Love Without Conditions or Limits
- Thursday, March 22, 2012
Editor's note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Bob Goff's new book, Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World (Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2012).
You know that the greatest action Jesus calls you to is love – to love God, and to love other people. Yet responding to that simple call is often surprisingly difficult. In this fallen world where people often don’t seem loveable and loving actions seem to demand too much time and energy, you may think of many great excuses for limiting your love or placing conditions on it.
But Jesus continues to call you love as He does, without conditions or limits. If you dare to respond to His call, He will empower you to put love in action, no matter what. Here’s how you can love as Jesus does:
Be there. Just as Jesus loved people by actually coming to Earth to be present with them, He calls you to spend time with people rather than just thinking about them, agreeing with them, or talking about how much you love them. So make time to be present with the people you sense God calling you to reach out to, and be willing to sacrifice other pursuits so you can give them your undivided attention when you’re together.
Let go of religion. Don’t try to impress God with religion. Instead, invest your efforts in what God really cares about: simply incorporating love into your life to the fullest extent.
Express your love in audacious ways. Use your God-given creativity to express your love boldly to others, whenever you have an opportunity to do so. Give your love to others freely, with abandon. Enjoy whimsical ways of showing others you love them.
Learn from your failures. When other people reject you or when you fail to reach them with your love, don’t despair. Instead, ask God to show you what He wants you learn from the experience. Don’t give up your efforts to love people to the fullest, even when it costs you a lot to do so, because God promises that it will worth it.
Open doors for others. Express your love for people by doing whatever you can to give other people good opportunities in life – from giving blood to help sick and injured people heal, to helping unemployed people find jobs.
Expect God to use you even you’re broken. Realize that brokenness doesn’t disqualify you from serving God by serving others; in fact, it helps you, because it gives you more compassion for people in need. God will use you in His kingdom work despite and even because of the brokenness in your life. All you need to do is just say “yes” to God in every situation, and rely on the strength that He will give you. Remember that God, who invites you, is much stronger than the obstacles in your life.
Give generously. Make a habit of regularly and generously giving your resources (such as time, talent, energy, and money) to support God’s work on Earth. Your ordinary efforts will change the world in extraordinary ways when you give to express love for God and others. If you’re having trouble giving generously, make sure that you’re deriving your sense of security from your relationship with Jesus, which is unshakeable and will give you the confidence you need to give freely.
Learn how to receive when you’re in need. You can learn just as much about love from graciously receiving help from others when you need it as you can from giving to others in need. Also, God may want to teach others about love by having them help you. So give people opportunities to help you when you could use help, such as during a crisis.
Communicate encouraging words. Ask God to help you use encouraging words whenever you speak and write to others; those words can powerfully convey love to them.
Give people grace. Keep in mind how much grace God has given you through Jesus, and let your gratitude for that motivate you to be graceful with others who have made mistakes.
Choose the right friends. Since you become like the people you often spend time with, it’s important to surround yourself with loving people who will inspire you to become a more loving person yourself. Let go of friendships with people who are influencing you to become more selfish and embrace new friendships with people who challenge you to put love into action more in your life.
Live for an audience of one. Live to please God alone, rather than other people. When you respond to God’s calls to serve others, don’t expect recognition or appreciation from people for doing so; see that as a bonus, but not necessary. Help others in secret when you can, as a way of expressing your love for God purely, without any strings attached.
Be real with others. Don’t hide who you really are behind a fake image when you reach out to other people. Ask God to give you the confidence you need to risk being open, honest, and vulnerable in your relationships with others. That’s the only way you can authentically express love to them.
Pick a fight instead of an opinion. When you’re disturbed by a specific issue of injustice in the world, go beyond just forming an opinion about it. Ask God to help you actually do something about it. Take whatever steps God leads you to take to fight injustice, no matter how much it costs you to do so. Be a part of changing the world by helping to turn something that’s wrong into something that’s right.
Forgive those who have hurt you. Rely on God’s help to follow His command to forgive the people who have hurt you, and always keep in mind how much God has forgiven you for, thanks to Jesus. As you move forward, unclench your fists and relate to people in a “palms up” way, by continuing to love others without fear because you’ve chosen to trust in the power of God’s love working through your life.
Adapted from Love Does: Discover a Secretly Incredible Life in an Ordinary World,copyright 2012 by Bob Goff. Published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, Tn., www.thomasnelson.com.
Bob Goff is the founder and CEO of Restore International, a non-profit organization fighting injustices committed against children. Restore’s mission is to make a difference on behalf of those who do not otherwise have a voice. Restore International has worked with Uganda’s judiciary in more than 200 cases to free children from wrongful imprisonment without trial. In 2007, the Restore Academy was started, a school in the war-torn region of Gulu. In India, Restore has intervened to relieve minor girls from a life of forced prostitution, leading to the identification and arrest of more than 50 perpetrators. Bob shares leadership in a Washington law firm, Goff & DeWalt, and is admitted to practice in California and in Washington. He serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Uganda to the United States and is an adjunct professor at Pepperdine Law School (Malibu) and Point Loma Nazarene University (San Diego). Visit Bob’s Web site at: http://bobgoff.com/.
Whitney Hopler is a freelance writer and editor who serves as both a Crosswalk.com contributing writer and the editor of About.com’s site on angels and miracles (http://angels.about.com/). Contact Whitney at: email@example.com to send in a true story of an angelic encounter or a miraculous experience like an answered prayer.
Publication date: March 22, 2012
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