I have made it a priority to study about love in the Word of God. Getting a revelation about how much God loves me and learning to receive His love has been life-changing for me. It's been the key to being able to really enjoy my life because when I received God's love, then I could love others. And I've discovered that the best way-the only way-you can have a happy, powerful life is to get your mind off yourself and do something for someone else. Helping people, being a blessing and adding value to other people's lives is what it means to walk in love and follow the example of Jesus.
Ephesians 5:2 (AMP) says, "Walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God…." The NLT says to "live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us…." Jesus-our perfect and holy Savior-gave His life for us, took all of our sin upon Himself, and shed His blood so we could have a personal relationship with Him and become the righteousness of God. That was His gift to us. Once we experience the gift of salvation, our gift to God is how we live our lives.
Jesus says in John 13:34 (AMP), "I give you a new commandment: that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another." If we will learn how to follow this one commandment, everything else in our lives will fall into place. Because everything we need to be and do to follow Jesus' example is covered when we live a life filled with God's love.
Be a Good Samaritan
In Luke chapter 10, Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan to demonstrate what it means to love God and your neighbor as yourself. In verses 30-37, we read that a man was traveling from Jerusalem down to Jericho when he "fell among robbers, who stripped him of his clothes and belongings and beat him and went their way, [unconcernedly] leaving him half dead" (AMP).
A priest and a Levite both passed by him and neither stopped to help. Verse 33 says, "But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled along, came down to where he was; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity and sympathy [for him]" (AMP). Notice that he "was moved with pity and sympathy" for this man. He had compassion for him and was moved to do something to help him.
He dressed his wounds and took him to an inn where he could get the care he needed. He paid the innkeeper and told him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I [myself] will repay you when I return" (v35, AMP).
There are a few things I want you to notice here. First, the Samaritan was traveling the road and was probably going somewhere he needed to be; he had a plan but he was willing to stop and help this man even if it meant his plan was interrupted. Also, he gave his best effort to make sure the man had good care and then paid for him to get it. He was obviously willing to pay whatever it was going to cost because he told the innkeeper, "Whatever more you spend, I [myself] will repay you when I return." So he was planning to come back and make sure everything the man needed was covered.
This Is Love!
Jesus is showing us in this story what real love looks like. And 1 Corinthians 13 lists the characteristics of God's love: it is patient and kind, never envious, boastful or inflated with pride; it is not rude, does not insist on its own rights or its own way; it is not self-seeking, touchy or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it and rejoices when right and truth prevail; love bears up under anything that comes and is ever ready to believe the best of every person; its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances…love never fails!
Now, if you're thinking, "There's no way I can live up to this list!" I want to tell you, "Yes, you can!" You can love others like this because as a born-again Christian, you have everything you need to be like Jesus. It's not always easy because we have to resist the temptation to be selfish, but 1 John 4:4 says that the Spirit of God in us is greater than our enemy. So in Christ, we have the power we need to walk by faith and live a life of love.
It's important to understand that God is not expecting you to be perfect in your love walk or to do it alone. He knows you can't do it without His help. What He wants is for you to seek Him through prayer and studying the Word, and as you do, lean on Him for the grace to do what He's asking you to do each day. He is love, so you can rest in the truth that He is patient with you, He's always with you, He believes in you and will not give up on you. And with God's love in your life, you can learn how to live a life of love!