Notice, that Paul tells us to “put on” love. It is something we are required to DO. We can become more loving. In order for that to happen we must understand what love means practically.
It means defining love as God defines it. If we want to be loving we must study what God says love is. We must compare ourselves, not to others . . . but to the standard of love that God gives us. In other words we must ask, “Am I patient, kind, and without envy in my relationships? Am I seeking to help those who have a need? Am I desiring the best for those that God has brought into my life? Am I seeking to build up others or only to build up myself through others?
It means to accept people where they are. If we are going to love people, we cannot require them to meet certain prerequisites before we love them. Nobody thinks, understands, and believes exactly as we do. That’s life. This is a fact we must accept before we will ever be able to love other people. Love starts where the other person is not where we would like them to be.
We see this trait in Jesus. He met the fishermen, the tax-collector, the adulterer, the military leader, the worried women, where they were. He longed to cleanse them and make them holy, but he started this process at the point at which he found each individual. He spoke their language and started with what they could understand. He worked to meet their unique needs.
Love does not demand that everyone be like us. It doesn’t demand that people have the same experience, the same tastes, the same background. True love embraces people as they are.
It means overlooking small irritations. Everyone of us has blemishes. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t do something stupid, inappropriate, or foolish. There is not a day when we don’t say something we shouldn’t have or react when we should have shrugged something off. If we are going to fight about every little irritation in life then we are going to be fighting all the time.
Let me give you an illustration. You walk up to the check-out person at Wal-Mart and they respond to you in somewhat of a gruff manner. At this point you have a choice: shall I respond “in kind” or shall I extend love? To respond in kind would be to say, “I don’t know why you are being so huffy. Isn’t it your job to ‘serve me’?” Or something equally as loving like, “Well you’re a friendly one, aren’t you?” Loving is responding to these irritations with understanding and love, “rough day?”
Or maybe more to the point. We’re sitting in church and someone walks by us and doesn’t acknowledge us! We can be offended at how arrogant and snooty they are or we can shrug it off and assume that they didn’t see us, or were thinking about something else. Someone doesn’t ask us to help or participate in something. We can get made and feel we have been deliberately excluded or we can conclude that they are not aware of our interest in helping or being involved.
We’ve talked about this before. If we spend our lives looking for offenses we will find them. Loving people resolve to see the irritations in life as bumps in the road heading to spiritual maturity.
Source: LOVE MUST BE DEVELOPED