How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love with a passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, — I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. Elizabeth Barrett Browning
We all need to love and be loved. It is a need instilled in us by God.
- 1 John 4:7Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God
- John 13:34 “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other”.
If you have been alive and talking for more than a decade or two, you can tell more about what someone says by the tone and body language they use than by the words themselves. Telling someone that you love them while gazing into their eyes and holding their hands evokes more warm fuzzy’s than when you shout it at them in the midst of conflict.
We also know that actions speak louder than words. This is especially true in the arena of love. Saying I love you and coupling that with a nicely prepared meal or a box of chocolates on Valentine’s Day is really nice, but how about on the day after that or March 18th, June 5th or October 12th? Really loving someone is to constantly be looking for things we can do every day (not just on special occasions) to show them we value them, we appreciate them, and we don’t want to live without them. Living unselfishly is one of the greatest ways we can demonstrate love on a continual basis.
- 1 Corinthians 13:4–8a “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails”. (NIV)
- 1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth”.
Do we put our jobs above our families? Our hobbies?
- Matthew 6:24-25 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing”?
Do we like to spend time with our kids, our spouse? Do they know this? If you are constantly looking for ways to spend time with your family, I can assure you that they know you enjoy being with them. If you are constantly gone from home because your hobbies are more important to you than sitting around the supper table with your family…..I can assure you they don’t feel as important as they should. This is an area where the actions are shouting and the words are being drowned out. You may think that being with your family one or two nights a week is enough or taking them on a big outing once a month is enough, but it is not. If this is you, your priorities should be re-evaluated.
- Luke 12:34 “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.
- Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me”.
Does your spouse carry all the responsibility of the household? Do they have to do all the cooking, cleaning, maintenance, bill paying and caring for the daily details of raising children? If so, this is not demonstrating love on your part. It is taking advantage of a loving spouse and is not Biblical. This could be said for husbands or wives.
- Ephesians 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
- 1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers”.
Are you a single parent, working to pay the bills? What you do after work tells a pretty accurate story. When you have free time, are you excited to be with your kids or do you prefer letting off steam with your friends? If you are working hard to take care of your kids, you may think that is enough, but it is not. They need emotional bonding time to feel the love and see it in action. They need story time, and play time and cooking dinner together time. These times of togetherness will show them that you want to enjoy life together with them to the fullest.
“The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread. “~Mother Teresa
When you are separated from your spouse or kids for more than a day, do you make the time to call them or text them to let them know you are thinking about them? Do you make them a priority and give them value? Doing this will cement in their minds that you miss them when you are not there and that you want them to feel loved and cared for. They need to know you are there for them even when you are apart from each other. (We may not be able to physically be there for them but we need to be emotionally available to them).
- Genesis 31:49 “May the LORD watch between you and me when we are absent one from the other”.
- Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Have you ever noticed your child or spouse being sad? Have you noticed how much you can cheer them up by just noticing how they feel and telling them that. Expressing a desire to help alleviate their sadness can often make them smile before the conversation is over. This doesn’t mean you need to or are responsible for fixing them, just simply showing support can go far to remind them they are not facing their situation alone. Offer to pray with them and for them. By bringing Jesus into the conversation, we can help them lay the burden down and find rest and peace.
- Galatians 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
- 1 Peter 5:7 “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you”. (NLT)
- John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid”.
How do we treat those around us that are not our favorites? Those we may not even like? Do we treat them how they deserve to be treated? Do we let God’s love flow through us and splash on them, or do we selfishly hold onto his love and keep it for only those we deem worthy?
- Luke 6:35 “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked”.
- Matthew 5:44 “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.
Love is much more than just saying “I love you”. It is living our lives conscious of those around us and demonstrating true love daily by our speech, by our attitudes, and by our actions. How do you say “I love you”?