Love: It’s an Action Word!
We all seek to be loved and life would be empty without it. Being on the receiving end is the easy part. Being on the giving end can sometimes be a little tricky. In all of history, there is arguably no other topic examined or discussed more. It is interesting to note that the word “love” is mentioned as many as 551 times in the Scriptures (depending on the version). And there are entire passages in that Divine roadmap devoted to defining it at length: what love is and what it is not. That’s a lot of “airtime.”
One thing is for certain, Scriptures command us to do it, meaning that it is not always second nature to us. Jesus said:
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.
Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
I have asked myself, how does that challenge me? In that verse, Jesus did not simply say, “to love,” but also adds, “as I have loved you.” Looking to His life for examples, we read that Jesus fed the hungry. He taught others with patience. He healed with compassion. He comforted with understanding. Clearly, Jesus showed loved by His actions. And when we put another before ourselves in even the simplest act of love, we are loving “in truth,” as we are entreated to do:
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.
Sometimes I feel just plain too tired to put love into action, or I feel cranky, or really hungry. (That last one is usually my excuse!) Author and psychologist Aysha Ives lists some simple ways to show love to others that might not always occur to us. We just do not always think to do some of the things that can mean so very much to others, even a stranger, on the receiving end. Aysha writes:
Compliment a stranger. Everyone loves compliments.
Give someone a smile. Smiles are contagious.
Send a handwritten letter or card to a loved one.
Start a conversation with someone who looks a little ‘down in the dumps.’ It’s certain to brighten his/her mood.
Call someone whom you haven’t spoken to in a while. I’m sure Grandma or a beloved auntie would love to hear from you.
Give a gift…anonymously. What a selfless way to let someone know that s(he)’s loved and thought about.
Volunteer to do something helpful for your mom or dad. They’ll be grateful for one less task or chore to do.
Give the gift of time. Volunteer to sit with your elderly neighbor or to babysit for a single parent.
Give someone a hug. Sometimes a hug is just what someone needs to feel better. 
I find that when we do some of these simple things for others it also changes us for the better. We become closer to God. One of my very favorite verses about that concept, and there are many, encourages us to abide (or dwell) in love:
God is love. And he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1 John 4:16
Wow! So powerful, so profound, and yet so simple. I am motivated by the thought that when I seek ways to put love into action as a way of life, even in the simplest ways, our Almighty God is loving others through my actions.
I have also learned I don’t always have to “feel affectionate” at the time. Every parent knows that when you get up repeatedly during the night to feed or change a crying child, you certainly do not “feel” affectionate. But it is an act of love all the same. We are abiding in God and He is abiding in us, as the Scripture describes.
For example, I usually have trouble with the “merging traffic” thing here in freeway-congested Southern California. But when I do simply back off and make room when someone is trying to cut me off, I am actually less stressed. I feel that I have just done something “divine” and the blessing is mine. Even a simple “action” such as that. Life and love can be so much more complicated, of course. It is not always simple or easy. But when we abide in love, there is great joy for us.
1 Ives, A. (2011, June 8) Everyday Ways to Show Love to Others. Retrieved from Project Inspired.com website: http://www.projectinspired.com/everyday-ways-to-show-love-to-other-people/