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5 Practical Ways to ‘Love Because He First Loved Us’

  • Clarence L. Haynes Jr. Contributing Writer
  • 2020 1 Sep
5 Practical Ways to ‘Love Because He First Loved Us’

We love because he first loved us.1 John 4:19

We all know we should love. It’s fundamental to our faith as Christians. In fact, the whole of Christianity is based on the reality that God loves us.

The question, however, is: how do we transition from being receivers of love to being givers of love?

We’re commanded to love...and the reason is because he first loved us. So, are there ways to love because he first loved us? Can you really put this into practice?

I think you can, and in this article, I want to share with you who we’re commanded to love, how we’re called to love, and five ways to love because he first loved us:

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  • diverse group hug praying love because he first loved us

    Who Are You Supposed to Love?

    You cannot have a conversation about love without first defining who we need to love. Thankfully Jesus gives us the answer: 

    Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:37-39

    In short, Jesus is saying love God and love people.

    In reality, everyone qualifies as your neighbor, so there’s no shortage of people you’re supposed to love. I must confess...there are some “neighbors” who are easier to love than others. (Don’t act like I am the only one with those kinds of people in my life, I know you have them, too.)

    Yet Jesus puts no parameters on who we should love, just that we should love everyone. Yes, that includes that person, too. You don’t have to say their name out loud. You can keep it to yourself. We’ll just call them the special people in your life.

    How Are You Supposed to Love?

    Now that you know who you must love, the question remains: how are you supposed to love? Again, Jesus gives us the answer…as you love yourself.

    Think for a moment how you love yourself. By the way, I am not talking about some egotistical kind of love that has you staring in the mirror all day admiring how beautiful and wonderful you are. I am referring to the type of love that causes you to take care of yourself. To feed and clothe yourself. To work and earn an honest living. To take care of your responsibilities and your family. To make sure the basic and sometimes not-so-basic needs of life are met.

    This is how you love yourself, and this is how you should love everyone else. This is another way to love because he first loved us. You’re able to love yourself because God has first demonstrated that he loves you.

    The way he has loved you is the way you should love yourself...and therefore the way you should love others.

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  • love letters bible open to 1 Corinthians 13

    A Misunderstanding of Love

    There is a misunderstanding I must address before I share with you some ways to love. “Because he first loved us” sometimes causes people get the wrong definition of love. Love is often equated with blanket acceptance.

    We must recognize that love does not always mean you accept, sometimes it means you must correct. We don’t always like to point to this aspect of love but the Bible does remind us: 

    My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. – Proverbs 3:11-12

    Sometimes God’s demonstration of love for you is not leaving you in the condition you are in but correcting or disciplining you to get you out of it. This type of love doesn’t always feel good in the moment but you are usually so grateful afterwards.

    In learning ways to “love because he loved us.” I think we can find wonderful suggestions right out of 1 Corinthians 13, otherwise known as the love chapter. 

    Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. – 1 Cor. 13:4-7

    Following this instruction, here are five ways to love because he first loved us:

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  • 1. Love with Patience

    1. Love with Patience

    A true test of love is the amount of patience you may have (remember that person we mentioned earlier). Let me ask you, how many mistakes have you made in life? How many times have you told God this is the last time I will ever do that, and you did it again anyway? How many times have you been rebellious and decided to do your own thing? What was God’s response to you? Patience.

    It is amazing that amidst all the wrong steps you make in life, God never gives up on you. His love, commitment, and patience towards you is unwavering. We can do the same thing. Instead of chastising people when they make mistakes or being quick to write people off, think of the way God has dealt with you.

    Take the patience you have received and give it away.

    2. Love with Kindness

    Imagine if every Christian worldwide just exhibited a little more kindness. I honestly believe this one thing can open more doors to preach the gospel than anything else. There is an expression that says people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Kindness is all about caring. I define kindness as the gospel we preach (with our words) that is put into action. In fact, it is the kindness of God that is designed to draw us to him.

    Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin? – Romans 2:4 (NLT)

    Kindness is a great way to love. Because he first loved us by pouring out his great kindness. I sincerely believe that Christians who are kind have the potential to be the greatest soul-winners. Your kindness will draw people to you, making it possible to share the true love of Jesus with them.

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  • love one another scripture to signify we love because he first loved us

    3. Love Thinking of Others before Yourself

    If you’re really going to love people this aspect is critical. Love always seeks what is best for the other person with no agenda attached. There is no hidden motive, no self-seeking purpose. It’s simply about the well-being of that other person.

    Some people have been known to display “qualities” of love when they want something from someone else. They may show signs of kindness, caring, even some compassion but the real motive is they want or need something from that person. This is not love.

    If you are displaying real love towards a person, their needs are at the forefront. When you do this, it’s a wonderful way to love because he first loved us in this manner. Remember Jesus laid down his divinity and his life because he was thinking of you and not himself. When you love like this then it removes envy, boasting, pride, and disrespect because all these things point the spotlight on yourself and the moment you do that, love ceases to operate.

    4. Love with Short Records

    One of the great aspects of love is forgiveness. But forgiveness alone is not enough. You must take your forgiveness a step further if you want it to truly demonstrate the way to love. Because he first loved us by not only forgiving us, but also by not remembering our sins and not holding them against us.

    I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more. – Isaiah 43:25

    You have probably heard people say: I will forgive, but I will never forget. I want to ask you a question. If you say you forgive a person but you are always reminded of the amount of hurt and pain they caused you, have you truly forgiven that person?

    If every time you see or think of that person the emotion or pain of how they hurt you comes back, God still has some work to do in your heart. I don’t know if we have the ability to ever forget things people have done. What I am saying is that you can overcome the effects of what they have done.

    This type of love allows you to love a person without forever holding over their heads the wrongs they have committed against you. This is not easy. But it is freeing. And when you get there...you are really loving others the way God loves you.

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  • Bible text Love Your Enemies, love because he first loved us

    5. Love Your Enemies

    Probably one of the hardest ways to love is to love your enemies (or those we deem unlovable). It’s truly not that hard to love people who love you back. But what about loving people who choose not to love you back? This is what God does all day, every day.

    God continues to love people, many of whom refuse or have no interest in loving him back. If you go back to the earlier understanding of who we are to love, Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself. Guess who falls into the category of your neighbor? Your enemies and those who seem unlovable. I know you don’t want to think of them as your neighbor, but they are. Let’s take it one step further.

    Sometimes we forget that we were once unlovable. Not to our “neighbors” (even though some of us were) but to God. Our sin made us enemies of God and he didn’t let that get in the way of love.

    He first loved us when we were in our worst condition:

    But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. – Romans 5:8

    If you’re looking for a way to love the way he first loved us—then you must love your enemies. By the way, enemies can have different lifestyle choices, different doctrinal beliefs, or different political affiliations. They may think differently than you, serve a different god than you, or may not even believe in God at all. Yet we must still love them.

    After all, they are your neighbor; and you must love them as you love yourself.

    Love Is the Great Challenge

    I hope you see by now love is a great challenge. If you’re really going to love the way he first loved us, you are going to need some help. Here’s the good news, you have the Holy Spirit. This means you don’t have to try to conjure up love in your own strength or ability. You simply have to allow the Spirit of God in you to flow out of you.

    Galatians reminds us that one of the fruit or characteristics of the Holy Spirit is love. It makes sense because God is love. This means God has given you the capacity and the way to love just as he first loved us. He will do the work in you and through you; all you have to do is allow him to do it.

    I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. – Ezekiel 36:26-27

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    Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com


    This article is part of our larger resource library of popular Bible verse phrases and quotes. We want to provide easy to read articles that answer your questions about the meaning, origin, and history of specific verses within Scripture's context. It is our hope that these will help you better understand the meaning and purpose of God's Word in relation to your life today.

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