by Laurel Robinson
February is famous for Valentine’s Day, a holiday known for chocolate and commercialism, red roses and romance--and sometimes, disappointment when we don’t receive love from others in the form that we were hoping for. Let’s look at how we can love well:
To give love, you must first receive love. How can we love others with a genuine love that is not hypocritical or self-serving? We must first experience the love of the Father. “Preaching the Gospel to yourself” contains some essential points, such as sin, repentance, our need for a Savior -- and an essential element: the love of Christ for us. When we are able to comprehend the Love that God has for us, and the grace He shows for our flaws, it is easier to forgive others and overlook things that might keep us from loving them well. If there is something that is keeping you from receiving His love, pray over it. If His love still feels far away, consider talking to a mentor or counselor about it.
Loving yourself is important. Women are nurturers by design. Many women have a tendency to care for their family members or work obligations at the expense of their own needs, which ultimately affects their health. Just as the flight attendants tell you to “put your own oxygen mask on before assisting someone else,” we do need to make sure that we are caring for our health (rest, prayer time, hydration, etc.) even as we seek to protect and serve the dear people in our lives.
Take a moment to think of two or three ways you could be caring for yourself better. There is no guilt in being a good steward of the body, mind, and soul that the Lord gave you. Jesus himself took time away to pray. He ate and drank and slept. He knows what is it like to be in our condition and to endure our temptations, since He walked in the flesh. He also denied Himself and fasted--so, don’t just follow the “pamper yourself” advice of magazines and talk shows; seek what the Spirit is calling you to do in order to have balance in your life. Perhaps you need a “detox” from something that is dragging you down (Social media? Comparing your life to others’? Gossip?). Perhaps you will be called to stretch yourself in a new direction of ministry. Let the Lord lead you as you think about the gifts He has given you and set goals.
Sacrificial Love. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13) After Jesus said this, He went on do just that: He laid down His life to redeem His people. Sacrificial love is the most powerful form of love. If the Lord presents you with an opportunity to practice it, do not be afraid!
This February, let us live honestly before the Lord, bask in His love, and love well.