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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The Messages We Tell Ourselves

Behind our emotions are stories. We tell ourselves messages that shape our hearts and minds and actions.

These messages may drive us forward, messages like “you have skill,” “you can learn,” “you will be alright,” “people like you,” “God will take care of you,” and so on.

Other messages keep us from moving forward: “you are not valuable,” “you are incompetent,” “you will lose everything,” “people will not like you,” “you will be alone,” “you won’t have resources,” and so on.

It’s not always easy to know what these messages are. They are often buried so deep that they are not readily available to our consciousness.

Here’s one example from my own life.

My wife is a homemaker, and, throughout our married life, I have often been frustrated with the state of the house. It has taken me a long time to understand the message I am telling myself: I can’t be OK if the house is in disorder. This, of course, is not true, but it’s what I’ve told myself over and over.

Thinking a bit more about this message, I started to wonder where that message came from. My personality is inclined to want an orderly environment, but I dug deeper. I realized my Mother was a very orderly person. I regard this as a real virtue. She kept the house in virtually perfect order. I grew up expecting that this was how the house would be. Without my effort, the house was just always magically in order!

Then, I started thinking about my wife. She is much more tolerant of chaos and disorder than my Mother was. She can function very well with things being disorganized and stuff being everywhere. I actually regard this as a real virtue as well, one I need to grow in!

There is another difference between my Mom and my wife. My Mom had two children. My wife has seven! It’s just not going to work out the same way, no matter how much we may want it to.

The seven children show a great variety in their toleration for cleanliness and order. I have one daughter who is able to function in conditions that would drive my crazy. Below is a picture of the work conditions in which she made clothes for her dolls. I really admire her ability to adapt to almost any condition!

All these reflections have helped me change my attitude about the house. Instead of frustration, I can even feel admiration for how my wife holds things together and is able to do so well in the midst of so many distractions in our house.

How was I able to get there? I had to take time to really think through the message that I was telling myself. I had to peel back the layers and see something of what was going on in my mind and heart.

I think the first step in the transformation of our character and mentality is beginning to ask, what is the message I am telling myself? Then, we can evaluate its truth and value.

The messages we tell ourselves shape our lives, but we they don’t have to be. We can discover what these messages are and choose to tell different ones. In my view, this is one key to learning to live a different and better type of life.