“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.” 1 Thessalonians 3:12
“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. Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.” 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Love is an action, and action isn’t stagnant. Saying we love someone then not repeating it for years ‘ because nothing’s changed’ is no way to love. In Christ, and for Christ and others, our love should be constant, and constantly growing. It should continually thrive and increase as we grow up in spiritual maturity, in knowledge and understanding of our Lord and those He’s given us to love. If we are loving in His way and power, love will abound and multiply to spread His influence.
Love can grow when our heart soil is rich, aerated with grace, forgiveness, kindness, and courtesy. It must be cleared of stones of resentment, pebbles of hurt, nasty roots of bitterness, and weeds of remembered wrongs. Fertile soil can’t mingle with contamination and bear fruit- we must rid of the bad to make ready the good. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Hebrews 12:15; 1 John 1:7-9; 2:5-6).
Love also grows when we study and absorb the love of Christ. Learn His ways and methods of selfless asking, unrushed timing, patient discussion, speaking truth with love, humbly laying down His life. Bask in the limitless measure of His love, allowing it to sink deep, lift high, and hold tight, then begin to express that love in like measure. Acknowledge and thank Him for His tenderness, mercy, and lavish grace, then go and love likewise. (John 4:4-18; 13:1-5,14-15; 15:13; Ephesians 3:17-19; 4:15,32).
Loving brothers and sisters in Christ requires seeing them as God does, and genuinely desiring what is best for them. They are beloved and cherished, with a path marked out by God for His intended works. Loving others well calls me to prefer them over myself, and consider their interests as more important than my own. It can be transforming for both parties, eliciting transformation and promoting spiritual fruitfulness as we support one another to do God’s will. What am I doing or saying in love to encourage or free another to fulfill God’s calling and purpose? To pass along His counsel and wisdom? To refine in godliness and purity, or check error that could lead to harm? (Proverbs 27:6,9,17; Isaiah 43:4,7; Ephesians 2:10; Philippians 2:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14,16-17)
What are specific ways I can love others as Christ has loved me? What one act of humble service, forgiveness, graciousness, consolation, burden-bearing, practical help, will I do this day in Christ’s name, for His sake? How can I contribute to building up the Body by multiplying my love for and among it?
Lord, root and ground me in love, striving with me to comprehend its vastness and power. Teach me to love You, and others, as I ought to love, abounding more and more in ever-increasing measure, to the glory of Your Name. (Philippians 1:9; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)