A few years ago, my wife and I attended a dance class with some friends of ours. For me, it was the biggest waste of time since attending LeMaze classes before our first child was born. When my wife was in labor, I instinctively began to administer the effleurage massage technique I had practiced on her in class. Through the sweat and screams she gored me with her glare and said something to the effect of, "Stop touching me. I don't ever want you to touch me again."
She denies saying that. But I know what I heard.
I was hoping for a more positive payoff for my efforts this time around, although we did get a pretty good kid out of the other deal.
For eight weeks, my wife and I took dancing lessons. I must say I held my own on the dance floor. I was able to do all the moves and do them in the right sequence without causing untold embarrassment to myself or the ones who love me. But I didn't learn how to dance.
The reality is, those eight weeks of lessons would have been enough; I could have learned how to dance if I then regularly went dancing. But going clubbing just isn’t a top priority for my wife and me. So any dance moves we may have picked up during those eight weeks were completely gone in two.
Like any other skill, learning how to dance takes discipline. We must not just receive instruction but put it into practice if we're going to be excel at it.
That holds true for the fine art of loving others as well.
If there is one thing our Heavenly Father wants His kids to excel at it's loving others. When asked by religious leaders what the greatest commandment was, Jesus, without hesitation, singled out loving as the most important thing Christians can do. And yet Christ-like love is often conspicuously absent in our interaction with others.
Face it, if we’ve grown up in the church, we’ve received all kinds of instruction as to how we are to love God and others. We know all there is to know about the Bible's teachings on the subject. We may even have some of the love passages memorized.
But if we don't practice loving others and practice it faithfully, all that instruction means nothing.
In 1st Corinthians 13--commonly known as the love chapter--the Apostle Paul says it bluntly. It doesn't matter how eloquently we can speak the Gospel. It doesn't matter how deep our knowledge, our understanding, or even our faith. It doesn't matter how much money we give to the less fortunate. If we don't have love, we are nothing.
Our Heavenly Father loves us with a love that will not give in, give up, or give out. Every day, we need to practice loving others that same way. Look for someone today to whom you can show genuine Christ-like love. Then look for someone else tomorrow. Then the next day. Who knows? You might get really good at it.