Spiritual Growth

Living in the “One Anothers”

Have you attended a weekend retreat with a group of women?  Recently I spoke over three days to a group of women from the church we have called home for almost two years now.  God planted a seed as I prepared our topic.  He often gives me one word or a simple thought and then over time, He waters it and causes it to flourish.  Our theme was “Abiding.”  I sat praying and searching the Word for inspiration and wisdom.  God led me to 1 John 4 where He describes the fruit of abiding:  “You will love one another.”  I paused.  “God, please teach me how abiding in You produces love for others.”  Sitting quietly, I felt spurred to explore the “one anothers” of scripture.  My heart was open as I looked over each verse.  I reflected on my own life and relationships. 

Do I love the way God has called me to love?  Am I living out His love in my family, friendships, church and the world?

So, I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard people say, “I can love them, but I don’t have to like them,” and I get it.  We will always have people in our lives who are like the oil to our water {or even worse, the amonia to our bleach: toxic as all get out}. 

As hard as this sounds, I don’t think we get a pass.  God calls us to love even our enemies.  Sometimes I know I approach God like the little child who has taken candy out of the jar.  I only show one hand, while holding a fistful behind my back.  Oh, I want to love deeply – from the heart.  Yet, I want to reserve that love for those really fun, interesting, attractive, lovely people, who, by the way, find me amazing.   That kind of “love” is a no-brainer.  However, when a person isn’t friendly or kind or just doesn’t gel with me for whatever reason – this is the place I need Jesus.   Can you relate?

How do we muster up His love when we can’t even stir up a liking for someone? 

Well, the fact is, we don’t.  The only way to give His love is to first receive it – and that happens through abiding.  Think of yourself as a sponge in the pool of God’s love for you.  You soak up love til you are dripping.  Then you can’t help but drip that love out over everything around you.  

So, soak it up sister.

What exactly does this look like – the abiding life?   Jesus modeled for us.  When we abide, we make a home for Him in our hearts – a place we cozy up together, a clearing for the two of us alone.  The experience of abiding can be contrasted with list-keeping and checking off boxes.  Maybe you have been through seasons like I have … making sure I “show up” and “get ‘er done.”  Time in the Word topped my to-do list – as it “should.”  Prayer for others came in close second.  Opportunities to serve got calendared and completed with regularity.  Outwardly, I churched it up.  Inwardly, I lacked security, peace or freedom. 

You know I’m not telling you to skip morning quiet time, stop praying for others or trade in service for more free time to catch up on your recorded shows on Hulu.  Instead, I want to encourage you to look at your “why” and your “how” of abiding.  When I was filling my spiritual resume and checking off my churchy to-do list, my reasons and methods were wonky.  God isn’t calling me to more busyness.  He woos me to Himself.  His purpose simply is to love me and have me receive and reflect that love.  When my time in the Bible, prayer and pouring out into others’ lives is rooted and grounded in Him and His love, I come willingly and leave filled.  

How about you?  What does abiding look like in your life?  Do you struggle with setting time aside to be with Jesus?  Have you focused on drawing near to Him as you go through your day, or do you find yourself relegating time with Him to a to-do list?  I’d love to hear from you about this special invitation to abide and your response.  Comment below or join the conversation at Hearts Homeward on Facebook.  If you want more spiritual encouragement regularly in your inbox, subscribe to my email list.  

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