by Angelos Mikhail and Rama Mansour
‘Love is the beauty of the soul.’ In this simple statement, St Augustine paints a picture about love that is so eloquent yet so succinct. Love is a simple but complex component of Christianity that seems to transcend every mode of human logic we know and in so doing, comprises a fundamental part of our faith, providing us with a taste of the Creator and a way to live our lives. In this piece, we aim to give you a few practical tips on how to show love to others so let’s dive right in...
A good place to start is to ask: why were we created in the first place? A simple answer for a complex question is as follows; we were created to be loved by God and to love Him back through our own free will. ‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8). It therefore makes sense that it is in our nature, being the children of God, to love. This is confirmed in Luke 10:26 when Christ articulated the greatest of all commandments: to Love God with all our heart, soul strength and mind. The rest of the commandments thus are not secondary commandments, but rather come about naturally as a result of fulfilling the first. What does this mean? If you love God, then through your love for God, you will love your neighbour. If you love God, then through your love for God, you will honour your father and mother, and so on for the rest of the commandments. The root of our love for others comes from our love for God, so in establishing ourselves in our love for God, it becomes natural for us to share that love with others.
Now it’s all well and good to understand why we are able to love and how important it is to us, but to apply this practically in our relationships with others is another task entirely. Luckily for us, Christ has not left us without adequate resources to use in order to fulfil this simple yet sometimes difficult commandment. 1 Corinthians 13, the ‘chapter of love,’ is probably the most renowned section of the Bible for Christians and non-Christians alike. It details the multi-faceted nature of love and is often recited in wedding ceremonies in classic chick flicks and your Netflix rom coms. Despite how widespread this passage is, the significance of its message often escapes the reader. We have already established that ‘God is love,’ and that in order for us to show love to others, we must imitate the one who by nature is Love. Therefore, instead of this passage simply describing the attributes of love, it now becomes a set of pointers, guiding us in expressing the divine love granted to us from God in a human form. It is, essentially, a CALL TO ACTION to all who read it. It is US who must be patient and kind. WE must bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things. In doing so, we will be able to achieve a perfect love that never fails.
The measure of one’s love is found in their conduct, and thus ‘all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another’ (John 12:35). So, it is important to consider that when showing love to others, whether they be friends, family or strangers, that we first determine the way in which they best receive love. This can be done by learning their love language (see: The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman) which include, but are not limited to: acts of service, words of affirmation, quality time, touch and giving gifts. Many people give and receive love in different ways, therefore learning which way works best for them will go a long way to successfully show love to all.
Suffice to say, we can spend hours talking about love and deliberating how to show it only to end up with a different answer each time. What remains constant is that it relies wholeheartedly on a firm love for God, first and foremost.
‘Love, by reason of its nature, is a resemblance to God, as far as that is possible for mortals; in its activity it is inebriation of the soul; and by its distinctive property it is a fountain of faith, an abyss of patience, a sea of humility’ - St John Climacus, The Ladder of Divine Ascent