Learning to Love Like Jesus

5 Mins read

Ephesians 5:1-2 (MSG)
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does Is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.

This commandment from Paul to the church at Ephesus seems impossible on the surface. “Watch what God does, and then you do it.” How are we supposed to pull that off?! God, the Creator of the universe, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords sets a pretty high standard for any of us to follow. Yet, Paul says that we should follow God’s example like children learn proper behavior their parents.

But take a look at what Paul says the most important part of mimicking God is. “Mostly, what God does is love you.” When we’re trying to look at what God does and then replicate it ourselves, it’s mostly about loving. Loving people was at the heart of everything that Jesus did during his earthly ministry. Even in the moments where He was correcting His disciples and restoring purity to the temple, He was motivated by His love for humanity.

When we’re trying to love a more Christlike life, it’s about loving people. The best way to point people to the same grace that saved our soul is to love them. We don’t love people in order to get something from them, but to give of ourselves to them. But how do we love like that?

Loving Unconditionally

Romans 8:37-39 (TPT)
Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything! So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels or dark rules in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us-no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!

As humans, doing anything unconditionally is hard. We’re naturally wired to put conditions on things that we do and feel. The old saying says, “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mind.” While that’s our natural instinct, that’s not Godly love.

Paul’s letter to the Roman church included this powerful promise that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love for us. That includes our sins, shortcomings and mistakes. Think about that for a minute. There is nothing in this world that you can do that will make God love you any less than He does right now. What’s even more powerful is the fact that there is nothing you can do to make God love you any more than He does right now! His love is unconditional and ours is supposed to be too.

That doesn’t mean that we continue to let people mistreat us. There’s nothing with setting boundaries and no longer giving people access to your life. But we are called to love them, wish them the best and pray for them.

Loving Sacrificially

John 3:16 (TPT)
For this is how much God loved the world-he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life.

When God created that plan for salvation, He already knew how things would have to go. Jesus, His Only Son, would be born to a virgin and would be crucified for the sins of the world. What would make someone give their only son as a sin sacrifice for all of humanity? Love. God’s love is a sacrificial love.

How do we love sacrificially? Sacrificial love means that we put the needs of others ahead of ourselves. It means forfeiting our own convenience for the good of those around us. To better understand sacrificial love, consider a practical example.

Is there someone in your life who is alone? Perhaps a widow or widower who lives nearby? Undoubtedly, you already have a busy schedule. Depending on your responsibilities, you may be a spouse, parent, caregiver, employee, employer and carry any other number of titles. If you’re like most of us, free time is a minimum.

However, sacrificial love would mean taking an hour or two out of your week to do something for that lonely person who lives near you. Maybe you fix an extra plate at dinner and invite them over or take the meal to them. Time is one of the most precious commodities that we have and sacrificing it can be challenging. However, God’s love is sacrificial, and ours is supposed to be sacrificial as well.

Loving Gracefully

Proverbs 17:9 (TPT)
Love overlooks the mistakes of others but dwelling on the failures of others devastates friendships.

When we are mistreated by someone around us, we’re faced with a choice. We can harbor ill will and allow those bad feelings to prosper, or we can forgive and go on. Even if the person doesn’t apologize, you have the power to forgive the wrongs that others have done to you.

Again, love and forgiveness doesn’t mean that we become a doormat for mistreatment. Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that everything goes back to the way it was. If someone breaks your trust, there is no Bible verse that mandates that we go back to including them on the deepest parts of our lives. However, loving God’s way includes extending forgiveness when possible.

On the night Jesus was arrested, Peter (who was one of the closest of the disciples to Jesus) had pledged to stand with him until the end, even offering to die with Him (Matthew 26:35). However, when confronted with accusations that he was one of the disciples, Peter denied even knowing who Jesus was. In fact, Peter denied Jesus three times in one night!

However, Jesus wasn’t done with Peter. After the resurrection, Jesus took special care to get back in touch with Peter. In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Did Jesus ask Peter three times to give him a chance to make up for each denial? Possibly. We don’t really know. However, the point is that Jesus loved Peter so much that He offered him grace.

Loving with grace is hard. We tend to hold grudges out of self-defense when we’ve been hurt. However, love overlooks the mistakes of others. Offering forgiveness is one of the best ways to love God’s way.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gently and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

If you can put your name in every part of that Scripture that says “love,” you’re probably doing better than most of us. However, if you can’t, you know what areas you need to work on in order to start loving like Jesus. Carefully read those verses, say your name everywhere that the Scripture says “love” and examine yourself to see if its true. If it’s not, allow the Holy Spirit to work with you on correcting those areas.

A Closing Prayer:
God, help me to love the way that you love. Allow the Holy Spirit to point out the areas in my life that need work so I can love others the way that You love me. In Christ’s name, Amen.

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