Love. Just the word invokes thoughts of hearts-and-flowers, fuzzy feelings and warm hugs. I'm reminded of those notes in grade school, "I love you. Do you love me? Yes or no?" It seems sad to me now that we had to ask if we were loved. Shouldn't love be obvious?
Jesus said that all men shall know that ye are My disciples: if ye have love one for another (John 13:35). The Amplified Bible describes it as 'unselfish concern for one another'. Jesus expected that love and unselfish concern to be obvious among His followers. It's supposed to be the benchmark that sets Christians apart from the rest of the world.
Unfortunately, it's not. It seems we can't get along with our parents, siblings, co-workers or the world at large. We've got 'issues' with almost everyone and everything: the government, the person in the check-out line who's taking too long, the distracted driver who cut in front of us too closely, and the person who interrupts our plans with their problems. We gripe about our government, our boss, our neighbor, and even our pastor. I could probably make a really long list if I thought about it. So could you.
Yet love, the God kind of love, is not fuzzy feelings and happily-ever-after's. It is not a Hallmark movie with every problem solved in two hours or less. Love is a choice, a commitment to live at all times and in all situations like God who is Love. The Apostle Peter, perhaps the disciple who struggled most with his motives and emotions, described it this way: For even unto this were ye called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps (I Peter 2:21).
Jesus displayed God's love throughout His earthly life, healing, providing, blessing and forgiving. He did not shrink back from uncomfortable situations, didn't refuse to help anyone who asked, and never hesitated to do the will of the Father. He Himself said, "I am come that you might have Life and have it more abundantly!" (John 10:10). That is Love's desire for everyone.
God wants you and me to live by the standard set in I Corinthians 13, the Love Chapter. You might ask how it's possible to be so 'loving' with all the troubles in the world. I'm glad you asked. Here are five keys to help you develop a deeper love walk.
Fill your spirit
Pray... and desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding (Col. 1:9). But the fruit of the spirit is love... (Gal. 5:22). You can't emulate God if you don't know Him. You need to be connected to His heart by spending time with Him through prayer and His Word. You keep your car filled with gas so you can go when and where you need to. You need to keep your spirit filled with the love and wisdom of God so you're ready to dispense His love to the world around you.
Forget your feelings
thou shalt forget thy misery, and remember it as waters that pass away (Job 11:16). It's easy to let yourself get caught up in the turmoil, tension, dissension and ire of the world. They've always got something to be upset or angry about. It's more difficult to stop those negative emotions and remember to walk in love. Love doesn't gossip or foster ill will. Love doesn't react to hurt feelings. It considers others' feelings instead of your own. Feelings are fickle. Don't trust them! Choose to give love in every situation.
Forgive every hurt
Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you that ye may be the children of your Father who is in Heaven (Matt. 5:44-45). Some of the last words Jesus spoke on earth were toward his tormentors, when He said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Forgiveness is a hallmark of walking in love. Love takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong] (I Cor. 13:5 AMPC). When you let go of your hurts and give them to God, He can make all things work together for good.
Flush out fear
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear has torment. He that fears is not made perfect in love (I John 4:18). Fear is the opposite of faith. It drowns you in anxiety and pain. When Jairus was told, "Your daughter is dead," Jesus responded immediately by telling him, "Fear not, believe only!" Fear cancels faith, love, and God's blessing. God functions in the realm of faith. Don't let fear get a foothold! Use the Word of God like a weapon (the Sword of the Spirit) to fend off every fear, anxiety and concern.
Flow with faith
Faith worketh by love (Gal. 5:6). The Bible says love never fails, so if you stay in love, your faith won't fail either. Faith is an abiding trust that what God says in His Word is Truth. Faith casts every care upon Him, believing that He not only can but will make your tests into testimonies. You can always respond in love because God's got your back! He is looking for those who through faith and patience will receive His promises.
A deeper love walk means a deeper commitment to the things of God. It requires faith and patience, knowing that Love is the Rule of the Kingdom. Grow in spirit; be quick to forgive. Don't allow petty hurts (or even big ones) to short-circuit the rewards of walking in love. Instead, believe His Word that promises if you stay rooted and grounded in love, you will be filled with all the fullness of God Himself. Totally and completely full of Love!