Eternal loving. Is it possible?

Since my last post about really lovingthe Spirit keeps zeroing in on Scriptures that focus on loving each other. Hmmm. I suppose this is all part of an answer to my prayer, a plea to transform my loving.

I feel I know so little about how to love with Christ’s love. That’s why we depend on His Spirit to help us, right? How else could loving as God loves ever happen in our lives?

Yet there it is, time and again in Scripture — the command to love. “Love each other as I have loved you.” Love each other as brothers and sisters. Without love, we are nothing more than annoying noise.

Several truths shine for me today in these words from Peter:

You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.

For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.    (1 Peter 1:22,23 NLT)

There it is again — love deeply with all your heart. That echoes Paul’s words to really love, don’t just pretend to love.

These words were written by Peter, a man who surely struggled just as much as I do with my old nature. His transformation after Jesus’ death and resurrection is astonishing. By human standards, such change in a person might seem impossible. But the Holy Spirit took hold of Peter, and he lived a new life.

Peter’s words here tell me, Love, because you are born again, a new creature. And because loving here will have consequences that last forever.

Love, because you are born of God, you are now God’s child.
Love like your Father teaches you to love.
Love, because He loves.
Love, because you have been born into this new life and brought into the kingdom of Christ — and love is the standard of living here in this kingdom.

Love, because love has eternal consequences. What I do now is part of my eternal life! Like a toddler taking baby steps, my Father is teaching me to love in a way that will end someday in my running and jumping in love!

One more comforting, encouraging, hopeful word from these verses: This new life (and love) comes from the eternal, living word of God. Only God gives a new life. Only God gives such a love. I’m taking baby steps, but the Father is holding my hand and encouraging and supporting and coaxing His daughter along.

Spirit of the living, life-giving, eternal God, transform my loving!


Hearts Made Strong

Believe it or not, there’s a set of dumbbells in my closet. Every now and then I pull them out and fling them around for a few days. Then (as you’ve probably already suspected) I forget about them for months at a time.

In my Bible, there’s an old worn index card with faded writing. My own, younger, handwriting. The heading says, “Heart exercises,” and below that is a list from 1 Corinthians 13. Every now and then, I read that list to remind me of what my love needs to practice.

Yet I confess that sometimes those old, familiar passages just run over me like the waters of a summer downpour … poured out, they run over hard ground, run off and quickly drain away before they have a chance to sink in and water my heart and soul.

This morning, I read the heart exercises in a different translation, the waters soak deep, and I am humbled by how much work I still have to do …

I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding.

This verse from Philippians is what reminded me of the heart exercises. The word for love used here is that agape love, the love that takes action for the good of someone else.

I ask the Spirit how that love can overflow more and more in my life … and then I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 13. And, wow! Take a look at the actions this love produces. And believe me, exercising these things is far harder than flinging dumbbells. 

* Patience
* Kindness
* Not jealous or boastful or proud or rude 
* Does not demand its own way (uh-oh. I do believe in the last two sessions of our small group Bible study, I’ve said these very words: I like to have my own way, I like to have things the way I want them.)
* Not irritable
* Keeps no record of wrongs
* Does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices when truth wins
* Never gives up
* Never loses faith
* Is always hopeful
* Endures through every circumstance

I could add a note to every one of those points, telling you how I’ve failed in the last few weeks. Instead, I’d like to focus on the good news, the hope and the promise.

The last part of the Philippians verse reflects Paul’s prayer for growth in knowledge and understanding. Me! Me! Me, too!  I want to grow in understanding of how my life can overflow with agape love toward those God has put in my life. As you can tell, I don’t care too much about those barbells, but the desire of my heart is to learn how to love as God loves us. (And remember, Father, you’ve promised to give me the desires of my heart!)

There’s more good news. In his letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, Paul offers the same kind of prayer for growing and overflowing love in their lives. And then he adds this:

May he, as a result, make your hearts strong, blameless, and holy as you stand before God our Father when our Lord Jesus comes again with all his holy people.

What a promise! This kind of loving makes our hearts strong, blameless, and holy!

I want a heart like that. And I intend to be far more faithful to this strength training than I am to those dusty things in my closet.


Scripture: Philippians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7; 1 Thessalonians 3:13 (all NLT)