We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
We love because he first loved us.
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
(Romans 5:5 NIV)
In chapters 19 and 20 we focused on the greatest commands: Love God, and love your neighbor. In the context of Jesus’ teaching, the emphasis seems to be on our own responsibility to choose to love God and others. However, there is clearly an aspect of our love which is God’s doing. As the above verses indicate, our love for one another has its source in God’s love, and is tied closely with the salvation he has freely given us.
Love is listed first in describing the “fruit” of the Holy Spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Clearly, without the Holy Spirit we could not love others as we ought to. Likewise, we must abide in Jesus in order to be fruitful:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
Our love is not yet what it will be, as it should be increasing over time:
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. (1Thessalonians 3:12 NIV)
We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (2Thessalonians 1:3)
Loving others is also something we are taught by God to do:
Now about brotherly love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. (1Thessalonians 4:9 NIV)
We should keep in mind that religious actions which appear to be based on love may actually come from other motives:
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1Corinthians 13:3)
What about you? Is love apparent in your life? Is it increasing over time?
For Further Reflection
1Corinthians 13: The Love Chapter.
1Corinthians 13: Read it again, and prayerfully consider what aspect of love you are weakest in. Consider asking God to help you to love others better.
Luke 10:25-37: The parable of the good Samaritan.
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