Walking in the love of Almighty God is vital to real spiritual growth and development.
In fact, you cannot be a spiritually mature individual without loving God with all of your heart and without loving other people as you love yourself. The Lord Jesus Christ said that the two greatest commandments in the entire Word of God is to love.
Matthew 22: 37-39 (King James Version of the Bible)
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”
The reason loving God and loving people are the two great commandments is because they are the foundations of all the other commandments God has given. You simply cannot walk in the fullness of God without living by the law of LOVE.
This is where that we can discern the truly spiritual person from the highly religious. People who have a mere form of godliness cannot operate in the true love of God. Oh, they can pretend for a time, but the real man or woman of God exhibits a pure love which is the mark of the Christian. It cannot be mistaken, for it may go through trials and tribulations, persecutions and afflictions, and yet, it will emerge victorious, loving the offenders as if they never did anything. Real love is truly unmistakable.
God’s love is already within the heart of every born again believer. Notice the following verse of Scripture from God’s Holy Word.
Romans 5:5 (King James Version of the Bible)
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
So we already have His love within. This is one of the proofs that we have really experience the new birth from Heaven.
1 John 3:14 (King James Version of the Bible)
“We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”
Notice what the apostle John is saying in this passage of Scripture. He says that we know, not we guess or we hope, but we know that we have passed out of the realm of (spiritual) death, (which is separation from God and His Holy Nature), unto life, (which is the very Nature of God), because we love the brethren.
So love then, is the distinguishing mark of the true Christian, of the spiritual person. Love is, after all, a spiritual force. Real love is spiritual, not natural. Real love is like God, unchangeable, for God is Love and He never changes. (1 John 4:8, Malachi 3:6)
This is the reason God can command us love people and treat people as we would like for them to treat us. This is why we are told to love our enemies, blessing and speaking well of those who curse and speak evil of us, and doing good to those who despitefully use us and persecute us. (Matthew 5:45-48)
He has already deposited His Nature, which is love, inside of us, in our spirits. Understand that the new birth changes us and gives us the ability to live in the spirit. We have His love, His ability to love as He loves, regardless of how others may treat us. We can love them and through that Divine love, show them how good God is. His love in us is the light that must shine so that men may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven.
How does this love behave, you may ask? What are its characteristics?
The Word of God gives us the answer. But let us settle this matter right now. What God says in His Word is right, whether we agree with Him or not. He is right. So whatever He says love is and however He says that true love behaves is just how love is and how it behaves. He is right. Settle that in your soul.
Here is the God’s description of the characteristics of real love:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a(King James Version of the Bible)
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; Charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth:”
Now let us look at the same passage of Scripture from The Amplified Bible:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a (The Amplified Bible)
“Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealously, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail. Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end].”
This is the character of love. This is how true love acts. Love is pure. Love is tender. Love is clean. God is holy. God is love. So love, real love is holy.
Real love for a person will never cheat on him or her or betray the trust of the prson loved. Real love will not lie to people. Real love does not commit adultery, in the mind or in body. Real love is holy.
Now, remember the great commandment given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Notice that, according to Matthew 22:37-39, we are told to love the Lord our God with our whole heart. As it pertains to loving the Lord our God with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength, the absolute proof of loving God is obedience. Jesus said so:
John 14:15 (King James Version of the Bible)
“If ye love Me, keep My commandments.”
The Master goes further and says that the one who loves Him will keep His commandments.
John 14:23 (King James Version of the Bible)
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My Words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
So, according to Jesus, the proof of love for God is obedience to God.
This is vital to understand because I have found that there are times when temptation comes strong, attempting to sway and move us away from God’s plan and purpose for our lives, trials which pull at our flesh and tries to make us sin against Him Whom our soul loves, and the only thing that keeps us steady and focused on our God is our love for Him. Because we love Him more, we do not yield to sin. Because we love Him more we do not allow our bodies to do things which displease Him. Because we love Him more, we forgive those who wrong and offend us, where before, we would have probably attempted to hurt and injure them.
We obey Him because we love Him. And we love Him because He first loved us. (1John 4:19)
Now let us settle the matter: The only proof of love for the Lord is obedience to Him. A person who does not seek to obey Him does not love Him, no matter what he or she says. It is that simple. Our love for Him is only revealed through the doing of His Will, even if it conflicts with our own.
If God says that we are not to be involved in homosexuality or adultery or sex outside of marriage or stealing, my proof of love for Him would be to obey Him regardless of how my flesh may want those ungodly deeds. If I love God more I will buffet my body, and make it submit to God’s Will above my own. Again, this separates the real spiritual person from the religious. People who call themselves spiritual, and yet, will not or cannot obey God’s Holy Written Word must check up on their relationship with God. You cannot be truly spiritual walking in diobedience to God. Being spiritual is being a doer of the Word. And we will do His Word if we really love God. The proof of love is obedience.
You cannot have an intimate walk with the Creator, while at the same time practice things which He has never approved of, still does not approve of and will never approve of. God is UNCHANGEABLE. He does not change. Things which He condemns and says are wrong are just that, wrong.
I know that I may be hitting a nerve, but there are many who live by a deceptive notion that as long as they aim to be a good person, God will accept them for who they are and what they are. Please listen to me very carefully, before you find yourself at the Great White Throne Judgment Seat of God facing the One Who will judge all. God will not be mocked. He has given us His Holy Word to show us what He approves of and what He does not approve of. It would be to your advantage to search His Word and live your life by His principles. If you do not choose to do things His way and live by His standards it will be you who will suffer.
Let us now look at walking in the love of God toward each other. The Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior gave us the following command. As another preacher said, this is not a suggestion. It is a command.
John 13:34-35 (The King James Version of the Bible)
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have love you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Love is the distinguishing mark of the Christian. This is the way of the truly spiritual person. It’s not just a matter of how high you can jump, or how much you can shout. After the running, jumping and dancing (all of which are good, godly and proper in their rightful places), how is your love life? Are you walking in love (patience, kindness, forgiveness, seeking the blessing and welfare of others etc.), with everyone? Your light is shining when you show people the love of Christ.
We are not only commanded to love each other, but to love one another as Christ loved us.
As I aforesaid, love is a spiritual force. So it is impossible for anyone to be spiritual without making love our focus and main aim in life. Love needs to become the major issue of our lives, love for God and love for the people who God loves. We need to come to a place where everything we say and all that we do comes from a heart’s desire to be a blessing and help to other people. In other words, we must eliminate selfishness from our lives.
This is the difference between the person who knows Jesus intimately and the one who is not born again. People who do not have the love of God within are selfish. They really live for themselves. Even when they do something good, supposedly for the benefit of others, they have to let the cat out of the bag (in other words, they must broadcast it and let others know what they are doing or have done) so that they can receive some praise, glory and accolade of men, fleeting glory which will pass away. (For more about this, please read my book, Humility and the Honor of God)
But people who really love others with the God kind of love do not look for praise from men. And even if people speak well of them, they give all of the glory to the One they represent, God.
Love is not self-seeking.
Well, how can we grow and develop in the love of God? Did I say grow? Yes I did, for love is a fruit of the Spirit. Fruit grows.
The Christian life really goes deeper and deeper because there is no end in God. And each of us starts of as baby Christians, new believers in Christ. We all have to grow up in Christ Jesus and this takes time. How much time, you ask? The answer is a lifetime.
Even after we reach spiritual maturity we will find that there is so much more that we do not know, need to know and have to learn. Life in God is tremendous and deep.
So, as we pursue the life of love, in obedience to our Lord Jesus Christ, we must be patient if we do not get it all perfect right away. This is not an excuse for us to walk in selfishness. Rather, this is aimed as serving as an encouragement as we walk with the Lord, to not allow temporary setbacks to deter us from His purpose for us. For within the realm of the love of God, we will find the call of God, the grace and favor of God, the anointing and power of God, the blessings and inheritance of God in Jesus Christ, the authority of God and intimacy and friendship with God on a level and in a dimension which many have yet to discover really exist.
Below are seven keys to growing and developing in the love of God, which is the apex of the Christian experience:
1. Realize that the love of God is already within you as a born again believer in Jesus Christ. He placed it there in your spirit when you gave your heart to Jesus. So do not ask God to put His love in your heart. Its already there. If we believe God’s Word, which tells us that His love is shed abroad in our hearts by the Blessed Holy Spirit, we will not speak contrary to His Word and we will not pray contrary to His Word. His love is already in us. So do not ask God for it. Believe that His love is where God says it is, within you.
Romans 5:5 (King James Version of the Bible)
“And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed aboard in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”
2. Realize that, as a born from above believer in Christ Jesus, you are a child of God, Who is Love. God is a Spirit. And you are a spirit. It is your spirit that has the very life of God within. God is love. So, your spirit, which is born of God is born of love. Therefore, you are a love child, a child of the Father, filled with His love. So it is supernaturally natural for you to walk in the love of God. This is why, when you do or say things which displease God the Father, or things which hurt others, you become somewhat bothered and irritated on the inside. Your spirit is trying to get your attention and let you know that you are not doing right. You are a love child of a love God. Therefore naturally, your heart desires to love. So develop the awareness that you are a love person, and no longer a person of hate.
1 John 3:14 (King James Version of the Bible)
“We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.”
3. Confess and affirm daily that you are a love child of a Loving God and that you walk in love. The awesome power of words upon the spirit and mind of man is still rarely understood. The Holy Scriptures teach us that death and life are in the power of the tongue and that we will eat of the fruit of our words. (Proverbs 18:21) And, as we have pointed out in the chapter on meditation in the Word of God, God told Joshua to meditate (which means to speak and mutter) in His Word day and night, through which avenue he would observe and understand the Word, so he could do it. The question then should be asked, what does muttering and speaking God’s Word to oneself over and over have to do with our overall success, prosperity and well-being. Why are words so powerful, beneficial and life-changing? Do words really matter? Or is it as some have said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me?
Job said that words can trouble and vex a person and break that person in pieces. (Proverbs 19:1) And the writer of the Book of Proverbs tell us that wrong words could kill a person and right words could positively impact people for good.
Words are influential because they have the ability to shape an individual on the inside into the image and likeness of the words spoken. Let nobody deceive you: words matter, positive or negative. Many of us can attest to this truth. We rise or fall to the level of our confession.
So it is important to speak righteous words, words which have the right effect upon our hearts and minds, so that we transform to the image of those words. Our words need to be based upon the truth of God, rather than past experiences and words of doubt and unbelief.
Agree with God. Agree with His Words. Say what He says. He says that He has shed abroad His love in your heart, by His Holy Spirit. So say what He says. Confess His Word. Say, “I am a loving child of a Loving God. It is natural for me to walk in love, God’s love, toward everybody.” Say this in the morning when you wake up. And say it every evening before you go to sleep. Do this for thirty days and see what an impact it will have upon you. Say it until it comes alive in you, by the Holy Spirit. Say it until you believe it. Then say it because you believe it. It will change the way you think. And with your thinking changed, your behavior will be altered as well.
4. To walk in love, God’s kind of love, you must forgive all who have wronged you in the past, all you wrong you in the present and all who may do you wrong in the future.
I know that some of you are contemplating whether or not you should continue reading at this point. You have suffered wrong from the hands of people. They have hurt some of you in ways that you could not even begin to describe. The wounds and scars you have on the inside have made you hard and bitter against those people or anyone even resembling them. How could you forgive them for what they did to you? How could I even suggest that you do so?
Well, in the first place, I am not suggesting that you forgive. God is not suggesting that you forgive either. He is commanding you to do so. And His commandments are always for your benefit as well as the benefit of others. So do not fight God in this matter. He knows better than you and I. This is really where trust comes in. We must trust Him enough to do what He says. And He says that we are to forgive.
Mark 11: 24-26 (King James Version of the Bible)
“Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against any; that your Father also which is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in Heaven forgive your trespasses.”
According to the above portion of Scripture, forgiveness is necessary, if we are to experience the forgiveness of our Heavenly Father God, and answers to our prayers. We must forgive.
According to Webster’s Dictionary, the word, forgive, among other things, means: to let go. Whatever someone may have done something to hurt you, you have to let it go. Without forgiving others from your heart, you will not progress and develop spiritually.
God so loved us He was and is willing to forgive us if we do things contrary to His Will. Likewise, He expects us to forgive one another, even as He forgives us.
Ephesians 4:32 (King James Version of the Bible)
“And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
According to the Scriptures given above, we are commanded to forgive people and we are also told a truth so serious that it should never be ignored. I have already said it, but I must emphasize it again. I personally believe that it is the greatest reason for unanswered prayer. God’s Word says if we do not forgive and release others for the wrongs they have done against us, we would likewise not be forgiven by the Father as well.
So forgiveness is a must. And if we are going to keep the great command of the Master, and walk in love, we must practice forgiving others even as God for Christ’s sake forgave us, when we gave our lives to the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. To walk in the love of God, we must understand that love, real love, God’s kind of love is not a feeling. This point is vital to perceive. We cannot trust our feelings when it comes to walking in love because our feelings are like the waves of the sea, up and down, in and out. Our feelings will feel one way at a particular time and another way, just moments after. Our feelings are the result of our thoughts. And if our thought life is not under the control of God’s holy Word, our feelings, controlled by thoughts of an ungodly system, will move us to hate, dislike and even curse or speak evil of our fellow man, even if that person is a spouse, friend, or someone of our acquaintance. We must discern the fact that love is not a feeling. Because this reality is yet to be truly understood, marriages; that sacred, consecrated, and holy estate, crumbles and falls apart. Led and moved by feelings we say things that are cruel and inhumane, we do things which at times even defies reason and we act in manners which literally hurts, wounds and crush people, people who at some point or another, we had declared that we loved. Feelings cannot be love, because feelings change. Love is like God. He never changes therefore love never changes. God is Love.
Seeing then, that love is not a feeling, what then is love, I mean real love? Real love is caring for people as God does. It is a deep and genuine caring that bypasses the emotions and controls the emotions. It is a caring which never desires to hurt another. This kind of love and God given ability to really care is what moved the Heart of God to send His Son to pay the awful price for our sins. It is this holy and pure love and caring which is never moved and guided by feelings, but rather is inspired and motivated by its desire to help another, to give to others, to do for others even as the person loving desires to be loved. This is the golden rule: Do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Matthew 7:12) Again I repeat, love is holy.
God tells us in His Word that we are to love our enemies. (Matthew 5:43-45) Now, do you always feel like loving people who wrong you, persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely? Or do you feel like, its time for retribution? Love therefore could not be based upon your feelings of the moment.
So stop depending upon your feelings to express your love to God. Rather show Him that you love Him through obeying Him no matter how you feel. Stop waiting on a feeling to show your wife or husband how much you love her or him. Show your spouse that you care by giving to her or him and showing that special person just how special she or he is to you. Stop waiting on a feeling to show your children godly love and affection. Give them some of your time, attention and wisdom for living.
Don’t wait for a feeling to show people the love of Jesus within you.
Don’t wait to feel love before you begin loving. Love first. Really care first. The feelings will come later.
6. Read 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 in the Amplified Bible. (It was quoted already in this chapter.) Then copy these verses and place them somewhere you are able to view them constantly. Keep God’s Word concerning love before you until His Word renews your mind to love. As I already stated, God’s kind of love is already in you. It is in your spirit. This is the God given ability to care for people even as God does. However, your mind, if it is not renewed in this truth, will lean more toward the fleshy way of dealing with people. The fleshy or carnal way is to do unto others as they do unto you. The way of the Spirit is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is a vast difference.
So, place God’s Word where you can see it continually, until your soul thinks in line with His Word. When your mind is renewed to the path of love and falls into agreement with your born from above, loving spirit, you will be able to love others without even thinking about it. It will simply be you doing what God would do because you are a partaker of His Divine Nature, which is Love.
7. Practice doing the characteristics of love as laid out in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 everyday until those attributes and spiritual attitudes become normal for you to do. God’s Word teaches us to be doers of the Word, and not hearers only. (James 1:22) His Word also tells us to walk in love. (Ephesians 5:2) Therefore, to be a doer of the Word is to walk in the love of God, to love others as God loves us. Practice love until the love nature of God which is within flows effortlessly and produces even in your very flesh the love of Jesus. Love is a spiritual force, which when yielded to kicks in and takes over in your mind and body. Do you desire to be truly spiritual? Then walk in God’s kind of love toward others. Love is spiritual. So loving others is being spiritual in reality.