If you say you are a person who loves people, what should we see in you? How does the Bible define a life of love?
“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.” Ephesians 5:2 [New Living Translation]
Faith cannot function without love - "For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love." Galatians 5:6 [New Living Translation]
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 [New Living Translation]
Patience and kindness – how well do you consciously control your temper in various situations? Do you lose patience with other people e.g. when driving? Do you “suffer fools” with patience and respond with kindness, or do you “respond in kind”?
"Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back." Proverbs 29:11 [New Living Translation] “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm.” Psalm 37:8 [New Living Translation] The apostle Paul instructed Titus to: "Teach the older men to exercise self-control, to be worthy of respect, and to live wisely. They must have sound faith and be filled with love and patience." Titus 2:2 [New Living Translation]
No jealousy; being boastful, proud or rude – in short, don’t be self-centred. “Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others too.” Philippians 2:3-4 [New Living Translation]
Don’t be irritable and keep no record of being wronged – “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But, if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14 [New Living Translation] “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” Ephesians 5:32 [New Living Translation]
Love the truth, not injustice – Living in love means loving and caring for others just as you love and care for yourself.
“Do to others as you would like them to do to you.” Luke 6:31 [New Living Translation] “You must never twist justice or show partiality.” Deuteronomy 16:19 [New Living Translation]
Endure in love through every circumstance – “Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Colossians 3:12 [New Living Translation] “For examples of patience in suffering, dear brothers and sisters, look at the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. We give great honor to those who endure under suffering. For instance, you know about Job, a man of great endurance. You can see how the Lord was kind to him at the end, for the Lord is full of tenderness and mercy.” James 5:10 [New Living Translation]
How is it possible to meet these seemingly impossible standards?
Only with the knowledge of God’s love for us and the help of the Holy Spirit:
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:17-19 [New Living Translation]
“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22 [New Living Translation]
In short, tap the strength you need from God by relying on Him.
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” John 15:4 [New Living Translation]
Follow His lead by obeying Him, no matter how difficult that may feel to your "flesh", and others will see godly love in you (even though you may not even think you are living in love). That is how you will become "salt" and "light" to the world, as those who follow Christ are called to be [Matthew 5:13; Ephesians 5:8].