How do you show love? Do you demonstrate love to strangers or reserve it for only those you know well? I believe love is impossible to truly give away in and of ourselves…without God putting it in us. God sees things through a uniquely filtered lens. He loves us with, in spite of, and sometimes because of our peculiar (even malodorous) flaws. By ourselves, we tend to have “loving feelings” toward those who are nice to us, look OK and don’t smell too bad. Fortunately for all of us, the Lord doesn’t have those prerequisites.
I don’t have a problem showing my family and loved ones how much they mean to me (most of the time). I make it a point to demonstrate love to strangers by noticing something special and then mentioning it to them. “You have such pretty eyes” or “what good insight you have.” I’m always a little stunned by how deeply most people are moved and how much it builds them up to hear a positive word from an unexpected source. How many times have you noticed something admirable in a stranger but didn’t voice it?
A friend recently told me she makes it a point to compliment at least one total stranger every day. That is such an easy goal, but one that can truly enhance someone’s life. A kind word, based on intentionally kind thinking, changes things for the giver as well as the receiver.
There is a movie produced about 20 years ago called “Pay it Forward.” The idea being that when someone does something nice for you (especially when it isn’t earned or deserved) that instead of paying back the kindness, you pay it forward to another unsuspecting/undeserving person. What a wonderful way to show love.
The hardest time for any of us to let the love flow is when it’s directed at someone we don’t really like too much. Yeah, yeah, that’s not very nice of me, but if we’re honest we all have those people in our lives. The most we can do in our own power is to tolerate, not love, in that circumstance. When we tap into God’s pure love and attempt to give that away, our actions transcend toleration and become sacrificial acts of honest love. Again—there is great reward for both the giver and receiver. And it’s not optional. 1st John 4:8 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”
Are you able to look for ways to show love? Do you wait for opportunities you happen on to or do you store it up and only lavish it on those that fit the emotional criteria? The way you give it is probably the way you receive it. So another way to measure this could be: Are you getting all the love you need in the fullest measure? Remember, it’s impossible to have contentment without love.