The Real Definition of Love

“You know, we can love someone without approving of their actions or behavior. We don’t even have to like them. But we do have to love them…”

(Kathi Macias from The Singing Quilt)

The more I study Christ’s life while He walked the Earth, the more I realize everything He did was punctuated with love. Even when He was revealing sin in people’s lives, He did it in such a way as to draw them closer to Him, not push them further away. He didn’t alienate people, He didn’t ostracize people, and He certainly never snubbed anyone. He lived, breathed, and was the very essence of love.

When I was younger, I had a hard time grasping this concept. I grew up in conservative churches and saw life very black and white. Gray didn’t factor into my world. Before you wonder if I had a problem judging others, I judged myself one hundred times harsher. I couldn’t allow myself to make a mistake and was too busy trying to fix those I did make to worry much about fixing others. However, when people were living lives contrary to the Bible, as much as I loved them, I had a hard time communicating my acceptance of them without embracing their behavior. As a result, I made a lot of mistakes and then resorted to avoidance. I remember having multiple conversations with friends who were gifted in this area, but the few times I tried came off looking pathetic. I never knew after the interaction if the person felt like I agreed with their sinful lifestyle or if they understood where my line was drawn – loving them, not their actions.



I asked myself why were Christ’s encounters with others focused on loving them? Because the main reason He came to Earth was to point everyone in the direction of His Father and eternal life in Heaven. Until that question has been answered, the rest of the stuff doesn’t really matter. I don’t know anyone who has made a commitment to accepting Jesus into their heart through anger, threats of punishment, or bribery.

Within the last two years, I’ve started to really discover the characteristics of the God I serve. Reading about Christ’s life on Earth in the Bible, we are blessed with multiple examples of how He communicated with those He interacted with. I soon realized that as much as I admired my friend and how she communicated with those around her, I wanted to model Christ and how He emulated love with all those He encountered. I believe that through getting to know Him, I am able to begin doing just that.

While I still make mistakes, my goal in my encounters with others is to show God’s love…always. The best part? The more I discover about Christ and the more I desire to live a life modeled after His, I find that I really do love more. It’s not fake, put on, or forced. I truly see the person behind the attitude and behavior. I find that most everyone responds to love…eventually. When it’s given genuinely, without hidden motives or agendas, for the sake of the real reason we’re here (to point others to eternal life with Christ), others respond positively.

If you would like to discover for yourself the way Christ lived while on the Earth, I would encourage you to read the Gospels – starting with John. They helped deepen my relationship with the God I serve. If you would like to talk about what you are studying, feel free to contact me at I love interacting with each one of you.

© Cheri Swalwell 2014

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