God is love. The defining characteristic of a Christian is love. We are called to love God and to love others. As we grow spiritually, we should be growing deeper in love. Jesus came to teach and show us how to live. Jesus loved everyone always, and this is our call as His disciples. As we grow in our love for God, we will grow in our love for others. Are you growing in your love for God and your love for others? Let’s commit to growing deeper in our love in 2021 and beyond.
Defined by Love
What would be a few words that those closest to you would describe you as? What about those that you have met for the first time? This may vary depending on the person or, if we’re being honest, the mood we are in that day, but as Christians, above all, LOVE should be the defining characteristic of our lives.
Ultimately, our love for God and for others should permeate all that we do, and the world – our friends, non-Christians, those we meet for the first time – should see that we are set apart. We’re different from the world around us because God’s love has changed us, inside and out. It’s more than just following a command to love, more than just reading God’s Word and knowing how we should act. It’s a life change, an all-around transformation built on our faith and love for Jesus.
Does love define your life?
What the Bible Says about Growing Up in our Faith
In Matthew 22, the Pharisees and Sadducees ask Jesus what the most important, the “great,” commandment is. These church leaders were known for being obedient to the rules and laws found in the Old Testament. As Jewish leaders, they thought that it was through the law and their obedience to it that they would be deemed “better Christ-followers” and better Jews. In asking this question of Jesus, their intention was to test Him, to catch Him in asking a question that would stump Him or that He would answer incorrectly.
Jesus responds with this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like: "Love your neighbor as yourself." All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments. (Matthew 22:37-40). Though this may not have been the answer that these leaders were expecting, it’s now an answer that Christ-followers everywhere build our life and love for others on.
The action verb found in these verses is that very word – LOVE. Many commands are important and essential for us to obediently follow as Christians; however, these two are the ones that Jesus chose to make up the Great Commandment. He takes the 613 laws found in the Old Testament, all of the laws that the church leaders followed, and boils them down to just two. It’s about love.
“All your heart, soul, and mind” means your everything. This passage points us to the importance of growing in our love for God and for others, as well as in our understanding of how much God loves us. This Great Commandment is meant to undergird all that we do as Christ-followers.
What is the Next Step in growing in love – for God and for others?
Loving others like yourself is a high standard. Most of us love ourselves a whole lot – and it comes easily to us! However, this is the standard that Jesus gave to us. He gave this standard and command so that we would know how important love is. It’s not something that we’ll “accomplish” or be able to check off of a list once we’ve finally done it right. Rather, it’s something that we can grow in daily.
At Rolling Hills, we often talk about taking a Next Step in our faith journey. This can look different for each Christian, depending on where we’re at in our faith with Christ. Regardless of what that step may be, it’s time for us to move forward in our faith. Growth begins when we make a commitment to intentionally changing or improving a habit or behavior. For all of us, spending time with God daily is either our Next Step or a step we must continue doing. We’re talking about growing in our love, and this is one step we can all take to begin to do that. It’s through our time in God’s Word and in prayer that God changes our heart and grows our love for Him and others.
First and foremost, however, we have to understand how much God loves us. His love for us is beyond any love we could ever fully comprehend, but, as we spend time with Him and focus on loving Him and loving others, we can grow to truly grasp God’s unconditional, beautiful, and all-consuming love for us. His love changes our hearts, and His love gives us the ability and capacity to love those in our lives.
What’s your Next Step in growing in love? Don’t wait – start taking that first step towards growing in love today. Our God is faithful to help us to grow, mature, and develop in our faith day by day.