I don’t love very well. My tendency is to close in on myself and keep my distance. Sometimes, I avoid the messiness that love brings. I fear that I will not know what to say or do in a situation that requires love, so to save me the uncertainty and stress, I just avoid it. I fear a lot of things, but scripture tells me that “there is no fear in love” and “the one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
So, very plainly, there is my litmus test for love. The less fear that I have the more love I will have in its place. Or, more truthfully, the more love that I have, the less fear I will have.
How do I cultivate love? First, through knowledge of God. Scripture says that “Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” This knowledge of God is not purely an academic knowledge but also an experiential knowledge.
God loves us first and our new life in Christ is born out of that love. We begin to grow in our love for God. That increases our knowledge of God and then increases our love for others and the people we love begin to know love and realize that love comes from God and that increases their knowledge and love of God and on and on.
Don’t take my word for it. Read 1 John 4 for yourself. Hear what it has to say about God, love, fear, hate. Meditate on a word or phrase that jumps out at you. Then take that word and turn it into a prayer for your life and his purposes.
For more about why this cultivation of love is so important, read last week’s post about developing a Plan for Growing Up and the first priority on character transformation.