Spiritual Growth and Christian Living Resources

10 Habits Christians Should Practice to Better Love One Another

  • April Motl Crosswalk.com Contributor
  • 2018 18 Jun
10 Habits Christians Should Practice to Better Love One Another

I was recently talking with someone about some relationship struggles they were experiencing. The need for patience bubbled to the surface of the conversation. While our lives were on different paths, I could resonate with this need for patience. This quality is the first adjective used to describe love in 1 Corinthians, “Love is patient…” And yet, it can be so hard for us to get past this most basic part of loving each other. 

In our relationships, it is more than just the thought that counts. God wants us to love not just in word but also in deed! Here are 10 habits Christians should practice to better love one another: 

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1. Practice forgiveness.

1. Practice forgiveness.

One of the first red flags that we are holding onto something we need to forgive is impatience. Unforgiveness clogs our soul’s pathways for love by creating stumbling blocks and spiritual footholds (2 Corinthians 2:10-11). Strangely, our impatience might not dump out on the person we need to forgive, but rather someone we feel more comfortable with. So if you find yourself struggling with flare ups of impatience or anger at those you love, spend some time praying over whether or not you might have some unforgiveness harbored in your heart. 

Lord, your Word says that unforgiveness can be a snare in relationships. Please show me any places in my heart that need forgiveness and give me your grace to forgive others as you have forgiven me.

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2. Practice self-awareness or "soul checking."

2. Practice self-awareness or "soul checking."

Emotional responses communicate something about me; they don’t command me. So if I am angry or short, I need to take some time and sift through everything that I might be not dealing with, and make sure my heart is clear of that kind of inflammatory baggage. I also need to take stock of how I am caring for my spiritual and physical life. Sometimes these emotions are just red-flagging us that we need more sleep, less caffeine, more quality time with the Lord, better fellowship time with people who encourage our faith, etc. We need to listen to our responses, but not let them lead us. 

Father, teach me to become aware of my issues that hamper my ability to love those around me. Teach me to take responsibility for them and show me how to grow past them.

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3. Practice praying God's strength into your weakness.

3. Practice praying God's strength into your weakness.

I learned this habit from the woman who mentored me and it has been so important in my life! When you struggle with something, like loving people well, do a Scripture search for all the verses that speak about God’s love and then pray those verses into your weakness. For example, if impatience is robbing my ability to love people, I might pray, “Lord, your Word says you are slow to anger and abounding in loving kindness. Please be strong in my weakness, make me slow to anger and overflow with your abounding love.” 

She taught me to make a list with two columns: one for my weakness (spell it out and own it) then a second column for God’s strength, filled with Bible verses describing each one. When I come face to face (again!) with my weakness, I grab that list and pray through it. Eventually, you get some verses tucked into your memory for spiritual “fast food” in your weakness! 

Lord, be strong in my _______________ (area you struggle with). Show me Your perfect strength and teach me to lean into You for strength and growth. Thank You for being the source of all I need to overcome ____________ (area) and for being the source of perfect love in my life.

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4. Practice centering your identity and worth in Christ's love.

4. Practice centering your identity and worth in Christ's love.

Loving people is so central to our experience as Christ followers (John 13:35); Christ’s love is meant to flow out of us as a testimony of him in our lives. But when we lose touch with the Lord’s love, we end up loving people with our less-than-abounding human love, which often falls short. If you find that someone in your life is just hard for you to love right now, it might be because you need to get recharged in God’s love for you. 

Sometimes, I find this principle at work in my marriage. If I love my husband with a love that needs back, instead of Christ’s sacrificial love, I end up getting my feelings hurt, perhaps I end up acting more needy than I want to be, and as a whole the relationship is less joyful. But when I love my husband freely from a place of being satisfied and secure in Christ’s love for me, our relationship flourishes. 

Father, grace me to be centered and filled up with your love until it flows freely out of me on those around me. Thank you for your love. Open my eyes and heart to your love so I might be keenly aware of you.

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5. Practice using wisdom in your relationships.

5. Practice using wisdom in your relationships.

One of the difficult realities I have discovered is that while God calls us to love everyone, he also warns us not to open our hearts to people who behave certain ways. We are instructed, “Above all else, love one another deeply,” (1 Peter 4:8) and also, “Above all else, guard your heart…” (Proverbs 4:23). In the long run, this balance protects our ability to love others with a full and healthy love. When we tatter our hearts by pinning them on people or relationships that are emotionally or spiritually toxic, it depletes our ability to be healthy and loving in other, more deserving relationships. 

If you wonder what kinds of people and behaviors the Bible instructs us not to have close relationships with, I share some personal experience with this principle here. Be wise with your heart. If you profess to be a Christian, your heart is not your own. You were bought with a price (1 Corinthians 7:23) and the one who paid for you instructs you to be wise in how you share your heart with others.

Lord, grant me wisdom in my relationships so that they might be full and healthy, according to your design. Grace me to discern the ways you are leading me in each relationship.

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6. Practice getting more of God's Word into your life.

6. Practice getting more of God's Word into your life.

We also need to guard our hearts from our own derailing untruths. Getting Scripture in our lives cleanses unhealthy expectations from our relationships and anchors us in truth. As wives, moms, friends, etc., we need our hearts freed up to love people well because the world around us desperately needs love! The number one way to fully become that loving woman (or man) God designed us to be is to overflow with the Truth that sets us free (John 8:32).

While keeping up with her young children, Ruth Graham left her Bible open all day and each time she walked past it, she read a little more. I have devotionals tucked in different places in the house so I can grab a quick Spiritual “bite” in a similar manner.

Father, fill me up with your word so that your love and truth would spill out of my life, instead of me spilling all around. Show me ways to treasure your Word into my heart so that in the moment of need your word is right on the tip of my tongue and forefront of my mind.

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7. Practice the art of listening and watching your family.

7. Practice the art of listening and watching your family.

Sometimes, especially when life gets busy, family members might do something that just seems to make everything a little bit harder. I’ve learned that this is an opportunity to notice the “red flag.” It might be a signal that individual is sending up to let you know, “Hey! I need your attention! Please notice me!” Or it might be just enough of a speed bump that the Lord is flagging me to slow down and tend my first priority after him - my precious family! So pray for the Lord to make you aware of the red flags that say, “This is important! Pay attention!”

Lord, teach me how to look well to the needs of my family so that I could be a vessel that inserts your love into those places.

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8. Practice asking questions to know how to better love your family.

8. Practice asking questions to know how to better love your family.

In some seasons of life, your loved one may have a need that you can fill to demonstrate your love and care. Your relative might not be a person who wants financial help, but at a particular moment, it might just be the best way to say, “You’re not alone right now and we all love you!” There have been seasons when my husband’s job as a pastor needed different kinds of support, like a listening ear, hands-on help, or he just needed me to give him lots of space and cheering from the sidelines. Do you know the heart needs of the people you love most?

Lord, give me eyes to see __________ (name) with, the way you do. Show me how to love him/her. Open my eyes and ears to become aware of how I can be an extension of your hands and heart in his/her life.

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9. Practice praying over your family.

9. Practice praying over your family.

Regardless of love language or season of need, we all require prayer! Investing in your family and friends through prayer is a very precious gift of love. We should all be praying individually over those we love. But also, praying together is of special value. 

My grandparents believed in God, but kept Him rather quietly enthroned in their hearts. When my grandpa was in his last days, we all gathered around his hospital bed in the middle of the living room, held hands, and prayed aloud together. It was more than just saying grace before a meal. It was heartfelt and honest before the Father, for each other. He said, “Wow! Why did we wait so long to do this? We should have been sharing this for years!” Praying for one another knits our hearts together in a sweet, loving way as we lift each other up to the Lord.

Lord, grow in me a call to pray over and with my loved ones. Make me like the two friends who brought their lame friend to Jesus through a hole in a roof. Make me a stretcher-bearer friend who constantly lifts my loved ones to your throne.

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10. Practice praying over your own spiritual growth in this area.

10. Practice praying over your own spiritual growth in this area.

Sometimes, we think that because our intent is to love those around us, that we are automatically good at it. This isn’t exactly true. When it comes to relationships, it is more than the thought that counts. Our spouses, children, extended family, friends, church, and world need us to learn the art of loving them. Their need requires us to grow so we can hear the Holy Spirit showing us the best ways to pour His love on His children. 

Father, grow me to be a man/woman who loves like you. Make me a vessel to pour your love on those around me. Fill me with your patience and kindness, and make my love one that never envies or acts proud. Help me put others first and be slow to frustration, grant me grace to keep no record of wrongs, and teach me to love in ways that celebrates truth and holds on to hope. Grow me to love like you. Amen.

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