How do you live a life filled with love? I think we would all say that we try to love others as much as we can. But is our life really filled with love?
Ephesians 5:2 tells us to “Live a life filled with love following the example of Christ.”
What do you think of when you hear the word “filled”? For me, I think of being filled to the brim. For example, my coffee cup needs to be filled up to the brim in order for me to consider it to be “filled”. If you only fill my coffee cup halfway, we may have an issue. And I may ask you to finish filling it up.
And if my cup is filled to the brim with coffee then there really isn’t any room for anything else, is there? I can’t add anything to it because it is already full. In the same way our hearts can’t be filled with love if they are already filled up with something else. Like selfishness. Or fear. Or worry. Or even the stress that accompanies an overbooked schedule.
These days being busy almost seems to be a badge of honor. Like it is proof that we are successful. Proof that we are accomplishing great things. When we are asked how we are doing we often respond with a sigh and say, “I am fine. Just busy.”
Could it be that our busyness is getting in the way of us loving and helping others?
In his book The One Thing by Gary Keller he tells a story about a group of seminary students that unknowingly participated in an experiment. One set of students were told they were going to give a talk on the Good Samaritan while the other were told they were going to give a talk on seminary jobs. Within each separate group of students some were told they were late, and others were told that they had plenty of time. Along the route there had been placed a man who clearly needed help. The deciding factor on whether these students stopped to help was whether or not they had time. The ones running late, even though they were running late to give a speech on the Good Samaritan, were so caught up in what they were doing that they didn’t even notice the man in need.
When we are busy, instead of seeing a child’s request for help as an opportunity to serve, we instead see it as an unpleasant interruption. When we are running late, we will find it hard to stop and notice the people around us. And when we are juggling too many activities, we will find it much harder to be patient with others.
Think about it:
- How easy is it to respond in love to our children when we are running late?
- How easy is it to love on our spouse when we are exhausted?
- How easy is it to notice our lonely neighbor when we are running from one activity to the next?
We simply cannot love on others when we are too busy to notice them. So maybe the key to being filled with love is taking an honest look at our schedules and how busy we are.
Because we can’t be filled with love if we are already full of something else. Just like you cannot pour anything into a cup if it is already full. A cup that is empty has more value simply because it is ready to be filled. And just like my coffee cup can’t fill me with it’s warm goodness unless I fill it up with coffee, God can’t use me to bring warmth to the world unless I empty my schedule and make time to be filled with His love.
The Message version of Ephesians 5:2 reads this way, “Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.”
Jesus had lots of people vying for his attention and yet He still noticed the people around him.
- A lonely Samaritan woman at a well during the heat of the day.
- A sick woman who touched his cloak in the middle of a crowd.
- Lots of little children who were running around him.
But the Bible also tells us that Jesus often left the crowds and went to a quiet place to pray. He was able to stop and notice people because he had some breathing room in his schedule, and He spent that time with God which helped him to recharge.
In the same way we need to recharge and keep company with God so that we can learn how to live a life of love.
Because loving others isn’t going to come naturally. Our natural bent is to be selfish. Our natural bent is to be absorbed in our own emotions. Our natural bent is to concern ourselves with all that we need to get done or all that we want to do. And when we are full of our own selfish motives, we can’t be filled with love for others.
Is there anything God is asking you to pour out so you can take the time to be filled with His love? Spend some time in prayer today and ask God to reveal anything you may need to let go of in order to love the people around you better. Because when we are filled with His love then we can bring warmth and goodness to a world that desperately needs it. Just like a great cup of coffee, may we be filled to the brim with God’s love.
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