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Growing in God's Love

God is love. 1 John 4:16 tells us, “And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him”. But what is love? A definition that I once heard and I still hold onto is that, love is wanting the best for the other party. That makes love a choice we make and not a feeling. Our emotions can swing in all directions depending on our circumstances, but we can choose to act in love, both when our circumstances are good and when they are not so good.

In Galatians 5:22-23 we read that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If we walk in the Spirit and not according to the lusts of the flesh, the fruits of the Spirit will ripen in our lives. It is an ongoing process of growth. The goal of our lives should be to continually mature in the fruits of the Spirit and to grow in love to become more and more like Jesus. He is the human image of God the Father for us here on earth.

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 we read about how love can be expressed through our lives. “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” These are characteristics that don't always flow easily or naturally from my life. But I want to grow in love and become more and more like Jesus, so I aim to read these verses every day.

Philippians 2:12-13 says, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”. Throughout my day and life, I certainly encounter people and situations where I am not always able to shine at my best. When I find myself in a situation where I have not acted from an attitude of love, I see it as an opportunity to work on my salvation with fear and trembling. I don't want this person or situation to become a stumbling block for me but rather a stepping stone and opportunity for me to become more like Jesus.

It is not always necessary for me to hear the audible voice of God to realize that I have done something stupid. Some things we just know are wrong, either by our inner conscious or the inner witness of the Holy Spirit. Acts 3:19-20 (NLT) says: “Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord”. Then I see it as a great opportunity to repent of my negative attitude, ask for forgiveness, and ask to be filled with love so that I can act in love the next time I find myself in a similar situation. This is a good and practical way for me to grow in love.

*Unless noted, Scriptures are NKJV


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