Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘genuine friendship’

Increased LOVE, like FAITH, takes EFFORT


Yes, I want to be more kind, more loving, more at peace. Don’t we all? In my quiet meditation time this morning, I stumbled upon 2Peter 1:2-7 and the question that starts that scripture caught my heart. “Do you want more and more of God’s kindness and peace?” I was reading the Living Bible, paraphrased – a large print copy that used to belong to my father-in-law. Gratefully, I inherited it when he passed on to his eternal home. This passage was underlined. Grandpa had double-underlined the next sentence, “Then learn to know Him better and better.” Yes, that’s what my sanctuary time is all about each morning. Study God’s Word, and get to know Him better. What are some of the benefits? The rest of this passage spells it out – and I easily connected the idea of “increased faith” with the reality of “increased love.” But there is a long pathway that leads to increased love (which equates to more of God’s kindness and peace). It takes plain old good, hard work!

“For as you know Him better, He will give you, through His great power, everything you need for living a truly good life: He even shares His own glory and His own goodness with us!”

I have added the capitals to “Him.” The Bible doesn’t capitalize it. For me, the word requires a capital case letter when the him is not just any old him, but the One HIM, our Lord and Savior, God. So, when I share in His glory and goodness, it is special indeed! The scripture doesn’t stop there, though.

Verse 4- “And by that same mighty power, He has given us all the other rich and wonderful blessings He promised; for instance, the promise to save us from the lust and rottenness all around us, and to give us His own character.” Wow! What a promise!! How can I attain such blessings? Some would say it is totally by His grace. I don’t have to DO anything. Just because I BELIEVE I am His “chosen,” I will receive all these blessings. Well, not according to 2Peter 1: 5-7. Read on!

“BUT, to obtain these gifts, you need more than faith; you must also work hard to be good, and even that is not enough. For then you must learn to know God better and discover what He wants you to do.” (That’s always a trick to discern what He wants me to do!)

“Next, learn to put aside your own desires so that you will become patient and godly, gladly letting God have His way with you.” (I am reminded of my oldest grandson, Mikey. He’s now 20, but when he was barely able to pull himself up by his mother’s apron strings and stand knee-high next to her, he would tug on that apron as she warmed his bottle in hot water on the stove. Sure he was starving to death, he would cry, “Paaaay-shuns! Paaaay-shuns!” Ah, we long for it even as we are barely able to verbalize a sentence!)

“This will make possible the next step, which is for you to enjoy other people and to like them, and finally you will grow to love them deeply.”

Grow to love. Grow in faith. Work at it. Take the path that has “exercise stops” along the way. Exercise your goodness first – the goodness Christ has given you. Then stop to exercise wisdom – the knowledge we gain as we study God’s Word and practice being more and more like Christ. Next, exercise selflessness and self-control, the fruits that the Holy Spirit has planted in you. Practice patience and gentleness. Your next stop on the exercise trail is labeled “Gratitude.” It is there that you learn to be grateful for the gifts you have been given while you focus on the gifts in others. You see their goodness, compassion, and faithfulness as God sees them. Put on your Jesus glasses and appreciate all that is unique and wonderful about others. You see them as God’s creations. You have exercised enough now to love them. Love takes effort! It is a gift worth working for. Thank God, He has freely loved us long before we knew how to love Him back. But now we do! We are getting to know God better and better. Praise the Lord!

Yes, the bottom line is the key: Love One Another.

Amen?

How Do I Love You?


The famous Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s poem, How Do I Love Thee, counts the ways: ” … to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach, … to the level of every day’s most quiet need, … by sun and candlelight…  freely, as men strive for Right; … purely, as they turn from Praise… with passion … and my childhood’s faith… [and with] the breath, smiles, tears, of all my life! — and, if God choose, … better after death.” Ah, such poetry!! How do I begin to approximate such love? To the depth, breadth and height my soul can reach – I don’t judge my silly son-in-law as foolish when he buys for my teen-aged grandson something I am sure he’s not old enough to take care of. To the level of my most quiet need – I love my husband when he stays out fishing with his buddies long past the hour when dinner was still moist and edible. By sun and candlelight – I relight the candle when he walks in after dark and I sit down to enjoy a glass of wine with him, asking sweetly, “So, my dear one, how was your day?”  Freely, as men (and women) strive for Right –  I look beyond the superficial, get my ego out of the way, and avoid passing judgement on motives I cannot possibly read correctly without a crystal ball. Purely, turning from praise – I buy the chicken, debone it,  wash and season it, allow it to rest in its marinade until just the right time, and call you in to light the barbecue and place it on the coals. Then, I smile as you soak up the praise for how delicious it is!  With passion – I touch you tenderly in all the right places – on your skin and in your heart. And with my childhood’s faith – I see beyond the exterior to your very soul, where the depth and breadth and height of you resides – in your relationship with our dog. The breath, smiles, tears of all  my life are not hidden from you – I love you with honest vulnerability and genuine friendship. And, if God choose, better after death – I pray for your eternity and mine to be bound in love as only God can count the ways. I love you eternally!

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