By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers (1 John 3:16, esv).
Unquenchable, unconquerable, unstoppable love—is your life marked by this? This brand of love is proof that you know the Savior. “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” If you truly know Christ, then there will be a growing pattern of love in your life.
Are you growing in love? You might worry, I’m not an effusive person. OrI didn’t grow up in a loving family. Orthis feels unnatural to me. But you are in Christ now, so though you aren’t perfectly loving all the time, you should be increasingly loving. Are you growing in your capacity to love? Are the following statements true of you?
1. I love more people than ever before. Think quantity. Has the number increased since you started following Jesus Christ? Do you love the people on your street? The people at work? Your family? Your in-laws? Love is the crux of the Christian life—not singing songs or memorizing verses. If you are following the Master, then you are growing in your capacity to love, and that means loving more people than ever before.
2. I love more kinds of people than ever before. Think diversity. Are you able to love people from different racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds? In the kingdom of God, we are all one in Jesus Christ. Our churches should be places where people are loved, not measured and assessed by meaningless externals. Are you growing in your capacity to love more kinds of people than ever before?
3. I love over longer periods of time than ever before. Think endurance. Before you became a Christian, maybe you could only put up with somebody for so long. Sadly, too many of us choose to move on to other relationships. Imagine instead the bond of loving someone for many years and being able to say, “I still love you. You still love me. We’re in this together.” The love of Christ perseveres over longer periods of time than ever before.
If these three statements are true of you—not perfectly so but increasingly so—then your love is proof of your allegiance to Jesus Christ. And this kind of love is urgently needed in our relationships, in our marriages, in our homes. Here’s why: You can change your job. People hop companies and careers all the time. You can change your neighborhood. If you’re at your wits’ end with your neighbor, move. You can even change churches, though I don’t recommend it.
But you can’t change your family.
More than anywhere else, you need a growing capacity for love within your home. What else will enable you to love these people for the rest of your life? You are not getting a different wife. Your husband is with you for life. If you’re tempted to think, I would be happier if I could just make a change now and cut my losses, then you’re deceiving yourself. There is more pain in that one decision than you could ever anticipate, plus devastation for your loved ones. Stick it out. Persevere in love. Prove with your life that you really do know and love Jesus Christ. Don’t give up on that person or that relationship. Humble yourself. Seek forgiveness. Start fresh. Pray for the love of Christ to permeate your relationships.
Keep growing in love.
- Are you growing in your capacity to love others? Cite evidence—loving more people, more kinds of people, and over longer periods of time.
- Which of your relationships most need(s) to be transformed by love?
Lord God, I am not what I could be. I am not what I should be. But I am not what I was, and thank You for that. I am Your daughter/son. I have a growing capacity to love. Because You have set Your love on me, I am growing in my love for You and for others. I am in process, and I’m moving forward. Please keep growing in me the capacity to love well those You’ve given me. In the name of Jesus, my Master, amen.
No relationships are more important than the relationships at home. And if you'll dedicate the time and equip yourself with the necessary tools, you can see these relationships grow stronger day by day. Because no matter what condition your family is in, no matter how your spouse feels about your relationship, it's never too late to break new ground and start doing things God's way.
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