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Becoming more loving

Today I begin a series of Articles entitled “Becoming More”. Maybe all of us have a desire to become more than we are before God and toward others, beginning with those closest to us.

We can become more loving. God commands us to become more loving. Others need us to become more loving. We would enjoy becoming more loving.

To become more loving we must understand the meaning of the word love. Since the word love has lost its meaning in the 21st century, we must turn to the Bible to find the true meaning of the word. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 love is described. “Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish nor quick to take offense. Love keeps no score on wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope and its endurance. Love will never come to an end” (NEB). The example, standard and guidelines for love are the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrificial sufferings for us on the cross.

To become more loving we must personally experience God’s love. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10). You must experience God’s forgiveness for your every sin because of the Cross. You must experience being totally accepted by holy God only because all your wrongs were taken by Jesus on his cross. You must be able to say from your heart, “He loved me and gave himself for me and I have experienced that love.”

To become more loving you must forgive anyone and everyone you feel has wronged you. You can and must do this. “Forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:3). “But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15). Release the past and get on with the present.

To become more loving you must think thoughts of love. “As a person thinks in his heart, so is he”. “Whatever is loving, think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). Think about and meditate on the description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Try to memorize these verses. Think about the Savior’s love for us displayed at the cross. Jesus said for us to “remember the cross” often: His sufferings for our sins. We are not only saved by His cross we are saved to live the cross kind of love.

To become more loving we must understand that to love is both a choice and an action. In Colossians 3:14 the Bible says “Put on love” as a garment. We are not just to love persons we have affection for but persons we may not even like and persons for whom we may have a strong disapproval. Love is action. We must become more loving by faith, obedience, choice and action. In First John 3:18 God says, “Let us not love with words but with action and in truth.” Love was a choice by the Good Samaritan, who had no affection for the Jew who was wounded, stripped and robbed. He chose to cross several emotional barriers to apply medication, place the Jew on his personal donkey, rent him a room at an Inn and commit to financing extended care. Loving by choice and actions is explained in Luke 6:27. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who mistreat you.”

To become more loving we must ask and believe God for this love and depend upon the indwelling Spirit of Christ to enable us to become more loving. This kind of love will be produced by Him who dwells within. It is the will and plan of God for us to have this love. We can be certain we are praying according to the will of God when we ask for it and God will certainly answer. “If we ask anything according to God’s will, he hears us and we know that we have the petitions we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

We can become more loving. It is a choice and an action. We can go to the cross and to I Corinthians 13 for the description and our example. We can go to the cross for courage and inspiration. We can go to God in prayer and to the Holy Spirit for help. We can start at home and in our families, at our neighbor’s house and at the work place and at school.

–Charles Christmas’ column appears each Thursday.