Have you ever thought about love being an action? Usually we think of love as a feeling, emotion, and affection. 1 Corinthians 13 is known as the “love chapter” in the Bible. An excerpt from the passage says “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.”
Jesus said “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Matthew 22:37-39
It is important that we get the act of love right. There is an easy to remember, four-step action we can use to put love in action in our life toward God and toward others. The four steps are L-O-V-E to Listen, to Observe, to Value, and to Enjoy. If we act out these four things in our thoughts, attitudes, and actions with God and others, we will fulfill the greatest and the second greatest commandments.
Listening is almost a lost art. Our lives are so distracted and multi-tasked, we barely have time to hear ourselves think. We have far less time and attention to listen to what others are saying.
Listening begins with time, continues with attention, and concludes with processing what is being said.
Have you ever looked someone straight in the face when they’re talking and not heard a word they were saying? Have you gestured to their inflection, but were unaware of the actual point the communicator had just voiced?
To love someone well, take the time to listen with attention to detail of what is being said and thoughtfully process the words being communicated.
Loving well through observation can be acted out by looking for body language and preferences. Observe not just the words that are being said, but the attitude with which they are being communicated. Notice how the arms are folded, head is turned, eye contact is avoided, or how the stair is piercing. This will allow you to interpret how the person communicating really feels about the words being said. Additionally, remember what other’s prefer. Observe what makes others happy, remember details about what they like or don’t like, and attempt to see things from their perspective.
Study the person you are attempting to love. Examine the words they are saying, the means they are using to communicate, and the importance of the words to the individual speaking. If it is important to them, it should be important to you . . . if you want to love the other person well.
Rate others more important than yourself. Value the other person, whether it be God or others as more important than yourself. It has been said like this, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
Valuing others begins with placing a higher price on them than you place on yourself. It is taking the lower rung, the lower position in priority. It is being humble which has been defined as not to think less of yourself, but to think of yourself less.
The cost of valuing someone else above yourself is the price that must be paid to love well.
The final part in loving well is enjoyment. The enjoyment of others must be acted out to truly love others. Be thrilled when you spend time with others. We are living in a world of isolation. There are a lot of people who would rather be by themselves and have their own space than to take the time to invite others in and find pleasure in getting to know them.
How many of us, when alone, would answer “I’m good” when invited to spend time one-on-one with someone either by phone or in person? Love is actively displayed when we take pleasure in sharing life’s ups and downs with others.
Psalm 16:11 says of God ‘Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy.” Enjoying God and others begins with sharing the path of life.
In conclusion, LOVE is absolutely an action. It can be summarized as follows: Listen attentively giving time and thought to the communication of God and others as they speak to you. Observe the thoughts and actions of God and others respecting them and their preferences. Value God and others as more important than yourself, catering to their wishes and time schedules. Enjoy the presence of God and others as you walk the path of life together.