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Published / updated: 04 August 2006 | Author: Dele Oke

How to love people

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12:9-10 NIV

Many of us are familiar with the Bible?s numerous exhortations to love. But how do we go about doing this. Especially when there are so many people around that are ?hard to love?

1. Love means giving

God so loved the world that HE GAVE ? John 3:16.
Most people know in their hearts what it means to love. Love is the godly urge we receive to give. Giving often involves sacrifice. Our time, our money and our comfort are all required when we love. God demonstrated this when He gave us His son out of His love for us. But this still does not answer the question of how we do it.

2. A spiritual act ? making a choice

What is the greatest spiritual activity you have ever engaged in?
Some would say praying, others reading or meditating on the Word of God while others might say preaching or giving to the poor.
The truth is it is none of these.
The greatest spiritual act you can ever engage in is that of making a choice.
When you made a choice to believe in God and accept Him as your Lord and saviour your life took a new course. If you then made another choice to recede the earlier one you would be heading on the way to hell.

However, if you failed to pray in the morning before dashing out to work, you could be putting yourself into some danger of missing the voice of God but your relationship and fellowship with God would not be annulled (cancelled).

The choices we make determine the depth of our walk with the Lord. Choices are the umbrella under which our spiritual journey is given the path to run.
When you make a choice to forgive, you make available to yourself the grace of heaven to fulfil your godly choice. It is exactly the same as when you made a decision to accept Jesus as your Lord and saviour. That choice made available to you the power of heaven to become a child of God. There was nothing satan could do about it.

Our choices are spiritual acts that can bring liberty or bondage.
We love by making a choice to do so and thereby receive the grace of God to love. Simply acknowledging that you need to love will not get you there. You need to make a choice.

3. Don?t forget

Moses in advising the Israelites said

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. Deuteronomy 4:9

Moses knew the folly of forgetting. He himself paid a high price for it when he forgot to speak to the rock instead of hitting it. For this act God told him that he would not enter the Promised Land. Read the whole of Deuteronomy 4 for the whole story.

The things you forget can affect your spiritual walk. Is there anything God has told you to do that you have forgotten? It can affect you drastically. Forgetfulness can become a sin, especially when you forget the weighty laws and leading of God.

Often it is a failure to make a determined decision or choice to obey what God tells us that causes us to forget them. This is why we forget to write them down or take a proper record of them.

God told someone to take charge of his anger. He gave the person clear instructions on how to do it. The person forgot. Later the anger got the person into trouble. This trouble caused a quarrel. The person found it hard to love the person he was quarrelling with.

If we do not love God enough to remember what he tells us we will find it even harder to love our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, talk less of the none Christian who we are also called to love.

4. Differentiate between weakness and wickedness

It is hard to love wicked people but much easier to forgive weak people.
God deals with weakness and wickedness differently and so should we. Peter was a weak person when he denied the Lord Jesus three times. He even swore that he did not know him. Jesus did not cast Peter away because of his weakness. We pay the consequences of our weakness but God still longs to restore us.

Weakness is a heart too afraid and immature to grasp the will of God. We see weakness in Abram, when he went down to Egypt and lied about Sarai being his wife (Genesis 12:10-20)

On the other hand Judas was a wicked person. He plotted the destruction of Jesus with a heart that rejected the clear will of God. Wickedness is a heart bent on denying the will of God. We see wickedness again in Jezebel (1King16 - 1 king 22, 2 Kings 9 - 10 & Rev 2:20) who planned the destruction of God?s prophet while trying to establish her own idol worship.

Forgive those who are weak but flee from those who are wicked. Understanding the difference between the two will help you to walk in love.

Most of us rarely come in contact with wicked people. There are quite a few of them around mind you.

However, most of the time it is the acts of weak people that offend us most.

When weak people refuse to see the error of their ways and embrace their faults with pride and unrepentance they can become wicked like Pharoah of Egypt.

Never allow the weaknesses of other people to affect your own emotional life.
Never take on their bad habits nor repent of doing good works because of their bad deeds.

Most importantly, do not lose your ability to forgive because of their weakness.

Become more like Christ, not them.