5 Reasons to Work Harder on Becoming a Loving Person

Loving people in this world can be hard (see 5 Reasons Why It Is Hard to Love). We see things from our own perspective. Other people see things from theirs. This brings us into conflict with them. This inflicts wounds upon us. Why put in the work of becoming a loving person when it is often so hard to love?

There are plenty of reasons. The Christian faith offers us many motivations and reasons to work on becoming a loving person. In some ways, this is what the Christian faith is all about, helping us become loving people instead of selfish ones.

What are the reasons the Christian faith offers to work on it? The Apostle Paul wrote his famous “love” chapter in 1 Corinthians 13, but I think Romans 12 offers more insight into love, though it is less elegant. I want to look at the motivations that he offers there.

Reason #1: The love of God for us. When Paul tells us that we should love others, he begins with the love and mercy of God. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God . . .” (Romans 12:1). If we have trouble loving, we should not first try harder. We should take a plunge into the infinite ocean of the love of God.

When we consider how little thought we have given to God and how much He has blessed us, it will motivate us to love. If God loved us, we also ought to love one another. God sought us out when we were going astray and didn’t even want to come back. How, then, can we not imitate our heavenly Father and show love?

Reason # 2: We are made for each other. We are not made to exist alone. We are social beings. We are made to work together and live together. When we don’t, we are living contrary to our nature. “So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” (Romans 12:5).

Paul speaks here of the body of Christ, but the same is true of humans in general. This is recognized more broadly in the Bible, but others have used the same metaphor. The Roman Emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius said, “For we are made for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away” (Meditations, 2.1). We are made to love. To not love is to act against what we were created to be.

Reason #3: Being a jerk is terrible. This goes back to Romans 1: “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy” (29—31). Living this way is terrible. So, why would we let the world drag us down to this level? If someone wants to be a jerk, they harm themselves. We should not let them harm us by turning us into jerks. We should learn to love, which is excellent and beautiful.

Reason #4: The judgment of God. Christianity does not say that revenge is wrong. It just says that we are not competent or authorized to carry it out. We leave it to God. When we let go of wrongs and learn to love, even when it’s hard, we are not saying that wrong is not wrong. We are saying that we trust God to sort everything out and deal with other people. “Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Romans 12:19). We can release ourselves to love because we can be confident that God will deal with everything in a satisfying way.

Reason #5: It is effective. Love conquers. That’s why the Apostle Paul said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21). When we can respond with love when others don’t, it can shine a light that dispels the darkness. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a great example. He sought to bring whites and blacks together, but he also said that the injustice of the white community was wrong. He used non-violence to protest while not turning away from a relationship with them. The result was a radical transformation of our society. That’s what bold love can do (to use the words of Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III, whose book I highly recommend).

These are the central reasons in the book of Romans for working harder on becoming loving people. I hope that you feel encouraged to work on developing one of the most excellent virtues that you can have. You’re not in it alone, God stands behind you becoming a loving person! He’s for it. He is all in. That’s why He gives us so many reasons to pursue it.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. I hope it was a blessing. If you liked it, please share or subscribe below. I hope to see you here again soon!


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Leading from Vision Rather Than Reaction

Leadership by Reaction
And now, Geometry. That was the new subject in my friend’s sixth grade class. His teacher, Mrs. Smith, walked slowly through the class. She stopped behind my friend and asked a geometry question, “What do you call two points on a line?”

Like myself and many of you, he responded, “I don’t know.”

Whack!!! Mrs. Smith took the paddle that she carried around with her and whacked him in the head with it.

Now did he know? Of course not. All he knew at that point was that he did not like Geometry or Mrs. Smith.

Mrs. Smith’s method of leadership is ludicrous, but that’s often how we try to lead. People aren’t doing what we want them to and then, whack! We respond in a way that demands people change immediately. We react by by attacking, withdrawing, or complaining. It is leadership by reaction.

When we lead by reaction, our leadership helps people move forward with about as much efficacy as Mrs. Smith’s whack on the back of the head moved my friend to new knowledge. It’s good to want people to be in a better place, but leadership by reaction is often not based on thought or reality.

Everybody has people or communities that they want to see in a better place. The trouble is that so often we pursue it by simply reacting.

Is there a better way? Absolutely there is.

The Alternative: Leadership from Vision
It’s called leadership from vision. It begins with a vision of where people could and should be. This type of leader then chooses the path that will be the best route to help people get where they need to be. Then, the leader helps people walk that path through teaching, examples, steps, and encouragement.

Take the story of Mike Lanza. Lanza remembered kids playing outside together when he was young, and he thought this was a better place for kids to be than what he saw around him. Like many of us, he was concerned about the amount of time kids spent in front of screens. Continue reading “Leading from Vision Rather Than Reaction”

9 Powerful Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Our nation was formed with the idea that all people were created equal. However, from its inception, there was a glaring contradiction to that principle in the enslavement of African-Americans. We fought a war to bring an end to this contradiction, but even after the war, justice and equality were denied to African-Americans throughout the nation and particularly in the South. For prosperous Americans, it was too easy to ignore this injustice. Thanks be to God that He raised up Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and many others to compel this nation to pay attention to this injustice and seek to right it. Here are 9 quotes from Dr. King that powerfully describe the conditions African-Americans faced, the method he would use to confront those conditions, and the vision of new conditions that he wanted to bring about.

All of these quotes are taken from The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. compiled and edited by Clayborne Carson. I highly recommend it.

The Problem

1. “My mother confronted the age-old problem of the Negro parent in America: how to explain discrimination and segregation to a small child. She taught me that I should feel a sense of ‘somebodiness’ but that on the other hand I had to go out and face a system that stared me in the face every day saying you are ‘less than,’ you are ‘not equal to'” (3).

2. “A man who lived under the torment of knowledge of the rape of his grandmother and murder of his father under the conditions of the present social order, does not readily accept that social order or seek to integrate into it” (268).

3. “The throbbing pain of segregation could be felt but not seen. It scarred Negroes in every experience of their lives. . . . This Freedom Ride movement came into being to reveal the indiginities and the injustices which Negro people faced as they attempted to do the simple thing of traveling through the South as interstate passengers” (153).

The Method

4. “The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But the way of nonviolence leads to redemption and the creation of the beloved community” (134). Continue reading “9 Powerful Quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

White Evangelicals & Race

Christian rapper LeCrae. LeCrae decided that he was going to distance himself from white evangelicalism. This saddened me. I’m not judging what LeCrae has done. I know that he is far from the only person who feels this way. This reminds me of the sad reality that white evangelicals and evangelicals of color in the United States are not as close as they could and should be.

That said, I do understand it. I can understand particularly why African-American evangelicals would feel like they don’t belong in white evangelicalism.

This has led me to think about my behavior as a white evangelical. Do I do things that make white evangelicalism unwelcome for my brothers and sisters of color?

But this issue seems so big. What can I do? Especially, what can I do concretely? I came up with a few ideas. Here are a few things that I think I should do in regard to the race issue. I’d be interested in hearing what your thoughts are on this issue and what white evangelicals should do.

  1. Listen. James 1:19 says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” For example, when my brothers and sisters speak about racial injustice, I want my first reaction to be to listen rather than to speak or react emotionally.
  2. Be honest about the history of the relationship of African-Americans and Whites in this country. A lot of it is very bad. I want to try to understand how this has worked out in my own area, family, and church and be honest and open about it.
  3. Continue reading “White Evangelicals & Race”