February is known for its focus on love. In honor of this tradition, I’m planning to devote this entire month of blog posts to love. Not the romantic kind of love we typically associate with Valentine’s Day, but the love we express to God, ourselves and others as followers of Jesus.
How Should We Define Love?
My church is currently in a study of first John. (Personal note: It is my top, #1 favorite book in the entire Bible.) This past Sunday our minister defined love as “actively seeking the highest good of the one who is loved.” Holy lightbulbs, Batman! I love that. It makes the concept of love so much easier for me to visualize and implement. I’m sharing it in hopes that it will be a lightbulb moment for you as well.
I plan to sit on this idea for the next few blog posts. Today I want to simply establish the idea, ask you to contemplate it and ruminate on it for a few days, and remind myself (and maybe a few others) that loving well is possible. Then, in the coming weeks, I will dedicate three more posts to what this looks like as we strive to love God, love ourselves and love others.
How Can We Love Like This on the Regular?
Let’s first address the elephant in this post. Because of The Fall (that unfortunate event involving God, Adam, Eve and a snake in the Garden of Eden), love like this does not come natural to us. Selfishness – now that comes natural. So how do we even begin to consider “actively seeking the highest good” of God, ourselves and others? It just seems so stinking impossible, but WITH GOD all things are possible.
The Indwelling of His Spirit Makes This Kind of Love Possible
I believe the answer is by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Hang with me, and I promise to give you a practical way for us to get the help we need to love God, ourselves and others well.
My first and favorite in-depth Bible study of all time is Living Beyond Yourself by Beth Moore. Let me tell you, I definitely got my money’s worth out of that study book. It is dog-eared, highlighted, marked up in pencil and pen, and been used thoroughly in the last 15 years. I strongly recommend it for believers at all stages of their Christian walk. I could write volumes related to what it taught me, but here it is in a nutshell:
Now that’s the kind of help I need to be able to deliver the highest good of the ones I want to love well.
How Do I Get Access to the Holy Spirit’s Power?
But how can this be applied in a practical way, you may ask. We simply ask God for what we need. In order to make room for the Holy Spirit, The first step is to come clean with God; I tell him my worries. I confess my sins. I simply empty me of…well, me! Next I ask him to fill up that space with the supernatural power of His Spirit. You can use your own words here, but it seems to help me to pray the same words every time. Here’s my usual prayer…
That’s it. Without fail, IF I start my day like this (and obviously I’m not too bright because many days I don’t), I can guarantee that it will be a good day. I will make better choices. I will feel His peace and comfort. I will love Him, myself and others well. Why? Because when we ask for His will to be done in us, He gives us what we ask for. Period.
Friendly warning: This really works, so be very careful what you ask for. You know, like how you might ask for more patience. I bet He loves it when He hears that one. However, this request seems to be a fairly safe bet because if we are full of His Spirit, we have all we need to face the day.
Finally, I want to share this video. Beth Moore tells the story of a time when she was able to love well through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In true Beth-fashion, you will find moments of laughter and inspiration. It’s a little long (by today’s video standards) but trust me, it is so worth it.
Oh, how amazing He is to use us as instruments of His love.