Can you love God by loving those around you?

I want to propose something that I have been thinking about today. It is sort of a new way of looking at things. One that I hope you will challenge, test and perhaps even adopt a little of into your own life.

Here it is.

I have been struggling for some time with finding the answer to how we as Christians show our love to God, or to put if more simply; in what ways do we act out our thankfulness for what He has done for us.

It is a simple question really, but as I open my eyes and peer for a moment into the lives of those around me I see vastly different examples being played out. There is no standard, or simple method that we all have, but rather it seems that for each an entirely different mindset is at work.

Some people are passionate about their personal devotion time, others are sold out for helping the poor, while others see their financial success and giving as a means for blessing God’s heart, and the list goes on.  All of these are solid Christians who love God and want their lives to be a pleasing offering to Him, but their ways of showing it could not be more different.

As I stand back and look at these different ways that we show our love for Him, I can see a bit of truth in every one.  There is validity in each path.

I want to offer up something I have been coming to understand in the past weeks.  Another way of thinking.

It started with an argument with my wife…  Well, I guess argument is not really the right way to put it, “blow-up” would be a better way to describe our conversation.

I know, I am supposed to pretend that our marriage is always perfect and that we never fight.  But I am sick of all the make-believe that we Christians feel we need to do, and so I am going to say it like it is here. Jessie and I (though I love her dearly), seem to have the same heated explosion about every 2-3 months.  We always come to terms at the end, but first it seems we always must spend some time stewing and arguing before we are able to find common ground.  That is just how it is for us, we need to work through things now and again or else walls grow up between us.

I don’t know what it is, but I seem to have this knack for sliding back into this really selfish attitude and forget that the other people in my life matter, and as you can imagine my selfishness always does wonders to create tension in our marriage that we need to work through.  I would venture to say that at least 80% of the disagreements are my fault. She is just naturally a far more loving person than I am.

So anyhow, this one particular time, the kids were all in bed and our conversation was starting to get nit picky.  Jessie was explaining to me how she feels that I have not been showing her love lately and how all I care about is myself. I am hearing her words but they are bouncing off of the wall that I have built around my heart and instead of softening to her and saying I am sorry, I am just getting angry.

“You never show love either, so….”

I say as I cross my arms and stare emotionlessly at designs of little birds in cages on the curtain on our window.

We continue like this for about an hour, each of us going through the complete list of all the transgressions that the other has committed in the past months and of course… getting nowhere.

Then for some reason right there in the middle of my sentence, my heart breaks.  I have no idea how to describe it, but it was like all of a sudden I was able to see what I was doing, my selfishness that was hidden from me came into perfect clarity.

I melted.

I realized, (and I am still not sure how) that if I want to truly love God, if I want to follow Him with my life that I need to do it by showing love to this wonderful woman that He gave to me, with everything that  I have.

And from there it all just clicked together with the other question that I have been asking.

How do we as Christians show our love to Him?

The answer was suddenly right in front of me; We show our love to Him by loving those around us and by putting them above ourselves.

Simple as that.

I am sure that many of you already get this, but for me, for some strange reason, this was like a ton of bricks was lifted from me.

I understood suddenly that I need to give all of me to Jessie, and to my kids, and to others in my life, that is how I will show God that I love Him, that is how I can return the infinite love that He has shown to me.

Want to do this with me?  Want to start loving God by putting those around us before ourselves?  I am pretty darn sure that we are going to find that this is what He has been asking of us all along.

And for that matter why stop there?  Let’s ask Him who else He wants us to love like there is no tomorrow.

Levi