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Love is a selfless, powerful action

By AL EARLEY

Religion columnist

I found this list of definitions of love from a bunch of kindergartners. I enjoy their wisdom and insights.  Danni says, “Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.”

Emily says, “Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss!”

The wise sage Bobby says, “Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.”

Nikka is on the right track when she says, “If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.”

Chris says, “Love is when Mommy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Brad Pitt.”

I love Rebecca’s story of love. She says, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.”

Jessica closes out this journey in childhood wisdom with this thought: “You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget!”

If you look carefully at all these descriptions of love, you will see that they involve a person doing something to show love. The kind of love that changes people, family, communities and the circumstances around us is not a warm, fuzzy feeling. It is when people are willing to be vulnerable and act.

Look at the descriptions of love again with another person, and talk about what the action was that made each child decide that was a definition of love.

The apostle John writes in I John 3:18, “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” John is not telling us that we don’t need to tell people we love them. He is reminding us that when we do tell people we love them, those words have power when they are backed up with actions that give those words meaning and power.

The apostle John again reminds us of how we can share meaningful love with one another in the first place. We read in I John 4:18, “We love because (God) first loved us.” This simple acronym can allow us to test ourselves to see how loving we are. Using the word ACTION can guide us to a more loving life.  “A” – Adore God. Adoring God, who first loved us will make us more loving.

“C” – Care for others by doing mission and ministries and sacrificing for others.

“T” – Teach Jesus to others. They will learn more about love, and teachers usually find they learn the material better when they teach it.

“I” – Involve others because what is love if it is not shared with others. The more freely it is shared the more people experience love.

“O” – Out reach (or reach out) beyond your comfort zone. It will deepen your love for all people.

“N” – New life. Look for the new life God will bring into the lives of others you love that you can celebrate the power of love and the power of God’s love in your life.

I have given you two tests to help you be more loving. Now comes the moment of truth. Will you find the actions involved in the children’s descriptions of love and review the challenges of having a loving life using the acronym “ACTION,” or will you set this article aside and think, “That is nice. Articles about love make me feel good.”

If you have read many of my articles, you know I want to challenge you (and myself) to live lives that glorify God. It is always my hope that God will use these simple articles to help people have some new insight into how to get more meaning and purpose from life.

Do you want to be more loving? What can you do to put your love into action? Who do you trust that you can talk to about being more loving? Has God been working in your life to move you out of your comfort zone, and get you to love others more?

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, visit www.lagrangepres.com.