A Different Way to Love

By February 25, 2015Life Lessons

As followers of Jesus Christ, you and I are called to be different. Not odd. But different. In fact, we’re called to be excellent and notable. Clearly, not in a prideful way. But instead in a way that people notice because our attitudes and actions transmit messages of love, hope and joy to the hearts  of others . . . even when they may not be able to describe it.

One of the ways we are called to be different is how we love others. At first this difference may seem slight, but believe me, it’s powerful. The love we are called to give and demonstrate is fashioned after God’s kind of love. And as we learn more about Him and as we become more mature in our Christian walk, we get better at sharing Christ-centered love with others. Let me explain: 

In the world, love is so often based on how we feel about the other person, whether it’s a friend, a family member, or even a co-worker or associate. For example, many of us have a friend who is kind, funny and smart. She’s pleasant to be around and you share a lot of the same interests. And you love her for the person she is and the character she exhibits. You might even have a friend in mind that reminds you of this kind of relationship.

Feeling love for another person like that is okay . . . but it’s not the different kind of love – the deeper and purer kind of love – you and I are called to give. As disciples of Jesus we want to love as God loves. 

In 1 John 4 we learn more of God’s kind of love. Verse 16 says, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”

Later in the chapter we learn this powerful truth, We love God because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

There is the difference. God is love. God loves first. And God’s love for us isn’t dependent on who we are to Him, but rather only dependent on who He is! He is love.

 Related: Forgive those who have hurt you  

Loving this way is a change in our hearts. We don’t love like the world loves. We want to love like God loves.

Last week I had an experience where I needed to check the way I was loving a friend of mine. This person was being kind of prickly. Does that ever happen to you? A person you know and care about is acting out and hard to get along with or even challenging your relationship. Or maybe you’ve called or tried to get in touch with a friend and you get no response. You feel ignored or not cared about.

The natural or worldly reaction is to bristle inside and pull back. To even withdraw love because of the way she is behaving. We’ve all done that. We learned this kind of love on the playground in elementary school. Or maybe even saw it modeled in our families. 

On this particular day my friend wasn’t being very friendly! She wasn’t attacking me or being rude. But she was being very self-centered and sharp. And I needed to decide how to respond. I had a choice. I could be offended. I could be hurt. I could reflect right back to her what she was showing me. Or I could choose a different response.

That’s when I turned to God’s way of loving and I made a decision to love her anyway. To love because of who I am and the powerful love of God that lives in and through me. And not react to her by who she was “being” at the time. 

That’s a HUGE difference! Loving anyway . . . coming from a place of love . . . being love. That is when the love of God is flowing through you to the others. And when that happens, you are demonstrating what Jesus says to you and to me, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:35

Do you see the shift? Can you see that you love because of who you are and what’s in your heart, and not because a person is deserving of your love. Your love isn’t dependent on who the other person is, but instead your love for others depends on who you are. And when your heart is aligned by God and His truth, then you’re free to love and to care for others “anyway.” 

Related: Discover God’s Plan for Your Life

Loving God’s way is good for others, plus it’s good for us, also! Loving this way is solid and secure. We are grounded in truth. And instead of taking on resentment, hurt or bitterness, we can remain in love. In love we can care. We can pray. We can shed the light of God into the lives of those who need Him and His care. 

Loving God’s way is a big deal! The shift from the world’s way to His way is at the very heart of our life with Him. We see the importance of love in 1 John 4:20-21 – If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.”

Learning to love this different way is a process and requires each of us to examine our own hearts and allow the Holy Spirit to work in us to perfect (mature) the love. We examine our hearts by “looking” at our feelings, our reactions, our emotions (the soul part of us). And then making a choice to change . . . to align our way of being with God and His ways.  Bit by bit and little by little we are transformed. And then the light of Christ comes from you into the world that so desperately needs His love. 

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:16

 

33 Comments

  • Febbie says:

    but how do you keep on loving someone yet they hurt u each and every time.

    • Susan Gregory says:

      Loving someone doesn’t mean you approve of their behavior or even that you need to be in relationship with them! It’s the agape love we are called to have. Wanting the best for them. Desiring that they come into full relationship with the Lord. That they receive the wisdom they need for a good life.

      It does NOT mean you remain a target or allow abuse. Set health boundaries, which may mean you love them from afar.

      Check out this article. It might offer some help: Becoming a Duck, a Matador, or a Turtle

  • Chulekazi Kwayini says:

    Wow! Thank you, Susan. I thank God for you. I will share this with my youth at my church and i pray to God to keep me in His Love no matter what.

    Thank you and may God continue blessing you, Susan

    • Susan Gregory says:

      And thank you for your blessing.

      Our God is so good and loves us so very much. He wants us to be a reflection of His love to others.

      Be blessed in all you do!

  • Naomi says:

    Dear Susan,

    I have been reading your blog, following your teachings, I must admit they are so powerful, encouraging, motivate, empowering to do the things of God. You might help me on this! I love my family so much, but I don’t see that much if they are acknowledging my love to them, it hurts me a lot. Am thankful for the word of Love that you have shared with us.

    • Susan Gregory says:

      Naomi,

      Family dynamics can be tough. Women are the nurturers and often the one who gives and gives. Seems like that’s the situation with you, yet not a lot of that giving a loving is returned.

      I encourage you to teach your family members how to express love to one another. Even sitting around the dinner table, have each person share a kind thought to the person on their left. Or make a game of being a “secret pal” to another family for a few days. Keep if fun. Keep it simple. And allow your family to experience the joy of loving others as they express themselves.

      Let me know if this helps! And you will likely have other ideas that can encourage your family to love each other in more demonstrative ways.

      Be blessed.

  • This is very encourging.

  • Martha says:

    Does loving like God include holding a spouse accountable for their actions or do we just love and forgive and let the other continue in sin? I’m trying to create boundaries and love at the same time.

    • Susan Gregory says:

      Hi Martha,

      Love and forgiveness are gifts that you give another. However, love doesn’t mean you allow yourself to be mistreated emotionally or physically. And if your spouse is breaking marriage bonds, then while you can love and forgive, you need not stay in the midst of sin.

      You might want to get a copy of the teaching course I did about this, which goes into much greater detail. It’s called Giving Forgiveness.

      BTW, I was in a tough situation with a spouse who betrayed often on many levels. I know it’s a heartbreaking and very difficult time. You are in my prayers.

  • Marian Gari says:

    hi susan. i am so thankful to d Lord for using u to reveal his message to me today.truly d Lord is good.He let me lead u to ur blog.this is really exactly what i needed.i have been struggling with this most important thing in life called love.God has been teaching me to love unconditionally.it was hard but through God’s grace and mercy i can overcome.thank you so much for being such an inspiration and encourager to many people including me.may God bless you more and more.

  • Latoya says:

    Hi Susan!
    I think the Lord lead me to read this message from you (and to know that I wasn’t going to read it). This word had a lot of message for me as I am currently going through a heart break right now (personal). Feeling rejected, used & worthless are some of the feelings I have and feeling of bitterness towards the person.

    As I read I realize that the Lord was speaking to me and asking me to love “in spite of” and unconditionally and to let go. Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you at this time to help me and others remember that we are of God and NOT of this world, so we should love as He love!

    God bless you and continue to avail yourself in His service.

    • Susan Gregory says:

      Dearest Latoya,

      I so know that struggle. And I also have heard from the Lord about “being love” to others. It’s a huge shift. And it’s so different from the world’s ways. The greatness in following Jesus is that His way is the way to peace, security, truth and joy. So while we are called to stretch ourselves the result is good for all, including us!

      Jesus said that He came to heal the brokenhearted. Feeling hurt by another isn’t wrong. We would be totally hardened if we didn’t feel emotional pain. But we want our response to be God’s way. And that’s all part of walking in the Spirit.

      Blessing to you!

  • Helene says:

    Thank you ! This message was a part of my Lenten reading today and it brought such understanding to all the actions of Lent : prayer, fasting and alms giving. The first and foremost reason we “do” these is because if we are of God and He is in us , then Love is in us and we do everything out of Love, God’s Love, for after all “love is patient, love is kind, love is ………………………”

  • Brenda says:

    Thank you for this inspiring message. I too am struggling with the love aspect. Which I should not be as God loves us as we are. He knows us. It gave me a lot to think about as well as put love into action.
    Thanks again.

  • Maribel says:

    I work in customer service so this is a real eye opener. Its so easy to love those who love me back. Its those that dont that I have to love even more so that they see Him and not me.

  • Pumla says:

    Dear Susan,

    Praise to God. Today I am very emotional was about to turn my back on a friend. However God calls on me to be different in love. Thank you for reminding me of God’ love for me, forgiving me and showing me his grace.

    Bless you Susan.

  • danielle says:

    WOW this message was right on time. I often struggle with those very thoughts of being ignored or cared about by a friend who may not be as responsive as I would like. I find myself pulling back and wanting them to feel hurt because my feelings have been hurt. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve often ignored those friends at times, because of my hurt feelings. I’ve felt the tug and pull of GOD on my heart trying to steer my in the right direction. I’ve felt the conviction in my Spirit letting me know that is not the behavior Christ desires from me, a minister of the Gospel, a woman of GOD.

    Thank you so much for being the voice of GOD in my ears today. I am Praying to do better and to be better. Thank you LORD for your patience, forgiveness, and LOVE for YOUR people, and never treating us as our sins deserve.

    Peace and Blessings
    Danielle

    • Susan Gregory says:

      Danielle, as you can probably understand, the reason I can speak to this issue is because I too have been convicted by the Holy Spirit to change my ways. So I get exactly what you mentioned. The fabulous news is that God corrects because He loves us. And we can lean into Him as we’re transformed by His truth.

      Thanks for taking the time to write . . . you are right on!

      Be blessed!

  • Debora Powell says:

    Thank you for that word. I just finished the fast Saturday and feel even closer to God than ever before. He leads, guides, and directs my path. I need His guidance on everything I do. You have give me a new way of thinking through your inspirations I read each day and continues to read even now after the fast. I must learn to love because of what is in me (My Lord and Saviour). I get frustrated and disappointed with the way people act and how they treat others, and it makes me want to act differently toward them. I must love them despite it all and pray for them, so that God will change their heart. Thank you Susan and I thank God for giving you this ministry to help others. I pray for such a ministry to help others and to let my light shine so others can see God in me!

    • Susan Gregory says:

      Thank you, Debora.

      Our life in Christ requires us to change – to be transformed. It’s a process and as we learn and grow, we become more effective servants for our Lord and brighter for others to see.

      Be blessed and thank you for your kind words.

  • Sister Brandy Dudley says:

    Awesome message Sister Susan! We are called to be very different from the world! In my walk with God, I strive to love all the way God loves! Let us pray for each other that we stay in the love and share the love of God. By the way, the Fast coming along great! I praise God for beginning to molding me within this fast!

    May God bless you!

    Exhorter Sister Brandy Dudley

  • Donna says:

    Awesome! Someone once asked why I loved the way I did. My response was, “It’s just who I am.” What my response should have been was, “It’s just who God is, and it’s He who is in me.”
    Thank you so muchfor you inspiring messages.
    Stay blessed.
    Donna

  • Kamia says:

    I want to say this was truly needed today. This is confirmation I needed I have been dealing with a friend who I truly honor as my best friend but every time him & I talked he would act as if he was always angry with me. I hadn’t did a thing to him , never hardly see him. Instead I always was always there even after the fact he would treat me a certain way. Lord I absolutely love and adore you!

  • J. Zuniga says:

    I don’t understand how you loved her. Did you just sit quietly by and change your attitude towards her, did you tell her you love her. Did you rebuke her for the wrong attitude and tell her this is not right. Just trying to understand what actually happened.

    • Susan Gregory says:

      I centered on loving her and not judging her. She was going through a hard time. I continued to support her. She wasn’t asking for my advice. So I didn’t offer it. I listened. I prayed. And I befriended her.

      Loving the way God loves is a huge difference in the way we have been trained in the world. It calls us to put our own ego aside and focus on the truth of the gospel. This situation with this friend isn’t the first time I was confronted with this lesson from God’s Word. I’ve had to face the pride in me that rears it’s head. I’ve had to “watch myself” as my carnal soul tries to play games or get defensive.

      Being love is a position rather than a feeling. It’s how I want to be to all the people I encounter. I am not always successful. But the more I keep this truth at the forefront of my thoughts, the more I am able to succeed and be the person God wants me to be.

      I hope this helps!

      • Pat says:

        It is not easy to love the way that God loves. That is why I try to ask God to fill me with his holy spirit everyday so that the Holy Spirit can continue to work on me and develop the 9 fruits within me. I cannot love the way that God does without his help. I have to remind myself that God is love and if I want others to see God in me, I need to show them his love. I fall short sometime because God is still working on me and my walk with him includes him working on me from the inside so that it shows up on the outside.

        Susan, thanks for allowing God to use you to spread the message of his love and grace.

  • Desdia Booth says:

    I love this and as I have grown in God’s word I’ve had to put this to action and it really does make a difference in how you feel and how others see you. Thank you

  • Laiyen says:

    Awesome indeed!!!! What a wonderful way to start my day. Totally inspired with your sharing today. Loved your message.

    Yes indeed – “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
    Matthew 5:16”

    Thank you for the awesome work you are doing. I had bought one of you electronic books on Amazon using Kindle and am enjoying it tremendously. Just completed Daniel Fast last Friday and must say that the journey has empowered me and given me strength. I look forward to more of what the Lord will do in my life and I commit it to Him daily. The Lord continue to bless you abundantly in every way <3 <3 <3

    • Susan Gregory says:

      Thank you for your great message. We are called to be different! The Bible even calls us a “peculiar people.” And love truly is the most important for us – so many “clanging bells” these days.

      Be blessed and thanks again!

      • Pamela. Hart says:

        I enjoyed your your message this morning it is very uplifting and a wonderful way to start my day by remembering that no matter what people think or how they feel about me i’m to love them as God loves us ,which is unconditionally because that’s what God would do. I’m also doing the Daniel Fast with my church family and i’m so thankful to God for keeping on track and he had removed my desire to eat unhealthy food, as i go through my faith walk with him. Thanks again for your encouraging words and may God continue you to bless you for the work you are doing for his Kingdom.

        • DEAR SUSAN, I HAVE BEEN READING YOUR BLOG AND I MUST SAY THAT THEY ARE SOOOOO INSPIRING AND ENCOURAGING.THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS YOU!!!!!

          • Susan Gregory says:

            Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Patricia. God is so good and my blessing is that He allows me to share what He puts in my heart to others all over the world. He so wants His children to fully realize the amazing and complete grace we have because of Jesus; to follow and live by His truth; and to experience His presence always. That’s my hope for all of us! We are blessed!

            In and for Him,

            Susan

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