Christ is well-known for His life of love. Everything He did – from meeting people on the street to fulfilling His Atonement – was defined by love. During His life, He gave His disciples the commandment to “love one another as I have loved you.” The love He asked (and still asks) His disciples to give went far beyond simple kindness, though kindness is certainly a big part of Christ’s love.
To know how we need to show love, we need to understand Christ’s love. We need to recognize what was most important to Him and how He chose to live because of His most important values. So to help us start to understand Christ’s love, here are 5 ways Christ showed love during His life.
1. Christ Humbly Served Others
Christ loved His disciples. He spent a lot of time teaching them and guiding them. But one of the most memorable moments He had with them was when He washed their feet. His followers looked up to Him in every way – as their Messiah, God, and Friend – yet He knelt in front of them and scrubbed the dirt from their feet.
Though Christ was their leader, though He is God, He did not hesitate to do service to those He loved. He had no problem being at the feet of His followers, performing a task that many might cringe at.
Christ’s love was not hindered by pride or position. In fact, when Peter tried to stop Him from this humble gesture, Christ insisted on continuing. He didn’t see Himself as higher than these men, and He felt no shame in washing their feet.
Our takeaway then is to seek to love others through humble service. Sometimes the needs of those around us demand that we do things that are not glamorous, impressive, or enjoyable. But to show Christ-like love, we need to willingly step forward to fill those needs without pride and with great humility. In those moments, it isn’t about us – what we get out of it, what we look like, or what we think we’re better suited for – it’s about offering ourselves as servants to the needs of others.
2. Christ Healed Pain
Many of us face challenges in our lives that last for a long time – years even. Christ healed the pain of so many people during His life (and still does today). But the one that stands out to me is the woman with the issue of blood. Her struggle had been so long and painful. She was literally desperate because there was no other solution to give her healing. Christ was the only One she could turn to.
And in return, He not only healed the health problem this woman faced, but He offered her emotional and spiritual healing through His kind reception of her.
I actually love that, in this story, the woman is healed by simply touching Christ. I think it demonstrates the power and love He brings to us the moment He enters our lives. All it took was one instant of reaching out, and He welcomed her with healing love.
He does the same with us. The instant we reach out toward Him with faith, He comes to us fully to offer love and healing. And though we are mortals in a fallen world who need Him over and over, He comes to us every time we reach out.
I also love this though because I think this is something we can do as well. Of course, we aren’t able to come to everyone and heal them the way Christ does. But we can show up. We can put ourselves in places to support others. When they are struggling, we can be with them to show them we care, and just being there to welcome them when they reach out can give some level of healing. And we can point them to Christ in those moments as well so they can receive full healing.
3. Christ Taught Truth
Often, when we talk about Christ’s love, we focus on the healing and the service that He offered. Those are important aspects of His love to remember, but there are other aspects that are less talked about and are equally important. The thing is, these are less comfortable aspects of love to think about, so sometimes they are ignored.
The first of these is that Christ always taught truth. Truth is not always pleasant to hear, especially when it shows you that you are in the wrong or need to change. Sometimes it seems kinder to teach things that aren’t quite true because they are more comfortable subjects, but it isn’t love to encourage belief in things that are not true. Instead, truth, however uncomfortable it might be, is often what people need more than comfort. Recognizing that need and being willing to share needed truths is an act of love.
An example of this from Christ’s life is when He spoke with the rich young ruler. The young man wanted to know what he needed to do to receive eternal life, and Christ told him to keep the commandments. The young man responded that he always did, so then Christ told him what he most needed to do – sell everything he had, give to the poor, and follow Him.
The young man didn’t like this response. Now, we don’t know what he did following that exchange with Jesus. We just know the answer brought him sorrow because he was wealthy. It’s possible he later chose to do as Christ directed, but again, we don’t know.
However, I do think we can all relate to this young man. How many times have you heard teachings from Christ and cringed a little inside because you knew that you weren’t doing some of the things He taught? Personally, I find that to be pretty common in my life. Just when I think I’m doing okay, I’m reminded of an eternal truth that Christ taught that reminds me just how much I still have to learn and grow.
These things are not comfortable to hear. We don’t want to be told how we are wrong or how we need to change. But to truly follow Christ, we need to be willing to make those changes and accept His true teachings.
It also means that, if we are in a position to share the truth that Christ taught with others, we need to be willing to show that kind of love as well. It may lead to uncomfortable conversations. Some people might reject what we have to say. Plenty of people certainly rejected Christ when He taught truth. But if we really love Christ and God’s children, we’ll share needed truth.
4. Christ Did Not Condone Sin
Another way Christ showed love that we don’t often talk about is that He did not condone sin – but neither did He reject the sinner. We do hear a lot about how Christ accepts sinners and shows love to them. But that first part – that He does not condone sin – is a harder one to talk about.
When the woman taken in adultery was brought to Christ, He defended her from condemnation. He wanted everyone to recognize that they all sinned and made mistakes. Not one of them was perfect except for Him. Christ gave the woman love and respect instead of hate or condemnation.
But, it’s also important to point out that at no point did Christ say to this woman that what she had done was acceptable. Instead, He told her that she had a chance to change and “sin no more” (John 8:11). He did not let the sin define her or destroy her, but He did expect her to change and put that sin behind her.
Christ came to earth so He could suffer the price of our sins. He paid that price so that if we chose to change, we would have that opportunity, and we’d be able to come to Him without having to pay that price ourselves. He, of all people, knows how dangerous and destructive and miserable sin can be. He knows how bad it is for us because He carried the weight of everyone’s sins. And because He loves us, He doesn’t want us to experience those things forever.
Knowing how awful sin is for us and how it prevents us from returning to our Father, Christ would never condone sin. He won’t tell us that it’s okay to sin, but He will say that there’s always a way back from sin. And no matter what sins we’ve committed, He will still greet us with love and understanding, and He will help us move forward and away from those sins.
Christ does accept and love sinners, but that does not mean He accepts sin in any form. He will take us as we are, but we are expected to change and grow from there. We can show this love as well. Accept all people as they are and love them because they are children of God. But don’t encourage or support sin in any form. We can’t force anyone to change, but we don’t have to support sin either. This goes hand in hand with teaching truth – as we accept all people, we can also share Christ’s truth. And Christ can help bring the needed change.
5. Christ Always Put His Father First
Throughout His life, Christ always chose to defer to our Father in Heaven first. Doing so helped Him accept the will of our Father and filled Him with the love of our Father as well. Christ could see us as our Father sees us because He chose to be one with the Father. This was especially true when He chose to accept God’s will and fulfill the Atonement.
Now, we will probably never be perfect at this in this mortal life. But we can still give our best efforts to learning the will of our Father and letting go of our own will when it doesn’t match the will of the Father. When we do this, we can learn more about our Father, how He sees us, and how much He loves each and every one of us. This in turn will help us show more love to others around us.
Remember, the two great commandments are to first, love God, and second, love our neighbors. When we choose to love God first, He helps and guides us to love our neighbors better. It takes time and practice to be really good at both of these commandments, but little by little, we can grow to be more obedient and loving to our God and all His children.