Decide to Love
Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “I know that love is ultimately the only answer to mankind's problems. Hate is too great a burden to bear. I have decided to love."
Today is an appointed day to remember this well-respected pastor who wanted us all to love each other. King’s moral compass from God’s Word propelled him to share his conviction despite two assassination attempts on his life—the last fatal. King wanted to see all people get along. It is similar to the prayer Jesus prayed. “That they may be one as we are one!” (John 17:11) What does “one” mean?
The “one” Jesus was praying for is the opposite of being divided into parts. It is to be united in will and spirit. Don’t we all want that—to get along with each other and overlook our differences? Then why aren’t we more united if that is our desire?
“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also must love one another.” John 13:34
There are three things that keep us from loving others:
We lack motivation. It is hard work and exhausting to press through emotions, relational distance, and engage with someone who believes and acts differently. However, the right motivation as disciples of the Lord is to love one another. “Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” John 13:34
Our nature is selfish. We see everything throw the lens of self. We care most for "numero uno." However, as believers, we are to deny ourselves. “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” Rom 12:10. Can we give preference to others who disagree with us or different than us?
Perhaps we fear rejection. To love others, we have to make ourselves vulnerable which means we could be put down or hurt. It is easier to be safe and not love anyone. Stay in the bubble of our self-world and be an island unto ourselves.
Here are Six Ways to Try to Love Others:
Start by caring for others. God created each of us uniquely and loves everyone therefore they have value. Honor the God-design in them. Sure, their perspective has been filtered by their experiences and environment either good or bad. Respect the difference. Remember God loves diversity and didn’t make us all the same.
Listen with the intent to understand. Without purposely deciding to listen you might only react emotionally. Try to comprehend what they are conveying and acknowledge what they say whether you agree with it or not. Let them know you heard them.
Have an open mind. You do not know everything. You could learn something that will give you more wisdom and a greater perspective on life and people. Is it possible the Holy Spirit can use them to teach you something?
View the situation from their point of view. Try to see things from their advantage point. You can argue with them all day long. They may see something from where they are standing that you do not. Don’t you want to know what they see, and what you may be missing?
Be sincere. Show genuine interest. Your attitude, words, and body posture should convey your most sincere desire to hear them and know them. Display genuine care and curiosity in them and what they have to say.
Be positive. Look for the best in them. Focus on the positive things they are saying and affirm what you can. Remember the love God gives us is not provoked and does not demand its own way, keeps no record of being wronged but hopes all things, and endures through every situation. (I Cor 134-7)
Love them. If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. In other words, if you don’t love them as God does, they won’t hear you… you are just making noise.
I encourage you to think on these things and put to practice what you can. The unity and love that Martin Luther King Jr. died for is possible.
Paul said, "if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all. If I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.” (1 Cor 13). That is why Martin Luther King Jr., and you and I as well, decide to love.
I encourage you this week to pray and consider how you can increase your ability to love others more.