what do I do with this stuff I learn?

That’s a significant question.

We read. A lot. We hear. A lot. We say A lot.

And then we live. A lot.

Some of us are very comfortable keeping the input and the output separate. Some of us avoid the hard work of taking the interesting ideas we hear and the fascinating role models we read about and working to understand how all of that would work in real life, in our lives.

But you know what? Most of us actually are trying to make a connection. Most of us are attempting to change, to grow, to deepen. We are attempting, like the wise man, to hear the words of Jesus and put them into practice.

I mean, when we read that Jesus says,

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

we do it.

  • We listen to someone who annoys us and we say, “what would it look like to love this person in the way Jesus loves me?”
  • We think, “what specific loving action can I do?”
  • We pick one “another” out of all of the “anothers” in our life and we identify one specific action today that will prefer them to us and then we make sure that we do that one specific action today.
  • We don’t look for the most extreme, most “anyone but that person” person, but we start with the first name and action that comes to mind when we say, “So God. Who would you like to love through me today?”
  • Right after we read this post, we pick up the phone or we put down the keyboard or we pick up the floor.


11 thoughts on “what do I do with this stuff I learn?

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  2. Rich Dixon

    This is so convicting. I know the words. I understand the ideas. I believe in their power and importance.

    And I don’t do it.

    It’s not that I don’t know how–you just told me. But I do what I don’t want to do, and I don’t do what I want to do (some great writer said something like that, I think).

    I know–but I don’t do.



    1. Jon Swanson

      part of it is because it is so big and we have no idea what counts as success. So we rationalize on either side (“I love more than that person” or “I’m always failing”.) That’s why I’m trying to think, “okay, in that last conversation, did I show love? In this next interaction, can I express love”?

      I’m working on a print version of the Matthew part of 300 words. The revision process looks huge. But this morning as I looked at it, i thought “Chapter intros. There are only 11. At one a day, that’s less than two weeks.”

      It was a relief. There was hope.

      I understand that in loving people that bother us, including ourselves, there are lots of points of resistance. It is counter-culture. It is counter-our nature. But it is measure, not at a macro-level, but at a “this conversation” “this thought” “This step” level. So forget “loving people” as an abstraction. Act lovingly toward that person. (And preface it with, “God, do you find that person annoying too? Ah, but you love them anyway. So could you help me?”


  3. Frank Reed


    Big concept when Jesus capsulized the law in just “Love the Lord your God with all your heart mind strength and soul AND love your neighbor as yourself”.

    Big yet simple. Big yet huge. It’s hard to do but that’s no excuse. I wish I had some kind of thing that could physically pinch me when my mind goes to where it naturally wants to regarding people. I would spend most of the day in pain but I would know that my heart is wrong and I would have a chance to move in the right direction.

    Thanks for the always thought provoking insights, Jon. Peace to you.


    1. Jon Swanson

      Frank, great thought. when we get further into John 15, we’ll see that when Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit, he provides a partial job description. And that includes reminding us of what Jesus said, and teaching us. And that’s sort of pinching.

      The challenge for me is remembering to listen.


    1. Jon Swanson

      ah quinn. even when I wrote that, I knew I should be clearer. But I only have 300 words.

      For some of us, being loving is picking up the stuff on the floor, the stuff we drop, the stuff others drop.

      thanks for asking.


  4. Robyn

    I truly enjoy your writings and look forward to them. Today’s post especially resonates with me for a number of reasons. I believe loving one another is one of the most overlooked commands from Jesus. Yet it is the one thing we came into this world equipped to do. I mean it doesn’t require any reading, studying, equipment. money…you get the idea. It really isn’t physically to taxing to wrap your arms around someone is it? And yet it can me the most difficult at times.

    I’m convinced it is the only way I can make a difference is by loving – other people will be smarter than me, better communicators, more well known, etc. Years from now though will someone remember a presentation or how you loved them…I think it is the latter.

    I think it’s also the one command many people are so afraid to do fearing it will make them vulnerable or appear weak. I certainly have not mastered this but it’s something I am wholeheartedly committed to and leaning into everyday. And I’m finding there’s freedom, joy and more goodness than I can even put into words.

    Thank you for your encouragement today!


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