Here is what I've learned about love by looking at Jesus and His life:
Jesus loved more and better by taking regular breaks to renew and spend time with His Father. I need the same renewal and soul care.
In love, Jesus knew when to say no, when to act, when to be honest and direct, and when to lavish grace. It was through complete intimacy with His Father that He was able to discern which response was needed in each situation He encountered. I need to pursue the same intimacy so I can keep boundaries and know just how to respond to the people I meet and love.
Jesus always looked at others first and by looking, He loved. When I don't look, I miss the opportunity to love.
Studying Jesus' life gives me insight into who He is and gives me insight into myself and both are needed on this journey to loving better. Learning to love is a journey. I need to give myself grace when I fail and I need to commit to knowing Jesus more so I can love more.
Out of deep love, Jesus got angry and He got sad and He knew when to use each emotion. His anger was most often at injustice; at the vulnerable being taken advantage of or the powerful unjustly using their power over and against others. And His anger was productive. He was sad when people rejected His offers of healing, grace, love, and salvation. His sadness was not for Himself but for them. I, too, need to learn when to be angry and when to be sad and what to do with those emotions. I need to put aside self so I can correctly place anger and sadness.
Jesus was completely humble and loved from a place of humility. Humility is a prerequisite in my life before I can love well. Pride and love cannot co-exist. And most difficult to accept, humility is built through humiliation. I need to be willing to endure humiliation to learn humility to learn to love well.
When Jesus loved, He took someone else's pain or shame upon Himself and in exchange the other person received a part of Jesus' honor and status. The exchange is part of loving and I need to be willing to do the same.
Jesus loved despite the outcome. He loved when He knew He wouldn't be thanked, when He knew what others were saying behind His back, and when He knew they would betray and reject Him. My love needs to be just as all-encompassing regardless of the outcome.
And even as I write this I know that I fail at love. I try but so many times I fall short. Tests to my ability to love come every day, sometimes rapid-fire. Some are easier to handle, and I feel like I take a step forward in my journey to love like Jesus. Others are more difficult. Like when my children are hurt or attacked. A recent comment against their character hurt and in all honesty, I didn't want to respond lovingly. I was angry. But after a good run and God-talk (and a God-ordained play-list), I was able to look at my own sin issues, take them to God for healing and forgiveness, to put the anger where it needed to go, and direct the sadness where it needed to go - and to respond in love. I'm still working on it. Still trying to love like Jesus loved. It's hard. But I'm trying.
Now we find ourselves back with the difficult question: What is the most loving thing to do for one who is so broken? We pray for clarity and wisdom. We pray for love.
This is my prayer and heart-felt desire for myself, my family, and all those who call themselves Christ-followers: