Love One Another

by Crystal Bowman

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7 NIV

With Valentine’s day being smack dab in the middle of the month, February is known for celebrating love and romance. According to the National Retail Federation, about 55% of Americans celebrate Valentine’s Day, and those who do will spend close to $150 to give gifts to their loved ones.

To love others and to be loved is one of the strongest and most basic needs we have. When God created our innermost being (Psalm 139), He created us with that desire to love and be loved.

There are four different kinds of love in the Bible. Eros is a Greek word that refers to the longing or desire that is present in romantic love. Storge is the love we have for our family and close relatives. Mary and Martha showed this type of love in their deep grief over the death of their brother Lazarus. Philos is the love we have for friends. It’s the type of love we practice through social friendliness and acts of kindness. Agape is divine love. It’s the love God demonstrated when He gave His Son to die on the cross to save the world from sin (John 3:16). It’s the highest form of love and the kind of love God gives us every day.

Agape love is the type of love God commands us to have for others. It’s unconditional, unselfish, and sacrificial. In John 13:34-35 (NIV) Jesus tells His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”

Loving my friends and family is easy to do (most of the time). But loving strangers or people we don’t like is another matter. Do I truly care about the people suffering in 3rd world countries or inner-city slums? Do I offer agape love when it’s an inconvenience or a burden? 

One summer afternoon (before the pandemic), while walking downtown, I saw a homeless man sitting on a bench in front of our high-rise condo building. I’d seen him there often and usually smiled as I walked by. But this time, the Holy Spirit nudged me to do more than smile. I thought about my options as I rode the elevator to our floor. I knew he was probably hungry, but I wanted to offer more than physical food. 

After I packed a sack lunch and a bottle of water, I enclosed a copy of Our Daily Bread—a monthly devotional. I slipped some cash in between the pages of the devotional and rode the elevator back to the ground floor. I handed him the sack and said, “Here’s something I want to share with you.” He looked surprised, smiled brightly, and said, “Why, thank you so much. God bless you.”

This small act of love was not an inconvenience or a sacrifice. I’m not even sure in which category of love it belongs. But the smile on that man’s face is something I will never forget. I hope he read the devotions in the monthly booklet, and I hope he knows how much God loves him.

Expressing love is not just for the month of February, it’s for every day of the year. I pray that God will open my heart and my eyes to see ways I can show love to others.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 1 John 4:16 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Crystal Bowman is a bestselling, award-winning author of more than 100 books including, Our Daily Bread for Kids.She and her husband have three married children and seven huggable grandchildren.

When a child’s grandparent or great-grandparent is afflicted with dementia, it’s difficult to explain the disease in a way that helps the child understand why the person they love is not the same. I Love You to the Stars–When Grandma Forgets, Love Remembersis a picture book inspired by a true story to help young children understand that even though Grandma is acting differently, she still loves them–to the stars!

Join the conversation: Have you been led to show love lately? Tell us your story!

The Missing Ingredient

by Crystal Bowman

Resting in a ceramic bowl on my kitchen counter were three almost rotten bananas. My conscience told me what I needed to do—preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out the flour, sugar, shortening, and eggs. With my eyes glancing toward a stained recipe card now and then, I began to measure, pour, blend, and beat the ingredients. A tantalizing aroma soon permeated my kitchen, and I anticipated the pleasure of my husband and children as I served them warm buttery slices of delicious banana bread.

After rinsing the mixing bowl, measuring cup, and spatula, I peeked in the oven window to check on my creation. But instead of finding a rising loaf of banana bread, I saw a sunken mound of dough. I quickly reread the recipe and realized I had forgotten to include one tiny teaspoon of baking powder. How could one ingredient make that much difference?!

In 1 Corinthians 13, the Bible talks of a necessary ingredient—for everyday living. That ingredient is love. It’s the kind of love that God has for his people— an unconditional, never-ending, come-as-you-are kind of love. It’s patient and kind, never self-seeking. It does not envy or boast or keep a record of wrongs. It rejoices with the truth and never fails.

Jesus summed it up quite well with his poignant answer to a trick question by a teacher of the law. When asked which commandment was the most important, Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV).

Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, God enables us to love others the way that he loves us. It’s not always easy, but when we love and accept others for who they are, we demonstrate God’s love and can make a difference in their lives. Loving others also brings glory to God, who is the ultimate definition of love.

Every day, we can ask God to help us add the ingredient of love to all that we do. And when it comes to making banana bread, you can add lots of love, but don’t forget the baking soda!

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7 NIV).

Crystal BowmanAbout the author: Crystal Bowman is an award winning, best-selling author of more than 100 books for children including Our Daily Bread for KidsM is for Manger, and Does God Take Naps? She is a speaker and mentor for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and teaches at writers’ conferences. She is a regular contributor to Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and writes lyrics for children’s piano music. Crystal lives in both Florida and Michigan, and when she is not writing or playing with her grandkids, she loves to sneak outdoors to walk and talk with God.

Join the conversation: How has being loved by others made a difference in your life?