Exude love. Two words resounding in my heart, soul and mind lately. I don’t know if I quite understood what “loving thy neighbor” truly meant until recently. I used to think love was a dictating emotion that points out right and wrong. I felt so righteous about the “love” I gave to others, how “right” the wisdom I shared and the thoughts I had were.
This season has been humbling to say the least.
I think back to what I used to do to “love,” and honestly, I can’t say that what I shared was truly love. I now realize that a lot of my loving ways were actually surrounded by fear and control. It was so subtle and not my intent but those two enemies were at work – fear and control. Maybe it was because I experienced a lot of love wrapped in the same packaging. Maybe it was because I didn’t truly understand the love God had for me. I don’t have all the answers, by any means. However, in this season, as I continue to grow in my relationship with the Lord, He has shown me a deeper side of His love.
Love is a powerful emotion, choice, and way of living. In 1 John 4:19 it says “we love each other because he loved us first.” I believe this verse speaks to a reality that we can easily overlook. You see, when we live loved, the result is an outpouring of love for one another. We don’t love from a place of having an upper hand, demands or performance. It’s almost like trying to give someone money from an empty bank account. How can you give something to someone that you have not received yourself? You are loved, that is a fact. How much you know, feel or live from that place of love, is the question. The chaos of life plays a huge role in our hearts and how we approach and exude love. When we truly know His love for us and live from the identity and security of being loved, then we can exude Christ-like love to one another. I’ll be the first one to put my hand up for being guilty of not truly understanding the love of God and as a result I exuded control and fear and claimed it “in the name of love.”
In 1 John 4:18 it states, “perfect love expels all fear.” Love and fear rage war for domain in our hearts. It seems to me that when God’s perfect love steps in, fear must flee. The antidote for fear is perfect love. I am reminded of times where I would speak this over myself frantically in moments of fear. I would say over and over “there is no fear in perfect love.” It never seemed to work. I couldn’t connect to this “perfect love,” that existed in the arms of Christ.
As I have allowed God to move in my heart in this recent season of “just being” my understanding of God’s love for my heart has became more real. The way that I view His heart and intent towards me has changed. I used to think that the heart of God was harsh, corrective and hard to please. Now, I see that the heart of God exudes love. His approach, his voice, his intent, is love.
With this new discovery of his love towards me, it’s my turn to enter into a season of exuding love, like that of Christ. My love towards others in my life has been significantly challenged. In a time where I would “have the right” to be mad, bitter, offended towards others I have been challenged within to exude love despite what others have extended to me. I now understand why Jesus said in Luke 6:32, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.”
I GET IT! It’s SO EASY to love those who love me. I had been so busy embracing those who love me that I never really experienced loving others that maybe didn’t extend that same love. And if there were others that didn’t extend that love to me, I most definitely did not exude love towards them despite it.
Let me tell you, in the famous words of Marvin Gaye, “LOVIN AIN’T EASY!” Never in my life have I had to practice exuding love like I have today. I have had to fight hard to exude love, to find grace, and keep my ‘arms wide open’ (Thanks, Creed) with wisdom. I have been reminded by the Holy Spirit in this season that the greatest commandment Jesus left us with is found in Mark 12:28-31, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’No other commandment is greater than these.”
What does the love you exude look like? I encourage you to open your hearts to the love of the Lord. His grace will show you the way to his love and his love will show you how to love others as yourself [Mark 12:31].