When love is used as a verb in the Bible, it requires the lover to meet the needs of the one being loved. Love must be given away. God so loved the world that He gave (John 3:16). The corollary to John 3:16 is 1 John 3:16-18: "We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. . . . Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth."
The essence of love is meeting needs, and our most important assignment from God is to meet the needs of those who are closest to us (1 Timothy 5:8). We tend to use the people closest to us instead of meeting their needs. So the busy homemaker is out resolving everybody else's child-rearing problems but her own. The pastor is available to everyone but his wife and children. And the executive will work overtime to solve company problems while ignoring needs at home.
Take an inventory of your family's needs. I'm not talking about the external needs like clothing, education and food. I'm talking about gut-level needs that determine their sense of worth and belonging. When was the last time you hugged your child and told him you loved him? Have you noticed good character qualities in your spouse and pointed them out? If all you ever point out is physical qualities or achievements, your family members will base their worth on how well they perform and look instead of developing character. Do you regularly reinforce good behavior, or do you only notice the poor behavior? When your child does something nice, do you thank him? Does your child know that he is loved and valued from the way you talk to him?
Love can't be separated from action. Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). If you love your family members, follow through with loving words and deeds.
Lord, keep me from looking beyond the needs of those who are closest to me and from using my loved ones for my own purposes.