Being loving

I often tell young people, “You are not obliged to fall in love with anyone; you are obliged to be loving to everyone.”

The difference between being “in love” and being loving is that one of them is commanded. The term “falling in love” implies a loss of control. Emotions are powerful. The hormones heat up and the brain cells melt down. But being loving is about self-control.

Paul declares that we are “taught by God to love” each other (1 Thessalonians 4:9). So being loving is something that can be taught. While a fifteen- year-old boy might suddenly get a crush on a girl with no prompting, he probably has little idea of how to be selfless, compassionate or considerate. All of this is bound up in the idea of being loving.

“We love because he first loved us,” (1 John 4:19). We experienced God’s love, and based on our experience of being loved, we are loving. “Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Being loving is for the tough, the resolute. This is not about flowers and romance; this is about taking unloving people and treating them with the compassion and love that God showed us. This is about loving the mistake-prone, the sinful, and the loveless.

Being loving can be commanded because it is a way of behaving, and not a feeling. Jesus did not feel like dying on a cross for us, yet he did any way. He did not feel warm and wonderful about our sinful actions, yet he was loving to us. Marriages, friendships, fellowship of brethren, any relationship depends not on falling in love, but on being loving.

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