LEARNING TO LOVE

Jesus washing feet

The Apostle Paul writes something in 1 Thessalonians 4:9 that I find intriguing: “Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.”

That gets me wondering: In what ways were they taught by God to love each other?

As I thought about that question a bit of prose by Dorothy Law Nolte came to mind:

If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.

If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.

If children live with fear, they learn to be apprehensive.

If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.

If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel shy. 

If children live with jealousy, they learn to feel envy.

If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty.

If children live with encouragement, they learn confidence.

If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.

If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.

If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.

If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.

If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.

If children live with sharing, they learn generosity.

If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.

If children live with fairness, they learn justice.

If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.

If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.

If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.

That got me wondering a bit further: If Dorothy Law Nolte is correct in these observations, what might the Thessalonians have learned from God?  What might we learn from God? 

If people experience the love of the Savior who left the riches of heaven to share with us the struggles of earth, we learn to come alongside one another even when others face difficult times.

If people experience the compassion of the Savior who touched the leper, protected a woman caught in adultery, and invited a tax-collector to share a meal with him, we learn to let our hearts feel with others their loneliness and shame and rejection.

If people discover that Jesus had no prejudice against anyone but reached out graciously to all, we learn to set aside our own prejudices in reaching out to one another.

If people experience the forgiveness of our Savior, we learn to forgive one another.

If people discover that our Savior gave His very life for us, we learn to sacrifice our safety and comforts to care for others.

If people receive the Holy Spirit from the God who chooses to put some of Himself in us, we learn that we are immensely valuable in the heart of God, and we learn to see the incredible value in others. 

Perhaps these are some of the ways the Thessalonians learned from God to love each other.  I hope these are some of the ways we can learn from God to love each other.

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