I heard the sound of cars in my driveway and dreaded this moment. I didn’t want anyone else taking care of me. I didn’t want to be a burden. But, after a terrible car accident, my friends were coming over to help me shower.
They washed the glass, blood, and vomit from my hair, and I was embarrassed…at first. But as the morning progressed, being clean felt so good. And as a bonus, they stocked the fridge with meals and ensured I had everything I needed since I couldn’t get out of bed.
This is what love in action looks like. Love in action began thousands of years ago when Jesus came to his earth to be our Savior fully God and fully human. He knew we were destined for eternity yet were separated from God.
He knew we were destined to fall to the curse of death and sin. So, God came to us in the form of a vulnerable baby boy. Then, as he grew and stepped into his mission, he loved us enough to sacrifice himself for us.
Fast forward two thousand years later, we live in a world of Door Dash and ordering groceries online. We have our own homes, careers, families, cars, and so on.
We were raised with the idea of pulling up our bootstraps and putting our hair in a ponytail in order to hustle, to get things done, independently.
So, when a friend has a miscarriage, or your neighbor next door can’t shovel the snow off his driveway, or another friend has a death in the family, what do you do? Do you wish them well and send them a sympathy card? But what would Jesus do? As the old adage goes.
How Did Jesus Show Love in Action?
In the NIV, the word “love” appears 574 times. When looking at all the ways God calls us to grow in our faith, love in action is right up there with knowing, believing, and following. Jesus talked about love as an action and gave us a compass.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Notice that God doesn’t just say, “I love you.” He demonstrated his love by sending Jesus to die for us while we were still at our worse. In doing so, we get a vivid picture of true love.
Based on these two passages God has given us the instructions of what love in action looks like. The Apostle John reminds us of this fact elsewhere: “He has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister” (1 John 4:21).
In giving this command, Jesus did something the world had never seen before — he created a group identified by one thing: Love in action.
For the first time in history, he created a group of people who are bonded by love in action. Skin color didn’t matter. Political views didn’t matter. What mattered was how we loved those around us.
Why Jesus Wants Us to Love
Before Jesus left the earth, he showed love to tax collectors, prostitutes, diseased people, poor people, women, outcasts, and children.
He defied the culture, the customs, and society in order to make the least of us loved. And because we are loved by him, we are called to love like him. Based on Jesus’ life and examples:
- God calls us to love others, just as he loves us.
- We show love to others by forgiving, accepting, and honoring them.
- We can only love others when we are full of God’s love.
In fact, the Early Church demonstrated these points when people in Jerusalem began to be known for their actions (Acts 2:9–11).
Those who were saved immediately began meeting each other’s needs: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (Acts 2:44–45).
This was love in action and it made quite the impression during those times.
How to Be Love in Action
Jesus not only called us to love one another, but he took it one step further:
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:43-48).
So, how are we able to love like God? It is through our relationship with him. Apart from this, we are not capable of loving in action like Christ!
It is written: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 1:4).
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus (1 John 4:16-17).
So, how do we do this? We love even if it’s inconvenient. We love when we see a need. We love when God gives us a nudge.
5 Ways to Be Love in Action
1. Love the person in front of you. Whether you’re in line for coffee, groceries, getting gas, if you see a need and have the means, help out.
It could be as simple as telling the mom with a screaming toddler, she is doing a fabulous job.
2. Take food to your neighbors. A plate of cookies, a loaf of fresh-baked bread or fresh garden produce.
Simply drop it by and have a little conversation without inviting them to church, yet. Inviting someone to meet Christ takes time!
3. Babysit. Watch the children of single mothers so they can go shopping alone. Or for families whose mom or dad is deployed.
4. Volunteer. It can be at your church or local gym. Volunteer wherever there is a need, and it is what you sense God leading you to do.
5. Meet the need. There are so many needs happening around you, it only takes you and me to become more aware.
Whether it’s volunteering at church, at the local shelter, or meeting the needs in your neighborhood. It could be as simple as washing someone’s hair or dropping off a meal.
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Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/eggeeggjiew
Heather Riggleman is an award-winning journalist and a regular contributor for Crosswalk. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 22 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and a contributor to several books. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.