written by Lanette Zavala, author of Marriage Vows Under Fire
Over the years, ministering to others through speaking and writing, I have learned how more easily words of wisdom can be imparted as opposed to being implemented. Ministering about love is no exception.
God’s Word shows us how to love in a number of passages beginning ultimately with Jesus’ death on the cross for the sins of the world. When we thoroughly examine Jesus’ sacrifice for us, who were deserving of God’s wrath reserved for sin, we could humbly realize our ongoing need to learn how to replicate God’s love toward others.
Why do I say we have an ongoing need to learn to show love? Because unexpected challenges occur constantly in our lives. When do we respond to challenges with affection, when do we respond with encouragement, when do we respond with a sharp rebuke, and when do we even respond with distance? All of these and others are responses which our Lord Jesus Christ gave as examples in each unique situation He faced. And while He gave these responses, He never gave them apart from love. Learning which expression of love applies in each situation and challenge in our lives is an ongoing learning process.
As a servant who ministers love in blogs, in books, and in person, there are a few points that I have learned and am continuing to learn about the love walk to which I am called:
There is an ever-impacting difference between whether any minister actually loves or only ministers about love.
If I love…
1. I minister love in word.
2. I demonstrate it in deed.
3. I show love in the face of favor and strive to show it (while I make a firm decision to maintain it) in the face of challenges against me.
4. I communicate about what I disapprove of – with either a light or firm approach, depending on each circumstance – and still genuinely promote peace toward that person I have to challenge, but without dropping my love for him/her.
5. I affirm and confirm the grace I have for others despite their faults (some faults being directed against me) because of the grace God always shows toward me despite my faults.
6. I actively, repentantly depend on Jesus to forgive and purify me when I fall short of my call to love.
If I only minster love…
1. I can’t stretch my limited supply of love to reach beyond the boundaries of my emotions, my mood, my human tolerance level, or any popularity I might gain as a “good preacher/teacher/singer” on love.
2. I can’t ensure that the love contained within my boundaries will last toward people who haven’t yet offended me to the extent that others, who stepped outside my love boundaries, have dared to offend me.
3. I can so gravely mistake flattery as being love – flattery toward me and flattery from me.
4. I can’t recognize the need for correction (even when it’s to be delivered boldly) as an expression of love from me or towards me.