August 27, 2018
“Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:2 (MSG)
I’m not a softhearted poet. I’m not a people-pleasing idealist. I live with full-throttle ambition and no shortage of self-interest. I’m impatient and sometimes insecure. I jockey for position, and I like exclusive privileges. I can be judgmental, insensitive, petty and resentful. Oh, and I can be cheap and stingy.
But I want to love like Jesus.
Why? Because I know it’s the best way to live. When we love like Jesus, we’re lifted outside ourselves. We shed self-interest — with our spouse, our kids, friends, everyone. His brand of love sees beyond the normal range of human vision — over walls of resentment and barriers of betrayal. When we love like Jesus, we rise above petty demands and snobbish entitlement. We loosen our tightfisted anxiety and relax in a surplus of benevolence.
Most of all, the Jesus model of love inspires us in following the best way to live, “the most excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31b, NIV).
I want to love like that.
But can anyone really love like Jesus? After all, He raised the bar of love to extraordinary heights. Love your enemies? Walk the extra mile? Turn the other cheek? Seriously? This is love beyond reason, isn’t it?
Of course. And that’s the point.
To love like Jesus, we need to think and feel. We need reason and emotion. Both head and heart, working together. It’s the only way to bring perfect love into our imperfect lives.
Here’s the truth: When you open your heart, love changes your mind. Let that sentence soak in. Your mind can do an about-face and be transformed when it receives a divine impulse from your heart. You’ll experience a revolution in your thinking when you allow your heart to enter the conversation. It’s what Paul was getting at when he said, “You’ll be changed from the inside out” (Romans 12:1b, MSG).
If you’re seeking a reasonable love, you’ll miss out on an extraordinary love — that’s not cautious but extravagant. You’ll miss out on the power to find a love you didn’t know you had.
I’ve been on a long quest to know how the Ideal Model of Love could rub off on my imperfect life. And here’s what I’ve learned: Loving like Jesus is more obtainable than you might imagine. His teaching and example reveal at least five distinct and practical qualities of His love:
If you want to love like Jesus, you’ve got to …
- become more mindful — less detached;
- become more approachable — less exclusive;
- become more graceful — less judgmental;
- become more bold — less fearful;
- become more self-giving — less self-absorbed.
Is this an exhaustive list of how Jesus loved? Of course not. But it’s a way to get an earthly handle on this heavenly ideal of love. Time and again, Jesus demonstrated these five qualities and spoke about them, not as unreachable ideals. These are doable.
Today’s key verse reminds us: “Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that” (Ephesians 5:2).
I’m optimistic about getting better at loving like Jesus. Why? Because this love isn’t illusive. It isn’t pie-in-the-sky. It isn’t out-of-reach nor relegated to untouchable saints. It’s real. Jesus gives us practical steps to love in extraordinary ways. He calls us to embody these five qualities. Are they difficult? You bet. But not insurmountable. Will you and I fail in living them out? Absolutely. But don’t be discouraged. For it’s in our failed attempts that we learn to better travel the most excellent way.
Lord, I want to love like Jesus. I want to love without being cautious or in order to get something. Help me give myself to others. Fill me with Your Spirit every moment of every day to love like that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (NIV)
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REFLECT AND RESPOND:
As you reflect on the five ways to love more like Jesus briefly noted in this devotion, which one do you want to do most … and why?
Which person in your life do you most want to love like Jesus? Why? And what specifically can you do today for that person? Share your thoughts in the comments!
© 2018 by Les Parrott. All rights reserved.