This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Everybody Always" by Bob Goff. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.
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What is Everybody, Always by Bob Goff about? What lessons can you learn from Bob Goff’s book about Christian love?
Everybody, Always, Bob Goff’s book about loving others, teaches the importance of loving everybody, even your enemies. Goff says that there is no perfect time or place to start showing love, and you should start loving everyone right now if you want to become love as God intended.
Continue on to read about Everybody, Always by Bob Goff.
Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
We all want to become the best versions of ourselves, but what does that mean and how do you measure your success? Do your accomplishments and accolades equate to the best version of yourself, or do you seek a deeper connection with the world and people around you? According to Everybody, Always, Bob Goff says that the best version of who you can be is the one who is most in line with God’s plan for you. And God’s plan for everyone is to become love and live as Jesus lived. To become love, you must rid your life of fear, doubt, and judgment and put your faith in God’s love. When you become love, you become the person God created you to be.
The following advice provides a roadmap for you to find the courage to love everyone, even those who are difficult to love. Only through this unconditional form of love will you find yourself.
Love Others As Jesus Loves You
If you love Jesus, then you must love all of Jesus. God created people in Jesus’s image, which means Jesus lives inside all of us. If you only love the people who are easy to love, you are only loving part of Jesus. Jesus wants you to give love freely so that others can see the power of His love through you. That is your purpose as part of God’s world, and when you fulfill that purpose, you move farther down the path to your true identity.
You may find it hard to show love to everyone freely. You likely experience fear or anxiety when you meet people who scare you, make you uncomfortable, or simply annoy you. This fear is normal, but realize that when you love as Jesus does, you are on the right path with God. You have nothing to fear because God wants you to succeed. Define your life by your faith and ability to love, and you will always receive God’s love in return.
Approach Your Faith With Childlike Wonder
Children are curious by nature and open to adventure. They seek to discover new things about the world and themselves. God wants you to approach your faith in this same way because when you explore your faith like a child, you stop being afraid of what you’ll find. When you fear life or others, you hinder your ability to feel God’s love. You want assurances that your love will be accepted or that God is truly with you, but you can’t experience God’s love from behind barriers.
You have to wander down the path laid out before you with faith that God will guide you to your purpose. Learning to love everyone is a life-long commitment, not a momentary action when you feel strong in your faith. Get out of your comfort zone and be willing to explore the unknown parts of yourself to grow stronger in your faith. You will find it easier to feel love and share love with the world.
Love Your Neighbors First and Foremost
Jesus said you should love your neighbors first. He did this because when you learn to love people outside your personal world first, you will be able to love everyone more easily. Your neighbors are not literally the people living in your neighborhood. Your neighbors are everyone you see around you. They are the bus driver, the difficult co-worker, the man sleeping on the street, the person with a different lifestyle, and the person with different beliefs than yours. Everyone is your neighbor, and you are theirs. When you love yourself, you delight God. Love your neighbor like you love yourself to experience more of God’s joy.
Help People Grow, Not Fail
You don’t like to be told what to do, and neither does anyone else. But when you disagree with someone or believe you know what is best, you often try to force your opinions on others or control what they do. Think about how you react when someone tries to control your decisions. Even if you comply and do what others tell you, your actions are inauthentic because they didn’t come from a place of love in your heart. And if you aren’t able to live up to others’ expectations, you feel ashamed.
Rather than telling people what they should do, show people who they are. People often rise to the occasion of who others believe them to be. When you show someone who they are, you give them agency to become that person any way they see fit. Their actions become authentic, and you have given them faith in themselves, which equates to faith in God. Becoming love means granting that gift to everyone you see. Don’t set people up to fail by trying to control what they do. Shame leads to silence and distances people from one another. Give people the freedom to become who God has made them to be, and give them love to help support their journey.
Build Kingdoms for All to Enjoy
God built his kingdom for all of us to live in and wants us to build kingdoms for each other. But most of us build castles surrounded by moats and barricades to keep us safe from the outside world. Your castle is built with the aspects of your life, such as your job, relationships, and possessions. You might build a beautiful castle, but you can’t show everyone love from atop a turret. Instead, build a kingdom that’s open to everyone as God has done for you.
Within your kingdom, commit to loving everyone equally with respect and deference. This is how God loves the people in His kingdom. When you become love, you share your love without restrictions or agenda. And when there is no agenda to your love, you will feel the power of that love and all it can bring to your kingdom. Be with people, not just near people, in your love. If you can be with people, you will be with God.
Commit to Love 30 Seconds at a Time
It’s easy to agree to love people better or follow Jesus’s commandments, but it’s harder to actually do those things. In both instances, you can stay on track in your quest to become love by loving people for 30 seconds. When you meet difficult people, show them love for 30 seconds. When you’ve reached the end, commit to 30 more seconds. Thirty seconds may not seem like a lot, but it’s a reasonable amount of time to ask yourself to do anything, and the more you do it, the more you will become comfortable with the action.
The same is true for following your faith and living like Jesus. You may agree with everything Jesus says, but committing to following Jesus’s example requires change and growth. When you feel all the change and growth happening at once, you can become overwhelmed and give up. Take your personal change and growth 30 seconds at a time to help stay the course. If you give yourself this small amount of space to focus your attention on God, you will ensure your faith is authentic and your growth is real.
Don’t Fake Your Faith
People often believe that agreeing with Jesus is enough. You’ve likely believed this, too. You see the way Jesus loves and believes in doing good for others. You may even have done a few things for others here and there. But a temporary action or superficial belief is not the same as becoming love. Flipping parts of you over to hide the flaws is not true change or growth. When you move forward as though it is, you fool yourself and others, but you don’t fool God.
You don’t need to understand your faith perfectly to become love. God knows who you are and what you’re capable of and wants you to get there. He delights in your attempts to become love, not in your assertions that you’ve become love. Be honest with yourself and with God about who you are, who you want to become, and where you are with Him, and He will continue to provide the grace you need to get there.
Don’t Keep a Scorecard for God
When you start keeping track of your good deeds as proof of your commitment to God, the actions become more important than your faith. You’re not becoming love but making love about you, not God. God doesn’t care how many people you choose to show love to. He wants your heart, and He wants your honest intention to represent His love to others through your actions.
Consider the example of winning tickets for games played at pizza parlors, such as Showbiz Pizza. You collect these tickets, assuming that the more you have, the greater your reward will be. You start to play only certain games to get the most tickets, rather than the games you actually love to play. But when you finally turn in all those tickets, your reward is a mere trinket, not the expensive gift you were expecting. You inflated the value of your tickets and did what you thought would bring you something equally valuable. If you inflate the value of your actions in the same way, you will never be satisfied in your relationship with God because God’s grace comes in many forms, and you may devalue the grace you’re receiving.
Love for the sake of love, and eventually you will become love. And when you become love, you have pleased God more than any list of accomplishments could.
You likely are similar to most people in that you like to play it safe in life most of the time. You make plans and set expectations for what will happen and seek the answers to your questions before you feel comfortable moving forward. But struggle is what creates change. A life without struggle is a life going nowhere.
God doesn’t provide challenges so He can watch you suffer. He knows you will learn the most lessons when you’re required to be brave. His plan for you has nothing to do with your plans for yourself, and when you wait until everything is figured out before you leap, you miss out on his guidance. You’re not taking a leap of faith when you play it safe. The only thing you need to move forward is faith. Believe in God’s love and His plan for you, and know that as long as you continue to follow the path before you, you will be led to where you’re supposed to be.
Bob Goff learned about his faith while piloting a plane one night. When he activated his landing gear, one of the green lights that signals the proper release of each wheel didn’t light up. It was dark, and there was no way to tell whether the wheel was actually down or not. Bob knew he couldn’t just keep circling the landing strip. He decided to put his faith in God and take the leap. When he touched down, all three wheels of his small plane hit the tarmac. The green light had simply burned out. Don’t let a malfunctioning light keep you from believing in the path before you. Understand that your struggles are what make you stronger.
Becoming love means understanding that the challenges you face along the way are intentional, and if you’re brave enough to keep walking, there will be more love on the other side. You may not always be able to see the next steps ahead, but you don’t have to. Jesus points you in a direction and calls to you from the edge of your life. You don’t need to rush or worry about stumbling. If you fall, Jesus will catch you. And in doing so, He teaches you how to call to others and catch them. When you learn to have blind faith, you will be able to show it to others and point them in the right direction. All you need to do after that is provide encouragement and love, like God has given you.
Offer What You Have to Give
You’re never going to have everything you think you need to become love, but you don’t need to. What you have in your life is what you are meant to have, and God is waiting for you to offer it up so He can show you how to use it. When you focus on what you don’t have, you create limitations for your life and ability to love. You stray from the path because your head has turned away from God’s love and your life followed.
You will experience hardships in life, and you may lose parts of it you feel you need to go on. Love anyway. When you use what you have to become love in your own unique way, your focus is on love, which means it’s on God. When you focus on your faith, you will know that you have everything you need to become the person you’re supposed to be. God wants you to succeed, and He has confidence in your ability to succeed on your own. Don’t fear your limitations. Find strength in what you have and the courage to allow your gifts to be enough to become love.
Treat Everyone Like They Are Jesus
If you ran into Jesus on the street, you would stop everything you were doing and do whatever you could to show Him love. What you may not realize is that you meet Jesus every day. Jesus is inside of everyone, which means you have the opportunity to show Jesus love each time someone is in front of you. Some people will be easier to love than others, but the ones who are harder to love were brought to you on purpose. Those people are who you will prove your faith in God with by loving them unconditionally, the way Jesus loves you.
Loving everybody always is a difficult task. You may lose face, pride, money, and time. You may lose friends and receive backlash from others. You might decide those losses are too high a price to pay to love someone you find difficult. But what price would you pay if you knew you were giving love directly to Jesus? Grace, or the embodiment of open love, is not costly when you love like Jesus. The more grace you give to others, the more grace you will receive. God wants people to see Himself in you, and He wants you to see Him in everyone else. Love without restriction because when you love everyone, you are loving God to your fullest potential.
You Have Nothing to Fear When You Give Love
God wants you to love your enemies because the power of that love is greater than any love you’ve ever known. But loving someone who has wronged you or you feel is a terrible person is scary. It requires you to change who you are and what you believe and move forward blindly in love. That sort of commitment can feel overwhelming. But God does not stop loving people when they mess up or do bad things. His love extends to all at all times. His love is perfect, and if you want to love like God, you must strive for that perfection.
God doesn’t expect you to be perfect, and there is no shame in messing up along the way. What He wants is your honest attempt to love perfectly. When you show your commitment to love perfectly, you don’t have to worry about messing up or be afraid. You can have faith that you are following the path God wants you to be on and trust that He will provide you with everything you need to succeed.
Bob learned about a witch doctor in Uganda who mutilated a 10-year-old boy and left him to die. The boy survived, and Bob used his experience as a lawyer to help with the legal proceedings. The witch doctor was tried and convicted, which was a first for the country. Law enforcement and lawyers are typically too afraid of the witch doctors to prosecute. Bob knew this man was a monster, but he also knew that Jesus would want him to show this man love. So Bob started visiting the man in jail and talking to him about God and becoming love. Over time, those lessons changed both men, and together, they were able to spread God’s word to other prisoners and witch doctors and create lasting changes in the lives of the prisoners and Ugandan people.
Loving your enemies is an unthinkable act, but God gives you the unthinkable to show you the power of his love. When you experience the unthinkable, you know that there are no limits to your love. And when there are no limits to your love, you become perfect, like Jesus.
Where Do You Want to Go?
Right now, decide where you want to go with your faith. Decide what relationship you want with God. Make a commitment to get there through love. Call someone you hurt or who has hurt you and show them love. Go out into the world and find someone who needs your love. Visit with someone you fear or who makes you uncomfortable and love them for 30 seconds at a time. Becoming love is intentional. Hoping for a better you is not the same as acting in a better way. Don’t wait for the answers or a perfect time or place. Start loving everyone right now so you can start living the life God granted you.
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Here's what you'll find in our full Everybody Always summary :
- How to live your life like Jesus lived his
- Why you need to open yourself up to God's love and give love to others
- How to deepen your faith by focusing on love rather than showing that you "agree" with God