I am an introvert. I dislike small talk and I hate facades. But put me in a small group of like-minded people willing to get deep and dirty, and I come alive. I thrive on the truth, no matter how uncomfortable or absurd. It heals me. It breaks down my prideful barriers and opens my eyes. That’s why I long to hit emotional pressure points in other people. I want to see what they truly love. I want to see what drives them. And most importantly, I want them to examine themselves and realize problems they never realized before. Instead of telling people what they want to hear, I usually tell them the exact opposite. After all, it is only when we are challenged that we really begin to know what we stand for, why we stand for it, and if what we are standing for is correct.
With all this in mind, I want to encourage you to love others. But not just in the way we usually think of. We generally want to love others with smiles, cards, and events; outward, unoffending, socially acceptable things. And that’s not wrong. But we must never forget to routinely practice the deeper side of loving our brothers and sisters in Christ.
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” – Romans 12:9-11
Loving others doesn’t just mean saying, “hi” or asking if they’re ok. It also means getting to the root of their problems, pointing them directly to Christ, rejoicing in their triumphs, sharing in their burdens, and rebuking them of sin. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. Hard times full of truth are vastly superior to good times full of vague, warm thoughts. Love is hard. It was never meant to be easy. But it’s worth it. Don’t shirk your responsibility as a follower of God to love your brothers genuinely, in mind and in deed.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2
God’s entire law is resolved in two commands. Love your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). What do we really want when we’re in pain? First, we want God. Whether we admit it or not, we all desire to fill that void in our life, and He is really the only ultimate healing we can have from grief. Second, we want a friend. We want someone—sometimes anyone—to be a shoulder to cry on, to come alongside us and hear us out. We want someone to help us work through the problems in our life and seek to tell us the truth, even if it hurts. We want someone to love us in a deeper way than just being polite or having pity on us. Therefore, if we see someone else struggling in this way, we are to love them as we would want to be loved. Intimately, truthfully, and passionately.
“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” – James 5:19-20
This cannot be overstated. You encounter hundreds of souls each day that are in danger of eternal fire. Even the funny kid at your vocal group is struggling with something. Even at your weekly Christian events, there are tons of people who secretly struggle with porn, depression, and thoughts of killing themselves to get away from this life. It’s not just “out there” in the big bad world. It’s here and now. I’ve seen it. It’s real, and it’s sucking the life out of the church. We can no longer sit idly by and watch ignorantly as our friends as well as enemies fall into the snare of the Devil. We must rise up and cease tolerating shallow love. We must seek to love those around us with all our might, and in the most true and honest way we can. I’ll admit, it’s very hard to do at times. But we must strive not only to love in small ways, but in deep, meaningful ways as well.
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” – James 5:13-16