“Love everybody, always.”Bob Goff
In November, I bought Bob Goff’s devotional “Live in Grace, Walk in Love” and y’all, it’s been absolutely life changing. It focuses very heavily on literally living in God given grace and learning to walk in love. The reason I love this devotional is because of how it frames love – as a person. Love isn’t something floating around in the air. Love is a person. Love is Jesus. Jesus is love. If you want to be more like Jesus, you have to love. If you want to better love those around you, you have to become like Jesus. By becoming one, you become the other. It’s a win-win!
The devotional is not a step by step program of how to love others. It’s story after story of who Jesus is, who he loved, how he loved, and why he loved. The stories are paired with stories from Bob Goff’s life to make the reader ponder how she would love differently if she was more like Jesus and how if she was more like Jesus, how loving others would in turn look. It’s a super cool devotional and I highly recommend it.
One pattern I’ve noticed throughout the devotional is the why behind Jesus’s love. The who is clear – Jesus. The what – love. The when – 33 AD. The where – Calvary, outside Jerusalem. The why is typically thrown around as “because He loves!” or something along those lines. And yes, the why is because Jesus loves. But that’s who Jesus is – it’s impossible for Him to not love. Going further, the why behind the why is that Jesus doesn’t love in hopes of us loving him back. Jesus loves coming from a place of love. Take today, Easter Sunday. Two thousand years ago, Jesus suffered and endured the suffering you deserved because He loves you. He didn’t bear the beatings, he didn’t bear the ridicule, he didn’t bear the pain and suffering, he didn’t bear the rejection so that you would love Him. He did it because He loves YOU. He knew that doing this, in turn, some would choose to love Him back. And of course that is what He wants. He wants us to join Him in Heaven one day and spend eternity with Him. He doesn’t need us, but He wants us. Us loving Him back is the cherry on top. Although some would choose to love Him back, some will reject Him and refuse to love Him back. Jesus knew this. It didn’t stop Him from dying a painful death and resurrecting as the one true King. He still died and rose again for those who reject Him because even though they reject Him, He loves them. If we never choose to love Jesus back, He still would have died on the cross for ME. For YOU. There’s a pattern here. Jesus does everything from love. He always has, always will. And that’s the key – everything Jesus did was from love, not for love.
If Jesus died on the cross FOR love, He wouldn’t have done it. Or maybe He would have, but only for the ones who would in return choose Him back. Thank God Jesus didn’t die solely for those who would choose Him. I don’t know the numbers; I don’t know how many people throughout history chose Jesus. I don’t know how many reject Him. But I do know, that number doesn’t determine whether or not He died for you. You don’t have to question whether or not He died for you. The answer is, He did. He didn’t do it so that you would love Him (although I don’t want it to get lost that He does want your love, but He didn’t do it for your love… make sense??). He did it because He loves you. And that’s what Christianity is. Every other religion says that you have to do good things and sacrifice the right things and be good enough to be saved. Jesus and Christianity say that you never will be good enough – but Jesus is. And He loves you SO much that He took your place. You deserved that death. That sin, addiction, and secret you’ve kept hidden in the dark? You deserved death for that. But Jesus took your place. He came from a place of love to a place of despair, a place of hurt and shame and fear and weeping so that you, who will never be good enough, will be good enough through Him. Thanks be to God – the death penalty has been paid, once and for all. Paid by whom? Paid by love. Paid from love.
Today is a celebration of what Jesus did. He loved so much that He overcame death. Jesus didn’t ~just~ die for you. He rose up from the tomb, where you should have been, for you. Today is a celebration of what Jesus did from love. It’s such a joyous day, I can’t help but smile and jump for joy. Imagine a little jelly bean jumping on a trampoline – that’s me today (and everyday when I think about Jesus’s love for me)!! I’m so filled with joy from what Jesus did. Thank you Jesus! I also want to thank my Nana for filling me today, too… with food… thank you.
So practically – are you finding yourself arguing with people around you lately? Maybe you’re finding yourself struggling to be nice to those coworkers or people you interact with at work. Maybe you were told you aren’t loving someone enough. Maybe you love someone but don’t feel as if they appreciate it and love you back. Maybe you don’t feel as if you have any more love left to give. Think about Jesus’s why. He loved FROM love, not for love. When you’re arguing with someone, whether it be a spouse, roommate, s/o, coworker, rando on the street, know your why. Do not choose to not love them because they won’t love you in return (whoa – a triple negative?? Sorry to any English teacher reading this). Love them anyways. Love them because Jesus loved you. Love them from a place of love. When you feel as if you’re constantly giving love but not receiving love in return, take the focus off of you. It’s really and truly not about you, hate to break it to ya. Don’t keep loving someone for their love in return. Love them because you love them and love loving them. Love them because Jesus loved you. Whatever the reason is as to why you’re struggling to love others around you, don’t focus on you. Focus on them. Don’t think about what they’ll give you in return if you love them. Think about how you can love them regardless of whether or not they love you back – immediately or not. I guarantee you Jesus was not thinking about himself while He was on that cross. You were on His mind. But he wasn’t hanging there, bleeding and in agonizing pain, thinking about how you can repay Him one day. He was solely thinking about His love for you. That’s it. How much He loves you. If you want to be like Jesus, you’ve got to do the same. If you want to love better, you’ve got to do the same. Love from a place of love, not for love. Put the other person first. Do like Jesus did. Love –> become more like Jesus –> love more –> become more like Jesus.
1 Corinthians 16:14 says, “Do everything in love”.
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first love us”.
John 15:12 says, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you”.
1 John 4:10 says, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins”.
1 John 3:11 says, “For this is the message you heard from the beginning. We should love one another”.
The message is pretty clear – we are to love one another in everything we do as God loved us. This requires us to put ourselves aside and act and speak and think from a place of love. Quit being selfish with your love. Quit wanting love in return for your love. Quit over thinking your love for those around you. Quit refusing to love the difficult people in your lives just because they’re difficult. Love them anyways. Love them especially because they’re difficult. If you’re loving someone solely for the purpose to receive love, I think it’s time to re-evaluate, re-think, re-focus, re-group. That isn’t how you should be loving – not to mention, it’s not exactly healthy. Instead, remember why and how Jesus loves you. He doesn’t love you for your love in return. He loves regardless, he loves anyway. And you should do the same. I truly believe you’ll be more joy-filled, free, confident, and ironically, full of love if you love like Jesus did – freely and from love. I know personally that since November I’ve been focusing on loving others this way and I’ve noticed a change. Since then, I’ve felt more free and joyful and confident and full of love I didn’t know I could have. I don’t have to worry about if someone will love me in return for my love. I’m not trying to love people for anything in return. I’m trying to love the way Jesus loved – selflessly. Because that’s what I’m commanded to do! Heads up – this does require change. You’ve gotta quit loving with expectancy of love in return. You can’t get upset when you love someone and they don’t love you back. This isn’t true love. True love is selfless love that doesn’t require anything in return. Even when there might not be a return of love, love anyway. Love regardless. Do everything that you do, say everything that you say, the way Jesus did. From love, not for love.
If you remember anything from this blog post I want it to be this – Jesus loves you SO much He came from a place of love to a place of pain to die on the cross for your sins so that you can in return love those around you the same way he loves us – from love, not for love. Your greatest mission as a follower of Jesus is to glorify God by making Jesus’s love known to all. You can’t do this if you’re loving for love. So girl, know your reason for loving others. Is it because you truly understand the love Jesus has for you and you want others to experience that same love because it is seriously life changing? Or is it because you want to be loved in return? Ponder on that question today as you thank Jesus for the sacrifice He made for you. He didn’t have to, but He did. Because He loves you.
If your answer to that question is that you’re loving others because you understand the love Jesus has for you and you want others to experience that same love, keep it up! I’m proud of you, you’re doing great. If some days you flicker into the other category – remember, that’s okay, you’re human. But keep yourself in check. Before you do grand gestures of love (or even the smallest gesture of love), make sure your reasons are in the right place. From love, not for love. If your answer is that you’re loving to be loved in return, good, I’m glad we made that discovery. Now we can walk together and learn together what it looks like to love others from a place of love, not for love. You’ll never be satisfied loving others in hopes of them loving you back. Jesus loves you enough to fill any and all love shaped voids you’re experiencing of not being loved in return. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, we’re in this together. Everyday, I have to remind myself “from love, not for love”. I don’t always get it right, it can be challenging and hard, but with the help of Jesus and scripture I’m trying. And we can try together – to understand, appreciate, and walk in the love Jesus has for us. Once we understand, appreciate, and walk in the love Jesus has for us, that’s when loving others without the hopes of them loving us back is made easy (er). I hope you’ll take a look at your reason. It might differ right now from person to person, situation to situation. That’s fine – take notes and pay attention. Let’s grow in this together. I want you to truly understand Jesus’s love for you so that you can then truly love others from love and not for love. Let’s do this and make Heaven crowded. I say this because I love each and every single one of you reading this and I want to see you in eternity with me and my King one day. It’s gonna be the party of the century!! All the jelly beans jumping on trampolines. So much joy and happiness and best of all, love – love that stems from love. Thank you Jesus.