It’s just a couple of days after Valentine’s Day, and relationships are still on my mind for some reason (the heart decorations still hanging in the coffee shop I’m writing in could be part of it). I’ve recently been thinking a lot about why we engage in any sort of relationship, whether it be dating, friendships, family, work-related, or in the church. Why ask such a question? Because, lets be honest, relationships often cause a ton of stress. A friend betrays our confidence, a co-worker’s foibles drive us up the wall, our spouse and us seem to be constantly divided, etc. In fact, in my just over a decade in ministry, by far the most prevalent problem walking through my door has been dysfunctional relationships. How do we not only navigate the difficulties of relationships, but actual turn every relationship we are in into a POSITIVE for everyone involved?
1 John 2:10 says: Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. I was really amazed when I looked up what the term love here means. Love as referred to here means taking loving action for someone else, which is pretty contrary to how we often think of love. Too often we envision love like many middle schoolers I’ve known. They sit in their room “loving” a member of the opposite sex that they’ve probably never even spoken with. They think about them at length, journal their thoughts, stalk their social media pages, and speak glowingly about their love interest to their friends. But, they never actual do anything about it. They never speak to this person or do anything positive for them; they simply crush on them from a distance. In a sense many of us are prone to this. I often have people start a conversation with “I love my spouse/parent/child, but they make me so angry.” They express love for them verbally, but because of struggles in life do little to nothing to act lovingly towards them. See friends, that’s the big kicker here. To really love someone is to take action to improve and better their life, ensuring they do not stumble and that they live the best life possible.
I want to leave you with a big, but important, challenge. Write down the first five names that come to your mind. Friends, family, co-workers, whoever comes to mind. Next to their name write 2-3 ways that you can actually show them love this week. It does not have to be seemingly gigantic things, but can include things as simple as praying for them, doing a task without being asked, inviting them to dinner, meeting a need they have, etc. Let’s show real Christian love this week by taking loving action for others.