answer to this question is action.  If I am continually irritated by something but I choose not to come alongside something is wrong.  My discomfort should lead me to a love action, a coming alongside, compassion, a desire to see them succeed.  In some cases, this means JUST prayer.  If we have not developed a rapport with people, we do not have access to speak into their lives.  But whether it is getting involved with people or just prayer, it requires US to do something.  Compassion moves us from judgment to action.  It takes us out of passive to being active.  Judgment is passive – you don’t do anything.  Compassion cannot live in passivity.
  • Judgment is not our job. Stay out of judgment.
  • Judgment and discernment are two different things.

7. Commitment.

  • Recognize that relationships take hard work. Patience, long suffering, working together is required.
  • Be committed in your relationships.
  • Don’t run at the first sign of conflict.
  • Be committed to doing your part to resolve the conflict.
  • Work at being in a right relationship with each other again.
  • Commitment is a mindset that I have and portray.
  • Their response doesn’t determine my commitment.

8.  Forgiveness.

  • Be quick to forgive.
  • Ask yourself, ‘if that was me, how would I want to be treated?’
  • Extend the same grace that you have received to others.

9. Find the good.

  • Every person has value; therefor, you will find something good in them.
  • Celebrate the good.

10.  Live in joy.

  • Live in joy.  It is not your job to change people, so relax and enjoy life!

God Models Love

I love how God models this for us and shows us HOW to love.  Through the whole Bible we see a demonstration of God’s love in action.  Jesus showed us how to love, He lived it, He demonstrated it, He was passionate about it, it required something from Him.

He Models His Expectation of Us.

I love how God models this for us and shows us HOW to love.  Through the whole Bible we see a demonstration of God’s love in action.  Jesus showed us how to love, He lived it, He demonstrated it, He was passionate about it, it required something from Him.

He models this for us, but He also instructs us in love.  We see in the life of Jesus, how He moved with compassion.  When He encountered people, when people came to Him, He never turned them away; He always met their need.  He demonstrated His love for them.  He redefined it, explained it, and demonstrated it.

Jesus changed the face of compassion, tradition, and teaching. History had given the nation of Israel a concept of compassion that gave them liberties which Jesus was combating face on.

In Matthew 14:14, Jesus was moved with compassion.  He saw the great multitude and His compassion was moved towards them.  He saw their great need, their deficit and it caused Him to move, it required something from Him.  He healed their sick.

When we read the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus was teaching them how to be moved with compassion.  He was showing what compassion looked like in action.

Over and over we see how Jesus loved, how He was moved with compassion.  His love required action.   Compassion rose up from inside of Him, it came from His innermost being and it propelled Him in action.  Read the Gospels with the mindset of discovering how Jesus loved, how He was moved with compassion, how He interacted with people.

God is love.  It is part of who He is, it is one of His attributes.  He cannot function outside of His love. He demonstrated His love for mankind by sending His Son to die for us. His redemptive plan was formed before the foundations of the world.  He has modelled this for us. His expectation of us is that we would do the same.  He strongly states it that we are morally obligated to lay down our lives for our brothers.  He has created a picture of how we should live and how we relate to each other.  His desire is for us to live sacrificially for each other, that we would demonstrate love the way He did, by laying down our lives, our rights for each other.  He set very big boots to fill!

Love comes from the very core of our being; it resides in the seat of our affections.  The Bible uses the word bowels, which shows us that it is place deep inside us that rules us, it is the seat of affections.  It means inward affection, tender mercy.

This compassion is active; there is movement to it.  It cannot sit idly by while others are hurting or in need.  It is motivated by mercy.   It requires action from us.

Compassion comes from our bowels, from the place of tender affections, the place where mercy resides.   God uses the word bowels, which shows us that it is place deep inside us that rules us, it is the seat of affections.  Part of its root is mercy, which is kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them.

Love requires something from us.  We cannot say that we love and have no action.  There must be action.

Let’s look at how God demonstrated His love for us and see how He wants us to love each other.

I John 3:17-18 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?  My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

God’s demonstration of His love for us by sending His Son to lay His life down for us.

What should we be willing to do for our brothers?  According to I John 3, His expectation of us is that we would lay down our lives for our brothers.

Our willingness to give to our brother reveals our heart, it reveals the love of God in us.

What are we to love in?  We are to love in deed and truth.  God’s expectation is that our love has action behind it, it is not just words.  He requires action from us!

We have seen how He loves us, we have discovered His definition of love, we have seen how He wants us to demonstrate His love, but how do we cultivate love and compassion?  How do we have our capacity to love enlarged?

Cultivating love and compassion as part of our character.

We have studied what love is, we have looked at how God loves us, and we have seen how Jesus demonstrated and modeled love for us.   All of these things help us to better understand how we should love others.

1 Peter 3:8 Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

When we read the word compassion in this verse, it comes from the word pitiful, which means well compassioned, sympathetic, tender hearted.  Interestingly it means to have strong bowels, a strong place of affections, a strong place where we are ruled from.

Compassion affects us deeply, it comes from the seat that rules us, and it is full of mercy and affection.

When we are functioning from a position of love, mercy motivates us and rules us.  We are willing to extend mercy even when the recipient doesn’t deserve it.

There is a dimension in compassion that joins us with their suffering or their pain.  We feel their pain, and we hurt for them.  This joint suffering compels us into action, it moves us from a place of complacency to where we want to help them succeed or overcome.

  • Compassion is connected to relationship.
  • Compassion releases the supernatural.
  • Compassion cannot live in passivity.
  • Compassion requires action.

Compassion requires action from us!

Colossians 3:12-17  gives us specific instructions of what we are to do and what we are to put on, it says PUT ON, there is an action required here.  He is instructing us to do something, He wants us  equipped.  We are to put on:

  • Bowels of mercies – this is compassion, pity, mercy.
  • Kindness – this is goodness, integrity, excellence in character.
  • Humbleness of mind – having a humble opinion of one’s self.
  • Meekness – gentleness, mildness.
  • Long-suffering – patience, endurance, steadfastness, perseverance.
  • Charity – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.

We are instructed to:

  • Forbear one another – to hold up, bear, sustain.
  • Forgive each other – graciously to restore one to another.
  • Let the peace of God rule our hearts.
  • Be thankful – well favoured, mindful of favours, grateful. 

If we look back at verse 14,  we are instructed to above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.   Above everything else, we are to put on love.  Love is the bond, it is a joint tie that binds everything together.  Love is the ligament that brings it all together and causes everything to work well with completeness.

His expectation of us is to purposely put on the characteristics of love, this is a will decision, this requires us to do it intentionally.   Love is what makes everything we do work well.  If we think back on I Corinthians 13, we can be really adept in spiritual gifts, but if we don’t have love, it doesn’t work, it is for nothing.  I Corinthians 13 describes to us the uselessness of our works and words if they are not cloaked and covered in love and compassion.

If we could just grasp how effective we would be if we would continually walk in His love.  Everything that we do, everyone that we encounter, every conversation, if we would be moved by His compassion and demonstrate His love we would see amazing, supernatural things happen.  It is His love flowing through us that makes it all work, it is what binds it all together.  

People are desperate for a demonstration of love and Jesus wants to use you!  

Take a couple of minutes and ask God to enlarge your heart and enlarge your capacity to love.  Ask Him to change your head knowledge of love to a heart experience.  Ask Him to give you a different way of looking at people, a new lens, to see people how He sees them.  Now take a couple of minutes to sit quietly and receive what He has for you.

Tomorrow we will discover  10 Keys for practically walking in love and compassion.   

Oh How He loves Us!

God has opened up and revealed His love to me in such a large measure these past few months.  He has birthed an even greater love for others, and my heart has been enlarged for the care of others.  My cry has been to accurately reveal and display His heart.  Having a heart of compassion for others like the Father has for us.

We have all heard of I Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter, but today I want to see HOW God loves us,  what His definition of love is, how Jesus demonstrated love, and His expectation of how we should love each other.  I want us to have our capacity to love enlarged supernaturally!

God has opened up and revealed His love to me in such a large measure these past few months.  He has birthed an even greater love for others, and my heart has been enlarged for the care of others.  My cry has been to accurately reveal and display His heart.  Having a heart of compassion for others like the Father has for us.

My heart for you is that the Father would reveal His great love for YOU and that you would have your heart enlarged and transformed by His love and by the very virtue of His pouring of His love on you, you would in turn pour His love on others.

That being stated maybe you recognize yourself in the following paragraphs.  I think we can all see ourselves somewhere in there.  Let me ask you some questions, not to bring condemnation, but in an effort to be real.   By asking ourselves questions, we assess where we are at and we discover our need.

  • Have you been frustrated by the actions, attitudes or condition of someone?
  • How do we function from a position of love without getting frustrated with them and ourselves?
  • What do we require of others?  What do I require of myself?  Is it the same?
  • What does it mean to have compassion?
  • What does it mean to love?
  • What does love look like?

I was listening to some teaching on healing recently and the speaker used an illustration that twigged with me and caused me to examine how I function.

This gentlemen moves in healing, it is his assignment and he has seen thousands healed.  He liked to watch a particular TV show  – he liked the unorthodox character who thought outside the box.  But one day the Lord told him to stop watching that TV show.  He did not understand why.  He asked the Lord why, and the Lord told him that it would begin to effect his healing assignment.  He soon found this to be true, because instead of looking at people with a heart of compassion, he looked at their sickness and illness with a more analytical and critical eye.  He would think, that maybe they needed to change what they were eating or maybe that they needed more exercise.  The knowledge that he had gained from this show caused him to loose his compassion.  He had to refocus and bring that area of his thoughts back into subjection.  He had to be, move and live in the position of compassion.

This began to germinate inside me; what things, thoughts and ideas have robbed me of my compassion?  What things have moved me from my position of compassion?  It’s like a compass that is slightly off, you won’t be effective, you will be frustrated, irritated, you won’t hit the target, you will be doing all the work but the joy won’t be there.  We must re-calculate our route!  Get our compass reading correctly.

We live with people, work with people, play with people, we rub elbows with them, we fight with them, argue with them, disagree with them, we are irritated with them, frustrated by them…………………….we could come to believe that THEY are the problem!  But we are going to have to continue to live with them, work with them……..so how do I not allow them to frustrate me?  There are many things that we can do, but I think the first and foremost is compassion.  Compassion and love will transform and change OUR thoughts and feelings!

I think for us to fully understand HOW to love each other, we must see HOW the Father has loved us.

For many, this is head knowledge, we know that He loves us because the Bible tells us so, but it hasn’t become heart knowledge where we KNOW He loves us.  I want to spend some time looking at His love for us, and then how He models His expectations for us in how we should love others.

What is Love?

When you think of the word love, what comes to mind?  How would you define love?  We all have pictures and ideas of what love looks like, but I think the best description of love comes from the Bible.  Paul clearly describes what love looks like.  He paints a beautiful picture for to help us understand.

Let’s break I Corinthians 13:4-8 down.

  1. Love suffers long.  It does not loose heart, it patiently bears the offences and injuries of others.  Love bravely endures misfortunes and troubles.  Love is patient.
  2. Love is kind.  Love is mild and pleasant in character, it is not harsh, sharp or bitter.
  3. Love does not envy.  It doesn’t boil with envy, hatred or anger.
  4. Love does not boastful.  It is not a braggart.  It will promote others and loves to see others succeed.  It doesn’t need credit for what it has done.
  5. Love is not puffed up.  It is not proud and doesn’t inflate itself.  Love is humble.
  6. Love does not act unbecomingly.  It is not ill mannered, it is not rude.
  7. Love does not seek its seek its own.  Love doesn’t insist on its own way.  It is willing to lay down its own rights for the benefit of others.  It looks for ways to benefit other people, it is more concerned about the state of the other person.
  8. Love is not easily provoked.  Love does not get easily irritated, it is not easily exasperated.
  9. Love thinks no evil.  It is not destructive or injurious in its thinking.  It does not think worthless thoughts.
  10. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness.  Love acts against injustice.  It doesn’t rejoice at the failings or fallings of another, but love causes us to be stirred to help them succeed.
  11. Love rejoices in truth. Love stands in opposition to unrighteousness and what is wrong.  Truth is celebrated and held up as the standard.  Love will not lie.
  12. Love bares all things. Love covers with silence.  It does not expose people’s faults.
  13. Love believes all things.  Love has faith to believe and to trust.
  14. Love hopes all things.  Love expects, it has an expectation.
  15. Love endures all things.  Love remains and doesn’t pull back.  It preserves under misfortunes and trials, holding fast to our faith in Christ.
  16. Love never fails.  It is not powerless, there is power in love.  It moves things, changes things.  When love is enacted it always brings a result.

We have been given a great description of what love looks like.  But God doesn’t want this to be just in our heads, He wants it in our hearts.  When it remains in our heads and does not flow from our hearts, it becomes something that we know, but we do not function in.  We say, ‘yeah, yeah, yeah……’ but there is very little do, do, do……

O How He Loves Us!

For us to fully understand love, we must look at God and how He loves.  When we read First John, it says that God IS love.  Love is one of God’s attributes; it is part of WHO He is.  He cannot function outside of His love; He cannot do anything that is contrary to His nature.

I John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew him not. 

His love is extravagant!  His love for us is of the highest quality.  I love how Wuest puts it, exotic love – love that is foreign to the human heart.   We don’t easily understand it.  His love is permanent; it does not change!  Oh, how I wish you would grasp and understand this!   He LOVES YOU!  It is not dependent upon what you do or don’t do!  He LOVES YOU!   We are not worthy of it, we have done nothing to deserve it, and yet He loves us!  Settle in your heart – HE LOVES ME!

If this is something that you struggle with, or maybe as you were reading the above statement, you thought, ‘…..but….’.  I want you to stop right here and ask Him to show you His love.

Ephesians 2:4-5 gives us another picture of how He loves us.

Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us. Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

I love how the Amplified Bible states it, ‘because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us.’  His love motivated Him, it drove Him to give His life for us, it is what propelled Him to the cross.  His love required an action from Him; He could not sit passively by and do nothing.  It drove Him and propelled Him to the cross.  It is important to note that He did ALL of this while we were sinners!

God loves YOU!  He wants you to EXPERIENCE His love, He doesn’t want His love to just be head knowledge.  He wants you to feel and experience it everyday.  He wants you to live in His love.

Take a few moments today, and ask the Father to demonstrate His love towards you.  Ask Him to show you HOW much He loves you.   Then sit for a few minutes and receive His love.

A Lesson From The Repenting Bench.

I remember when I was growing up, my dad would give us an instruction, and we would not understand the importance of that instruction until everything went awry. 

Have you ever felt dissatisfied and unhappy? Have you ever felt powerless? Are you ready for change and moving forward?  Are you unhappy with the quality of your life and relationships?  This is actually a good place to be, because you are now motivated to do what is necessary to change and you have positioned yourself to be teachable.

I remember when I was growing up, my dad would give us an instruction, and we would not understand the importance of that instruction until everything went awry.  Then my dad would come alongside, love us and instruct us some more.  What changed?  My dad’s instructions were still the same, his love was the same…. What had changed……ME!  I was finally in a position to hear what he had to say, I was finally in a teachable mode, and I was ready for change.


God uses events, crisis and people in our lives to bring us to points of dissatisfaction; He is waiting for us to come into a teachable mode where change can occur.

So how do we move forward?  How do we change?  How do we go from the known to the unknown? How do we break old patterns and modes of dealing with conflict and stress? I believe that it must start with ME.

As an adult I have appreciated my dad’s parenting, he raised me to be responsible for myself.  He loved on me, comforted me, defended me, but he always made me responsible for my part.  What did I do?  What could I have done differently?  These are hard lessons, but it did not allow a victim mentality to be created in me.  I did not understand that when I was 15, but I sure appreciate it now as an adult!  He gave us the skills to navigate through life, preventing life from navigating us.  He taught us the value of self-analysis and that blame shifting can’t be tolerated if we wanted to move forward.

My children love to tell the story of the ‘repenting bench’!  They launch into tales of this infamous bench with gusto and laughter, each one adding their own viewpoint and story line.  This infamous bench was actually the piano bench in our home.  When the children were fighting with each other, we would make them sit together on the bench and work it out and apologize to each other.   From the other room, we would hear them bicker and argue some more about who did what and who said sorry first last time!  We would let this go on for a bit to see if they could work it out, and then we would step in if they couldn’t.

Now the tendency of our children was to tell on their sibling the things their sibling had done to them.  It usually involved them both talking at once and over each other!  David and I would stop them and say, ‘I only want to hear what you did to your sibling’.  This was a hard task, because invariably they wanted to justify what they did by telling us what their sibling had done to them.

Now the beauty of this bench was, if your sibling wasn’t exactly honest in their version of the truth, the other child quickly made it know.  Eventually we got down to the bottom of the issue, and who did what to whom, apologies were made, hurt feelings mended and relationships restored.  They tell these stories today with laughter and who said what, and who did what first, but they learned a valuable lesson – be responsible for your own attitudes, words and actions.

 So where am I going with these stories?  Well, I hope that it illustrates a couple of points.  One:  for change to occur, I must be in a teachable mode, and I must be ready to listen and make changes.  Two:  I must be brave and look at ME – my own attitudes, actions and words.

Take a fresh look, with objective eyes, to see what needs to change.  The ability to look at ME objectively (without excuses) is a challenge but it is necessary if I ever want to live a different life.

1 +1 will always equal 2.  If I am not happy with my outcome – I must change my part of the equation.  God always remains the same, He is constant, it’s our part of the equation that needs changing up.

Often when we are dissatisfied with our lives we look outward to other people, circumstances and events.  The greatest challenge is to look inward….what do I need to change?  What am I responsible for? What in my life does not line up with God’s Word and Kingdom principles?  These are tough questions, but if we want a different outcome to our equation, we must look at ourselves not others.

We have a saying in our house, ‘Learn the lesson the first time, so you can move on and you don’t have to visit it again!’  This is easier said than done!  Sometimes we get it right the first time, and other times we go around the mountain several times!  But if we can be teachable and take a few moments to be objective about ourselves, the payoff is huge!

Eliminating the Road Block

Moving passed an offence or hurt is a difficult process sometimes and depending upon how close that person is to us often determines how deep the hurt goes. 

Do you feel blocked?  We have all struggled with being hurt and with offences.  It is part of life.  Jesus said that offences would come.  But what we do with the hurt and the offence determines our quality of life.

Moving passed an offence or hurt is a difficult process sometimes and depending upon how close that person is to us often determines how deep the hurt goes.  We have all heard that we need to forgive, we need to let go;  we have all heard that Jesus said forgive seventy  times seven, but how do we walk that out when we have been deeply hurt?

Often times while we are processing or nursing our hurt, we don’t realize what it is actually doing to us inside.  We think that we are protecting ourselves, but in reality we are actually inflicting more pain and damage upon ourselves.  We get stuck in a moment of time and our roadway becomes blocked.  We cannot not move forward with our life.

When forgiveness is hard to give, how can I  move along the path of forgiveness?  How can I stop being ROAD BLOCKED?  Exercising the skills below will eliminate the road block and enable you to move forward with the abundant life God has for you!

Objectivity
One of the hardest things to do is gain objectivity.  This is really hard when we feel like we have been unjustly treated, or that we have not been heard, or we have been misrepresented.  But if we can step back from the situation and look at it objectively, from another’s point of view we will gain understanding and empathy that will help us deal with the offense.

Ask yourself, ‘Why would they act like this?  Why would they say this?  What are they going through now that is making them respond this way?  What deficit are they functioning from?   What’s motivating their behavior? How would I act or feel if I was in their position?’

By asking ourselves these questions and learning to be objective, we position ourselves to see that person in a different light.   We will begin to have empathy and understanding for them and what they are possibly going through.  When you have gained a proper perspective, it allows you to deal with the hurt and the offense quickly.  It is easier to forgive and let go when you are coming from the position of understanding and empathy.

Looking in the Mirror
Seeing ourselves as others sees us, is a more difficult task.  It is easier to focus on the other person’s faults and shortcomings than it is to accept that possibly part of the problem lies with me.  But if we are going to process and let go of hurt, we must also take a look at ourselves objectively.  This is a necessary but painful step.  Be quick to admit when you are wrong or have wrong attitudes.

Involve the Holy Spirit
Involving the Holy Spirit is always helpful, because He is patient and kind towards us.  He will gently expose or show you the areas where you need to change.  He will often use people and conflict to bring us to a place where we are ready to receive and hear His voice.  Our growth and maturity is important to Him and He will allow us to go through things to bring about those changes.  But how we respond to the conflict will directly impact our growth and maturity.  If we don’t allow it to bring growth and maturity, He will allow us to go through more difficulties to help us grow.  Our response dictates how many times around the mountain we must go.  Learn to listen and receive from the Holy Spirit and then be quick to obey.

Controlling our Emotions
You may say, I have done all of those things, but I still feel……..
You are right!  You may still feel…….

Now is the time to exercise some spiritual backbone and maturity.  Here comes where we live by principle and not our feelings.  This is where we say, ‘My feelings are subject to the Word of God and I will live by them and not my feelings.’

Satan wants us to hold on to those hurt feelings, nurse them along, feel sorry for our self, because he knows if he can get us focusing on that we will no longer be focusing on our God-given assignments.

This is where we get to employ the Fruit of the Spirit and love the unlovely, dispense joy to the grouchy, administer peace to the restless, demonstrate longsuffering to those who try our patience.  These are all acts of our will.  We must choose to do them.  We must deliberately act!  This is where WE control our emotions and feelings.

Conflicts with people will never go away, so the quicker we learn the necessary skills to navigate through these times the happier we will be.  Instead of allowing these negative experiences to throw us into tailspins that last for weeks, months or sometimes even years.  We can bounce back from them quickly.  Our lives can be filled with love, joy and peace regularly.  We can stay focused on our God-given assignments.

Don’t loose heart!  Determine today to move forward into the life that God has waiting for you!  Move past the ROAD BLOCK!