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The Difference Between Feeling Love and Showing Love

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“Love cannot remain by itself-it has no meaning. Love has to be put into action and that action is service.”
-Mother Teresa

From the time that we are born, we show others our love for them. Even before you were old enough to form cohesive memories, you showed affection to people around you. It may not have been much, but something as simple as holding the finger of a parent or touching a loved one’s face while they held you in your infant state was a show of affection. Even more remarkably, there are scientific studies that indicate that babies need physical displays of affection in order to thrive.

All of that information points to the fact that from the time we are born, we have an innate need to both display love and receive displays of love. Mother Teresa, arguably the most loving human being that has walked this earth since Christ, said that love has no meaning if there are not actions behind it. As Christians, God has an expectation of us to not simply talk of our love for Him and our love for others, but to put that love into action.

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Understanding how to better put love into action is a key component in fully discovering how you can better live out God’s purpose for your life.

The Source of Displays of Love
Romans 5:8 (AMP)

But God clearly shows and proves His own love for us, by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Thousands of years before you were ever born, God performed the first loving action. What’s even more remarkable is the fact that thousands of years before you were born, God showed you His love. How? By giving the very best that He had so you would know that He passionately, relentlessly, and unconditionally loves you.

Perhaps the most quoted verse in Scripture echoes that sentiment:

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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.

God laid the framework for putting love into action. When God the Father made the decision to offer Jesus, the Son as the sacrifice for all of humanity’s sin, love went into action. God gave a perfect example of what it looks like to take love from an idea to an action. Because of His display of love, we understand that we need to display our love. Simply saying that you love God isn’t enough. His Holy Spirit prompts us to Godly actions that display our love for Him. Additionally, telling other people that you love them is easy. It takes work to actually put that love into action and show them that you love them.

Thankfully, we have the perfect example of what love in action looks like. No, it doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice your children. Instead, God’s display of love speaks to the fact that love should be sacrificial in nature. It doesn’t focus on what’s convenient for the giver. Instead, love in action, or sacrificial love focuses on what is best for the recipient.

How We Show Our Love for God
Joshua 22:5 (ESV)

Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

One of the primary ways that we put our love for God into action is to follow His Word. While the Bible is not a rigorous list of dos and don’ts, it is a written copy of what God expects from His people. However, when we submit our lives to Him, we want to live out those desires. Following God’s Word doesn’t make Him love you anymore. Additionally, disobeying God’s Word doesn’t make Him love you any less. There’s nothing we can do to alter God’s love for us (Romans 8:35-39). Instead, we want to follow His will because of our love for Him.

We display our love for God when we join with other believers in worship. We show our love for God when we spend time reading His Word and seeking Him in prayer. We show God how much we love Him through the way that we treat others! There are plenty of ways that we can show God that we love Him.

When you were a child, you showed your love for your parents or the person/people who raised you. Whether it was a card on Father’s Day or Mother’s Day or the acknowledgement of a birthday, you took part in seemingly small actions that showed your love for those people. In the same vein, we display actions that indicate our love to God and for God.

Finally, we show our love for God by the way that we treat others! Let’s take a look at the best ways to handle that.

How We Show our Love for Others
Mark 12:31 (ESV)

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

The way that we treat others is a direct reflection of our love for God. Jesus, when recapping the most important commandments focused on the fact that we should love God with everything we have and that we should love others as much as we love ourselves. On the surface, that seems nearly impossible, doesn’t it? Afterall, we’re all taught to care for ourselves. Some people refer to it as “looking out for number one.” The Bible never says that we should not care for ourselves. God wants us to take care of ourselves. However, He expects us to love other people the same way that we love ourselves.

What does that look like? Scripture answers that question, too!

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (ESV)
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast, it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

Paul provides a perfect outline of what love for other people looks like. At its core, love for other people means that you commit to showing them love, even when you feel like you shouldn’t. This can be something as simple as talking to a friend who is going through a hard time after you’ve had a long day at work and you’re tired. It can be something as seemingly minor as buying someone a cup of coffee, even when money is a little tight. It means standing by someone’s side, even when they’ve made a bad decision, and showing them the grace of God.

If you want to know if you’re showing your love for others, see if you can replace the word “love” in the five verses mentioned above with your name. Are you patient and kind? Do you envy and boast? Are you arrogant and rude? If the answer to any of those questions is “yes,” ask the Holy Spirit to help you make the necessary changes in your life.

The remarkable part about showing love for others is that it is the most powerful way to show your love for God is to show His love to others. That’s His design. God gave us the example of how to put love into action. Now it’s up to us to follow His lead.

A Closing Prayer:
God, thank You for showing Your divine love to me. Thank You for the sacrifice that You made. Help me to not only love You more, but to show Your love for others around me more effectively. In Christ’s name I pray, Amen.

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