Who we love, how we love and the way we view love, determines our current circumstances as well as our future endeavors. The people we love will direct our destiny. How we love will build our character. The way we view love will influence our environment.
God wants us to love others and ourselves the way that He loves us. This type of love doesn’t always come naturally, in fact it requires making the right choices and lots of discipline. Loving is hard work, but through obedience to God and spiritual direction, it builds character and grows to be an essential element in our lives.
Love is Developed Through Discipline
There is a discipline to love, which is very important for developing our ability to love. Our capability to love allows us to improve our lives. Proverbs 13:24 talks about how someone who loves another is careful to discipline them. Through discipline, we build self-control and other attributes that help us place other people before ourselves (a significant element of humility). Building selflessness and the ability to see the world through the eyes of God takes discipline.
The average person, one who does not know or love the Lord, loves what God calls the “darkness.” This is the realm of Satan. It is a bleak life full of desires, but never satisfaction. The darkness is wickedness, gloom, sin, immorality and iniquity. Psalm 45:7 says, “Those who love righteousness and hate wickedness are set above their companions.” This means that Christians, people who are disciples of Jesus Christ, hate the darkness and are set above those who do not love the Lord. That doesn’t mean that we should be arrogant because we’re “better than them,” rather it means that we have the ability to discern good from evil and we have a daily responsibility to do so. This involves discipline. We cannot know what is good, versus what exists in the darkness, if we don’t discipline ourselves to see the difference. Therefore, we are unable to love what is right and good, including God, if we don’t discipline ourselves to see what is worthy of our love. When we’re able to choose good over evil, we’ll be led down a very different path than one filled with wickedness.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.
1 John 3:1
Love Involves Choosing a Side and Sticking With it
It’s incredibly important to side with God when it comes to love. Deuteronomy 27:15-26 talks about how God curses those who do not love. Those who choose to live a life of wickedness are cursed because of their own decision to disregard the desire of the Lord. The Lord doesn’t afflict them, quite the contrary: Satan does. Love does not harm, so God (who loves even those who don’t love Him) is unwilling to harm those who choose to follow the ways of the evil one.
1 John 3:21-22 says, “If our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases Him.” When we’re confident in God, He protects us. When we obey the Lord’s purpose for our life, He provides for us. However, if our hearts condemn our own self, because we deny ourselves the love of God or claim that we’re not worthy of this love that He’s given us, we lose our confidence in Him. Our love for the Lord and our love for ourselves builds confidence. Love helps us accept flaws and weaknesses in others and ourselves.
Love is Demonstrated When We Become Disciplined
Our faith in the Lord, and our faith in our self, is a gauge of how well we love. 1 Peter 1 speaks about how our faith must include love among other elements. Our belief in God and acceptance of Jesus should be demonstrated by our love. Faith expresses itself through love. Developing our faith takes discipline as we consistently read the word, routinely attend youth group and church, purposefully connect with likeminded people, diligently memorize scripture, pray and reflect on what God is doing in our lives. As we engage in these disciplines, our faith becomes stronger, we become bolder and more willing to share the truth of Jesus to others in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 says, “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. Do everything in love.”
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-1
Confidence, faith and trust require discipline, and all require love. The two go hand in hand. When we’re challenged to love another person, whether we have a desire to or not, our ability to love them is strongly influenced by our ability to be disciplined. When we can accept someone else’s correction, we’re able to accept them openly and lovingly. When your parents discipline you, or when you struggle with wanting to watch the series premier of your favorite TV show rather than doing your Algebra homework, consider the fact that developing discipline is going to make you better at loving. In all things choose love, and accept the discipline that will make you stronger and better able to distinguish God’s desire for your life. When you’re able to love others more fluidly, your life will be full of ease. When you love God boldly, He will guide your path clearly. When you’re open to understanding the depths of God’s love for you and your ability to love others, you’ll be more confident in who you are and what you’re life is all about.
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.