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.
1 Peter 1:22, NLT*
Sincere love. Deep, whole-hearted love. This isn’t surface-friendly love. Nor it is always warm and fuzzy.
This is love as a choice. An act of the will, a decision of the mind. If the heart is slow to catch up, it can’t be allowed to affect the acting out of the love.
Let’s be honest. The whole reason onlookers were surprised to see how the early church loved one another is that we’re not a lovable bunch. We’re real people, like everyone else, with hurts, hang-ups, and habits.
Our love for the God who loves us – that’s the glue that binds us together. He loves us, and He says to love one another, so we do it for Him.
An important way to start is by asking God what He sees when He looks at each one. Not what dirt does He still see to clean up, but what potential? What did He design this person to become? What gifts has He given that He’d like to see developed and used? And, I suppose, what hurt does He see that He’d like to use you or me to help heal? What need, to help meet?
Then we need to pray for one another. Individually, by name, for God’s best in the person’s life. Sincere prayer grows love.
We’ll likely also need to pray for ourselves. “Lord, change me” is a prayer God loves to answer. After all, we can’t change others. As we let Him change us, though, that may inspire change around us.
Lord, change me… and thank You for Your patience and mercy in the changing. Grow Your church and help us to love one another as You love us, for the glory of Your Name. May others see enough of You in us to draw them to know You.
If you’re having trouble loving some of the people in your church, here’s the song that’s now my prayer: Matt Maher‘s “Instrument.”
*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.