When you love people with the love of Jesus (8) you will pray for them. It’s a practical way to express love. It’s not the only way. It shouldn’t be a substitute for other things we obviously ought to do. But it is right to pray for those we love, as Christ Himself did (John 17).
When you are convinced that the good things you see in people (3-5) are the result of a ‘’good work’’ of God in them (6), you will be encouraged to pray for more.
We all need to love more (9); love God more and love people more. When you boil it all down, this life of Christian discipleship is about loving God and loving people, and where love is concerned we have ‘growing room’ in our souls. But love must not be ‘wishy-washy’ or gullible. ‘’So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush.’’ The Message.
• There are people who are lovely but they are easily taken in ‘’by every wind of doctrine’’ (Eph.4:14). They are like weather vanes. They easily move in the breeze of the latest fads, fancies, trends and opinions. They lack deep roots. They are short on settled convictions based upon solid Biblical truth. They have a ‘water bed’ beneath them rather than a firm foundation.
• Others claim to be Christians, but they are flexible regarding the truth. Their beliefs have soft edges and they get blurred as they attempt to blend in rather than stand out. They have an ‘anything goes’ attitude.
Loving more doesn’t mean going along with everything others say. Love must have backbone. There is such a thing as tough love. I can love you without agreeing with you or pretending I do. I can be tolerant towards you without having to incorporate your beliefs and practices into mine. Loving discernment is required in this world in which we are surrounded by a toxic atmosphere of error (10). We need to be able to:
• ‘’discern what is best’’ to believe, and
• ‘’discern what is best’’ to do.
We need to be able to think clearly and choose wisely in order to live lives that please God as we look forward to meeting Jesus. I think it was John Wesley who said, ‘’There are only two days on my calendar: today and that day.’’ The Christian life is one of constant movement towards ‘’that day’’ when we see Jesus. We look forward. We anticipate. We live ‘in the future tense.’ We let ‘then’ affect ‘now’. Someone pointed out that whenever the second coming of Jesus is mentioned in the New Testament it is done so without date, to keep us on our toes.
As we grow in love for others, let it be a discriminating affection so that we do not permit another’s bad attitudes, ideas, behaviours become our own. May we so grow in love for God and others that we hate sin and grow in Christlikeness (11; see Gal.5:22, 23; John 15:5). Such growth comes ‘’through Jesus Christ’’ and so is ‘’to the glory and praise of God.’’ (‘’…making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.’’ The Message.)
Prayer: Lord make me like you.