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When in Doubt, Love

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:14, esv).

Sometime in the late 1990s, I began the habit of ending each of our worship services by declaring the same three-word benediction to our congregation—“You are loved”—and I’ve been doing it ever since. It was a seemingly minor decision at the time, but it’s come to be of great importance to me. Little did I know then, as I know now, just how wonderful those words are to say—and not only to say, but to mean, to hear, and to live.

“When you don’t know what to do, love.”

Because everything about being a Christian is tied up in love. It’s what “binds everything together in perfect harmony.”

The whole atmosphere of the Christian life is love. “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:4b–5), making us His “chosen ones, holy and beloved” (Colossians 3:12). That’s why we can join with Paul in asking the rhetorical question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ” (Romans 8:35)? The answer, of course, is no one. And nothing! Love is who Jesus is; love is what Jesus did; love is what Jesus gave; love is the ocean we are swimming in.

So as those who’ve been totally secured in His inseparable love by His grace and through faith in the Lord Jesus, love is what we’re now called to do—to love others, no matter what.

Each of us, whatever our circumstances or situation, shares at least a portion of our lives with someone who presses us to the edge of our capacity to love. Putting up with what they do to us or demand of us can sometimes feel nearly impossible to handle. But in those exasperating moments when you ask yourself, What should I do about all this?, let the Word of God speak your answer: “Put on love.” Love is what you should do.

But that is what I’ve been doing, you might say. Then keep on doing it! Because love will be the making of you. Whatever sense of relief or revenge you think would be gained by turning away and giving up on this person, will only actually result in regrettable loss compared to what love—and only love—can achieve.

When you don’t know what to do, love.

If we’d ever let God really convince us to live out this conviction . . . if word ever got out that our churches were places where, if someone were to bring all their mess and nonsense to us, they could know we would sit with them, cry with them, pray with them—love them—imagine the enormity of what might happen.

Love is not out there in the world for people to find. Love is not what they’re accustomed to experiencing. So if it’s not here, with us, where is it? If it can’t be found in the church, coming from God’s beloved children, where else can anyone go to get it?

If you want to be a person whose influence can help change people’s lives, and if you want your church to become a powerhouse of blessing and impact, the choice is very clear.

What to do?

You should love.


  • Who in your life is hardest to love?
  • What would it look like for you to choose to increase your love for him or her?

Lord God, You have loved me with an everlasting love. You have demonstrated love to me in ways that I could never hope to repay. I praise and honor You for Your incredible patience and Your jealous tenacity that keeps You pursuing and forgiving me. Help me honor Your willingness to love me by loving others with a “no matter what” commitment to them. Equip me to become one of Your means of showing how deep, wide, boundless, and irrepressible Your love truly is. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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