Helping someone in their sea of alligators

In John 13:34 Jesus gave this new commandment: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Sounds nice. But what is love?

When you look at the use of this word in the New Testament here is what you find. To love someone in this way means acknowledging that they are made in God’s image and pursuing God’s best for them, often in a self-sacrificial way.

This needs to be emphasized because contemporary ideas about love—which circulate on TV shows, social media posts, podcasts, and even in our conversations—are largely based on how we feel. 

But this kind of biblical love involves action and helpfulness. Larry Osborne says this: “People who are knee deep in a sea of alligators don’t have much interest in hearing someone’s creative plan to drain the swamp someday. They just want another shotgun, and they want it right now.”* 

I love that. It’s a funny but helpful way to put it. Jesus told his disciples that he loved them. But he also showed it in a very practical way by washing their feet (John 13:1-17). That is a very practical thing to do.

In his book The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it like this: “Love asks nothing in return, but seeks those who need it.”**

Everyone has their own version of the sea of alligators. Let’s love not just in theory, but in reality.


Podcast: “Jesus said he came to give us abundant life. What did he mean?” Click here, or subscribe to ‘The Pulse Podcast with Matthew Ruttan’ on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, TuneIn, Amazon Music or Audible.

Sermon. “Desperate times call for loving measures.” December 4, 2022. Click here.

–*Larry Osborne, Sticky Leaders (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, 2016), 29.

–**Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1959), 148.

–Bible quotes are from the NIV.

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