The second chapter of our book study book, How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids was on loving your husband. The message we heard on Sunday was about love from 1 John 4. And of course, our small group study time was digging even deeper into the message to talk about loving…because he first loved us.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:7-11 ESV)

We’ve pretty much all heard of phileo love – the brotherly love and affection that accompanies most relationships. We also know there is agape love, which is the completely selfless, self-giving love that expects nothing in return. This love loves even when rejected, which is definitely not something I practice very often.

But HOW do we love? We dug deep into one small word in 1 John 4:7-21 – that word is “ought”. As in, “We ought to love one another”; ought the way “fish out to swim in water and birds ought to fly in the air and living creatures ought to breathe and peaches ought to be sweet and lemons ought to be sour….” (I forget where the quote was from :0/). CIMG0963 by pansy, on Pix-O-Sphere

It is something that should come naturally, an instinct.

Yet I know that, in most cases, this is NOT my natural reaction, my first instinct. I have come to see, through this past week, that I am indeed a very selfish, self-serving, unloving person – in my own nature. Without Christ at work in me, I will serve myself 100% of the time. Without Christ maturing and teaching me, I will choose to react out of anger and frustration instead of respond in love. Without accepting and practicing, acknowledging and praising God for his love, I will exude coldness and selfishness.

This is not what I desire – not one bit! But loving others is not natural for me, so how do I overcome this? Well, to start, I need to make a choice to practice love. When I’m tempted to react in anger or frustration, I need to stop and pray and ask for the Lord to fill me with love for the person or situation I face. Forcing it or trying on my own strength is not going to amount to anything – I need to be a willing vessel and be ready to let GOD do the work in my heart. Cross in the Sky by gotoant, on Pix-O-Sphere I need to study what God’s word says about love, surround myself with examples of it, talk about it and encourage others, teach it to my children, pursue it on a daily basis and not give myself excuses to NOT respond in love. I need to pray for others, especially those who are hard to love, that God would change MY HEART toward them.

Speaking of those who are hard to love – just exactly WHO are we supposed to love? Our family? Friends? Co-workers? Church family? Neighbours?

Jesus told the disciples: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this ALL PEOPLE will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)

This doesn’t mean I have to go out and find people to love. All of us are called to love; some people are gifted and called to love more deeply than others, seeking out those who are unlovely and difficult to love. My refusal to love and pursue love is a rejection of the great gift of love that the Father gave to all mankind – his son, Jesus Christ.

What this means is that I need to be Christ to EVERYONE I encounter. I need to show love AT ALL TIMES (yikes, that’s a tall order!). That means that on Sunday mornings I need to go up to that person I would rather avoid or don’t want to get into conversation with and engage them, love on them. That means I need to sacrifice my time to pray for others who are in need – and by experience, the more I do this, the more I come to LOVE THEM (even people I have never met in person!) and care about them.

The more we practice love, the more love God gives us. We OUGHT to love – truly, deeply, wildly, abundantly, godly.

If you’re finding it difficult to love others, continue to pray for God’s love to be revealed in you and through you, at all times and in all things. And be prepared for the change of heart and attitude as you grow and learn to love. Mustard Seeds

Good Morning Girls Women in the Word