The “Love Like Jesus” Contest

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, our family is having a “Love Like Jesus” contest. Our theme is I Peter 4:8, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” When you live life as a family, there are a multitude of sins that need a love covering, and my cover had been fraying up a storm lately. The unwalked/unfed dog, the gas tank left hovering on E, the teenager eye roll, the obstacle course to getting out the door in the morning, the picky eaters whining about a new recipe, the sibling squabbles over who did what to whom. You get the picture. I could put a righteous face on it and say sanctimoniously, “I’ve grown weary in well doing.” But honestly, I’ve just grown weary.

On Sunday, the pastor challenged us to love like Jesus. You know, that LOVE that runs down the road to hug the returning prodigal and leaves the ninety-nine sheep to go out looking for the lost one. Twenty years ago, my husband and I engraved (so naively!) on our wedding bands John 15:12, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Two decades and three children later, we are just beginning to realize what a high calling it is to love like Jesus when it is so easy to succumb to “love one another as I think my spouse deserves or is loving me back.”

So onward and upward with the “Love Like Jesus” contest. I’m finding the key is to focus on how loved I am by Him instead of my super-sensitive “how are you loving me-meter.” Having Valentine’s Day coincide with the start of Lent makes it easy to ponder the wonder of Christ’s sacrificial love. Picking up dirty socks does not hold a candle to leaving Heaven to be born in a stable. And, it is hard to play the martyr while driving a forgotten flute back to school while thinking about Jesus dying on a cross for my sins. My prayers have centered on asking for more of His love instead of changing this person or circumstance or bless me today. I know the Holy Spirit is powering the contest when I’m not even monitoring how well others are competing with me.

Hebrews 10:24 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Not only does Jesus’ love bring His kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven, it also puts the joy, joy, joy, joy back in my heart. Happy Valentine’s Day in deed!

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