September 30 is National Love People Day. It’s a day to celebrate unconditional love among all people. And September 28 is National Good Neighbor Day. So, you can consider the last week of September a time to remember how to love and care for others.
Most seniors know that even if you are a loving, caring person, it can be hard to love people all of the time. People can annoy us, anger us, ignore us and hurt our feelings. It’s easy to respond to these imperfect relationships with anger or cut people out of our lives because they are difficult to deal with.
At Autumn View Gardens assisted living community in Ellisville, MO, our staff works under a faith-based mission of compassionate, humble service to others. We love all the residents in our care, and while no one is perfect, we strive to show that love in active service to others.
We’re proud to say many of our residents live out these same principles. They often care for each other in vibrant friendships, and many volunteer in various ways in the local community or by participating in projects such as blanket making or letter writing.
For times when caring for others — in your assisted living community or in the greater world — is hard to do, the Bible offers plenty of guidance. Check out some of what the Bible has to say about loving others below.
1 John 4:19 tells us that “We love because he first loved us.” The New Testament repeats this theme numerous times, and John writes it in numerous ways. It’s made clear that we didn’t earn God’s love but that he gives it freely. That means freely to those who call upon him and honor him, but it also means freely to those who turn away from him
God still loves the people who don’t love him. He may be heartbroken because they have turned away and will miss out on his blessings and grace, but he still loves them.
When you hear about the love of God, it’s often in the context of the New Testament, but the Old Testament is full of God’s unending love. The Israelites abandoned and disobeyed God so many times and in so many ways. And yes, God allowed them to be taken into captivity because of this. He allowed Israel to be split and to face wars. Because he knew that strife might be the only thing that turned his people back to him.
And every time Israel turned back to him, he sheltered them and gave them new blessings. He never stopped loving them.
God continues this unending, crazy love for his people when he sends Jesus to die for all our sins. Jesus becomes an example of love to other humans that we can strive to emulate. Certainly, no person will be able to reach this perfect love here on earth. But taking small steps daily to love people like Jesus did can make a difference in this world.
And Jesus loved in a big, rebellious way.
He loved the lepers — the people no one would touch. He loved the woman caught in sin when others would have stoned her. He loved the tax collector — a person despised by his fellow Jews.
Jesus didn’t just love the people who were easy to love. And he didn’t just love the people everyone else loved.
He loved despite the habits and values of the world — he loved in spite of those things. Which is how the Bible calls seniors of faith and other Christians to love.
Proverbs 10:12 says, “Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses.”
This doesn’t mean that love does away with sin — unless it’s God’s love. What it means is that by loving others and trying to live out the teachings of Jesus, we reduce the strife we have in relationships with others. Small offenses that might otherwise cause a break in relationships or long-lasting hurt can become relationship-building conversations instead.
The world seems always on fire and mired in battle, and there’s not much each individual senior can do about that. But by loving others, you can increase the peace in your own relationships and social circles, and that makes a difference in other people’s lives.
Seniors of faith probably know some of the Corinthians love chapter by heart. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Perhaps one of the hardest things to do is to patiently love when someone else seems intent on lashing out or making poor decisions. Remember that love doesn’t mean allowing yourself to get walked on. You should stand up for your own rights and not allow people to treat you poorly, and if you need assistance, you can always reach out to the community staff. But ensure that you’re doing all this with calm compassion and not allowing yourself to respond with your own anger.
Bethesda Foundaion is not associated with the Bethesda Health Group of St. Louis, MO.