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Is loving and acting loving the same thing?


Thanks for your response Ian. I was thinking of the life of Jesus with my question, yet, more specifically, with a situation that happened in my own life recently, which affected me both mentally and spiritually, and thankfully has passed. I think of people who have members of their family murdered, for example, yet at least verbally, they forgive the murderer.

Its like we have living water in us, and God comes along and drops in Alka-Seltzer, to activate the living water. I like that.


You think he ‘should’ (lol) !?!?


Well, I’m not thinkin’ my husband would let me wear it in public . . . . . . but the sentiment is sound.


I found it! Here’s an example of love in healthy relationships, when you don’t have to “act loving”: In a relational network, people are treated honestly for who they are, and if they are disruptive, people will continue to love them, though they will refuse to be exploited by them. [Middle of page 167, and I added the bold.]

When you love people but aren’t allowed to be honest in the relationship, it just sours everything. You feel like you are being exploited and behaving dishonestly at the same time.


Sometimes the best way to love people is to leave them alone. That’s the problems with having “rules” for loving. The battered wife must always return to her husband if she forgives him, or the abused child must “respect” a parent who is not worthy of respect. Love as a way of living takes into account the unique people and situations we are in. Loving someone doesn’t mean just being nice and letting them take advantage of you. Sometimes loving people means you tell them the truth and if they refuse to stop being destructive, you give them a wide berth. You don’t have to be someone else’s victim in the name of love.


All that makes sense. I guess we’ve heard so much legalism over the years, it’s hard to imagine that good sense is really good. As far as giving the destructive types a wide berth, that would be one more reason to give the IC a break. Telling people the truth is generally not safe there. They are so anxious to grow their church, you don’t dare do anything that might offend. After a while, I realized that the threat of taking offense was a pretty strong manipulative tool. Just can’t make any headway in an environment like that. . . . . . . So outside the world of the IC, if someone insists on being ugly and they just don’t get invited to supper anymore, they might get to thinking out in Wide Berth that they need to change their ways? We don’t have to give them a platform to continue their destruction. Everyone matters, not just those who are most adamant about having their way.


I have certainly experienced both. Loving from the heart is much more genuine and spontaneous, but I find that I have to ‘act in love’ with those people who are not necessarily very lovable. And then I have had to learn about boundaries with people who are ‘stuck’ or who always see the glass half empty. [quote=“waynejacobsen, post:15, topic:239”]
Sometimes loving people means you tell them the truth and if they refuse to stop being destructive, you give them a wide berth. You don’t have to be someone else’s victim in the name of love.

I often pray that I can love like Jesus loves, but there are so many situations where I end up feeling confused about certain relationships and my part in them. Jesus had such a perfect way of loving. Loving like He loves often seems unattainable.


I think the difference between acting loving and actively loving is the few inches between head and heart. In times past when I have tried to muster up love or act loving, it was with my head (intention) and came off a lot like tolerance – as if I was mustering up every shred of love I could for that person because there wasn’t enough I could see within them to generate it.

However, actively loving is definitely led via the heart. It doesn’t often make “sense” or is even logical.

For me personally, really loving someone (and not acting it out) comes from knowing them and knowing their story. I don’t think there is a person who has lived who didn’t have some sort of experience or event that upon hearing it, generates compassion and sheds light upon the reason they have seemed hard to love.

The beauty of not being locked into an IC for me is that there is time. So much more time to listen to stories, to dig down to feelings and emotions. To be geniunely interested because I have the time to do it and connect with that person on a deeper level. And honestly, because it is no longer about a time issue, I actually want to do it – rather than just tolerate them from what I have engaged thus far in the sporadic interactions during the social coffee time or a few moments at a church retreat.


One of my favorite quotes is, "“There isn’t anyone you couldn’t love once you’ve heard their story. ”
― Mary Lou Kownacki. There may be a couple of exceptions here, but not many, and probably no one we know!


It’s less about hoping they’ll change their ways as it is recognizing that the time we give to relationships is precious and we don’t want to squander it. We can’t build relationships with every one and there’s a sensitivity we can develop as to the relationships God is calling us into, and conversely those we just don’t have time for. A lot of that has to do with desire. God will put in our heart those people he wants us to connect with and we’ll know it’s him when they have a corresponding desire. Not all do.

If I’m caring about someone who is “relationally challenged” especially in a destructive way that makes it difficult to invite them when others are around, that usually merits a kind, compassionate conversation. I don’t think most people mean to be destructive, they just act out of insecurities they either can’t see or are otherwise unaware of. If I love them, I don’t mind risking the difficult conversation to let them know how they come off to people. Yes that often ends in hurt and accusations at me as they initially react, but often in a few weeks they come around and recognize that there may be something for Jesus to help them with. Truly it is “hurt” people who hurt people. Helping them not be hurt anymore is a gift!


I’m glad to hear that often ends well. Looks like the potential for healing might be greater among genuine friendships. It has been hard to have those kinds of relationships in the IC. There’s hope!!


When you have experienced Love work in you… You will know that acting is nothing more than the forgery. Something that may look like it to the unloved, but it won’t pass once Love has become real in your life. If you have experienced the real thing… you will never compare it to the counterfeit again.

Just my thoughts and experience. And in experiencing the real Love… I have no more doubts as to where that Love comes from and His real identity.

Ruby from Calmar, Alberta


I have a neighbor who I haven’t liked for awhile. I feel like if you give her an inch she would take a mile and move into your living room. She isn’t disruptive or mean. She smokes and every time I walk to my car I’m surrounded by her haze. First, I don’t dislike people who smoke. I think I am more annoyed that at my residence I have to deal with her smoke. She would try and say hi or be friendly and I would avoid her at all costs. Yes folks here is a very ugly side of me. I wouldn’t ignore her if she said hi I would just try and not look at her or acknowledge her. Seriously, really ugly side that needs to go. One day I had bought a bouquet of flowers and as she was walking by she admired them. I barely responded to her. A very tiny half hearted grunt. I should be pinched for such yuck personality. I got upstairs and just felt the Spirit convict me. I put my head down and said I’m so sorry Lord what can I do? I felt his prompting say go take her some flowers. So I did and she was kind and thrilled to receive them. It was a tiny gesture, but myself needs to walk in the right direction. To me my neighbor is anyone who is in my vicinity. I see her in back smoking and I wave to her. I say hi. I feel my heart softening and she has brokenness and who knows what of her very own. The least I can do is be genuinely kind. I don’t dislike her like I used to. I want to see her with the compassion Jesus would.


I sure appreciate your sharing that right now. Just started a book on Disciple-Making Movements (chalk it up to the quagmire of rural ministry - and you do have to deal with what “is.”). Some very helpful observations in it. But I got real stressed out when we got to the chapter on struggling and striving to keep the commands of Jesus. Sounds too much like: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. I know the author meant well; he was asking us to take seriously living the Christian life. But when we talk too much about striving and struggling, I feel like we are trying to attain to a Jesus who is “out there” someplace, not living out of a life who lives in us, ya’ know?


Showing truly compassionate kindness and love is extremely difficult at times. I heard one author say it isn’t only difficult, it’s impossible… at least it’s impossible with our human strength (because it’s like the old sayings go, “to err is human” and “we all make mistakes”). That author went on to say that only Jesus could live it, and only Jesus could give it (or give us the power to live out this kind of love).

In my opinion, if you don’t have this kind of love in you, the best thing to do is to be honest with God… Tell him you can’t love like this, but then ask Him to make His almighty power work in you, and through you, so that you can have this kind of love overflow from you to others… Then relax in His love and see what He can do, and see what happens in your life.

These things aren’t easy when so many people have grossly mistreated us or our loved ones. I had a lot of people mistreat me in my past, and I have even had a lot of preachers that verbally abused me, were psychologically abusive, and falsely accused me of all kinds of silly stuff. As I said in my back ground story (see this Lifestream discussion link), I had to tell God that I couldn’t show love to people, and that He needed to give me power to do it, or else it wouldn’t get done.

I have noticed that when I ask God the Father to have His love flow through me to others, He actually does help me show His love. To keep it real and honest though, (1) I still need to ask God for His help on a regular basis, and (2) I still get angry with people sometimes, such as when people run me off the road and nearly get me killed due to their reckless driving habits.

Sometimes when we try to show love to others, the big problem becomes “we are trying”, or in other words, we aren’t living by faith, but are actually living through self-effort (or our flawed human flesh), and like the old sayings go, “to err is human” and “we all make mistakes”. So we are often left with Romans 7 experiences where the good things we want to do, we always seem to fail to do, and the mistakes and bad things we know we shouldn’t do, are the things we seem to end up doing. The only solutions I have ever seen are (1) get to know Gods love, stick close to Gods love, and learn to relax in His love, (2) live by faith instead of self effort, and (3) be willing to admit to God that you can’t do it, and ask Him to send His power to work in you to help you with these things…

I hope this helps, or at least gives some good ideas for friendly discussion. :slight_smile:

Bailey, NC


“But how do you love someone who doesn’t like your way of life and will attempt to do anything in their power to destroy you? That type of love, I simply don’t possess.” --RonL

I guess the “right answer” would go something like this: Christ is my life…I’m crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Jesus Christ now lives in me. So…Holy Spirit, live and love through me with your strength, life and love…
However, this can even be a hard prayer to pray depending on the person you are not loving right now…especially if they are seeking to destroy you! Perhaps it helps to remember that we are all in the same boat? What God did for me out of His love, He also did for them. We all have messed up pasts and are all just trying to figure the whole thing out. I suppose we can just rest in Christ to figure it all out for that person too. That does seem to take the pressure off of me to “Love” that unlovable one. The good news is that Christ already loved them enough on the cross (in my place). And what can I possibly add to the completed work of the cross? And perhaps when we realize the pressure is off and we are totally dependent and resting in Christ for everything (love for others included)…well…then He’s got you where He wants you (in a place of trust) and can work through you…
…just thinking this out with you all…thoughts? I know I’ve come to the place of now knowing the pressure is off…and what a relief!


I’ve wanted to remind the person most responsible for our forced termination that God loves her as well as the people she hates.


Hi Joan,

I think you are on the right track…

Just keep learning about Gods love, relaxing in His love, and asking for His help…


Thanks for your reply, Joan. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner.

I tend to distance myself when people become too overwhelming for me, like the situation I described to you. I have currently distanced myself from a long-time friend that at one time, I could handle his negative influence realizing what you said Joan. But when that is all you have…

My challenge is looking for the Christ in others. It is like looking for a needle in a haystack. On the God Journey blog there is a discussion currently which I joined, which talks about the monumental struggle of trying to become like Christ. I have decided for myself it is fruitless. I can only love like Christ by Him loving me, I can’t become like Him. Receiving His love through prayer and meditation, through thoughtful discernment of His word, through His own being. For me it must start there.


Yes I totally agree. I began harp lessons with this teacher for the last 2 months. What’s the difference? She’s totally in her heart . Her energy is totally loving her beingness is loving no expectations total acceptance receiving me . She sees me as whole.I don’t need to prove myself. She is a being of joy and love. So why am I pointing this out? I grew up an environment of behavior of acting in love giving to people loving for approval. see how loving I am. But also looking at people as if they need me to give them love to looking at them as if they were broken I have met people along the way and recently I have dropped classes because the people were saying you are broken let me fix you I am here to help you. I love it when people are there seeing me as whole. I realize now that’s why I want to bring people into my life that people who receive me as whole . they don’t need to give me compliments they are loving in themselves. So today I begin. I begin seeing people as whole not judging not being critical. Because the more loving I feel within my own soul the more being of love I can be. Yes sometimes people need some compassion but in compassion I can see them as whole. Thank you