"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves." Romans 12:10
There's a lot of passages, narratives, and instructions about love in the Bible. It's a topic we truly cannot avoid as believers because not only are the two greatest commands to love God and to love others (see: Matthew 22:36-40), but love is one of the fruits of the Spirit we are supposed to bear. And sometimes I wonder if I really love all that well.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Galatians 5:22-23
It is not easy to love when we are hurt, bearing grudges, or think we're better than others. Love is hard when certain people are involved. When we let go of the resentments and honor others, love becomes possible. Though love may not result in reconciliation, love can take the place of distrust, betrayal, and disappointment. Love covers a multitude of sins (see: 1 Peter 4:8). Love is truly radical and transforms us from the inside out.
The reality is that we cannot love without God's strength and help. Love is a choice. It isn't a feeling or always our first inclination, but it is the way of live we must choose as followers of Jesus. When Jesus walked the earth, He loved in powerful ways. He loved the sinners, the outcasts, and the least of peoples. We can do just the same. The choice is ours. Do we push away or love? Do we gossip or love? Do we serve ourselves or love? Do we hurt or love?
"By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them." Matthew 7:16-20
God's word is clear that we are known by the fruit we bear. If we aren't bearing the fruit of love, it may be time to allow God to do some work on our hearts. If you cannot love, what's making that difficult for you? Where does healing need to take place in your own life so that you can love God and love others, joyfully bearing the fruit of love?
For some, you've been let down, stepped on, and have decided putting a wall up around yourself (and your ability to love) is the answer. Can you allow God to bring comfort to your wounds and soften your heart? It's a courageous move, but one that will change your life forever.
For others, you may do what looks like acts of love just for show and to get praise. You do loving things as an act and you're tired. Can you allow God to break down your illusions and facades, so that you can love authentically? It's a vulnerable move, but you will become captivated by real love.
Perhaps you're on board and just want to know how you can love God and others better. It starts with loving thoughts, moving to loving words, to loving time spent together, to loving acts of service. Jesus said, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:35). So, take the leap of faith and love. Consider loving words you can say, consider putting others before yourself, consider how you can honor those around you, consider how you can serve others first. Love is powerful and the world will know you belong to Jesus because you bear the fruit of love so deeply and genuinely.
As you look to the week ahead, I invite you to work on bearing the fruit of love. Start by getting into the Bible and prayerfully reflecting on how you can love better. God will be with you every step of the way.
Let us pray
Lord, we thank you that because you first loved us, that we can in turn love you and love others. Love can be scary or feel intimidating, but we want to be faithful stewards as your followers. Help us to be lovers in a world full of hate, division, and judgment. Help us to speak loving words, think loving thoughts, and do loving acts of service. Let us out of love share our gifts, talents, skills, and resources. Let us be known for our ability to love in supernatural ways empowered by your Spirit. Amen.
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