Spiritual Growth

Living in the “One Anothers”

The topic of our weekend retreat was “Abiding” and I was going to be speaking over three days to a group of women from the church we have called home for almost two years now.  As I sat praying and searching the Word for inspiration and wisdom, God led me to 1 John 4 where we are shown the fruit of abiding.  One of the fruit mentioned is “you will love one another.”  I paused.  “God, abiding in You actually produces love for others?”  Yes.  All of a sudden I felt inspired to look up all the “one anothers” of scripture and see what it was God was really calling us to as He promises we will love one another and also commands us to do so.  My heart was open as I looked over each one.  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?

I don’t have to tell you there is no human way to encapsulate all the “one anothers” in one blog post.  I’ll just brush over the gist of it and then I’ll tell you a cool little story.

Love

Love one another as He loves – as He has shown us how to love by His love – with increasing love – deeply, from the heart.

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 the amonia to our bleach – which is: toxic}.  As hard as this sounds, I don’t think we get a pass.  Imagine standing, like the little child who has taken candy out of the jar, and only shows one hand, while holding a fistful behind her back.  We ought not hold back from God.  Love deeply – from the heart.  How can we possibly do this?  When we are dealing with really fun, interesting, attractive, lovely people, who, by the way, find us amazing, it is a no-brainer.  However, when a person isn’t friendly or kind or just doesn’t gel with us for whatever reason – this is the place we need Jesus.  How do we muster up His love?  We don’t.  The answer is we abide.  Think of yourself as a sponge in a pool of God’s love for you.  You soak it up til you are dripping.  Then you can’t help but drip that love out over everything around you.  God’s love drips out of you when you soak it up. 

So, soak it up sister.

sponge

Live humbly – honoring one another above yourself – be gentle, patient and forgiving of one another – submit to one another in love.  

Once again with Jesus, the way up is down.  We go higher as we stoop lower.  He, the Creator of the universes stoops to bless us.  He comes to earth to take on human form only to die a criminal’s death for us.  He instructs us to follow after Him.  We are to take up our own crosses – painfully putting selfishness and self-interest to death.  We allow Him to guide us and teach us His way.  On my own I am very impatient, sometimes not so gentle when upset and completely unable to forgive.  Yet, when I am secure in His love, I learn to release, exude gentleness and last, but not least, I have patience.  It is because I am secure in Him I don’t have to strive for position or recognition.

As for forgiveness, we can forgive only when we remember the great need we have to be forgiven.  We stand side-by-side with the person who harms us and we see them at the foot of the cross in need of grace and we know ourselves to be in the same boat.  Then we can fairly extend what we can’t give when we feel “slighted” or “right.”

cross

Accept one another – do not judge

For some of you this is a cinch.  You aren’t wired with a judgmental bone in your body.  For others of us who were either reared in critical homes or who hold high standards for ourselves and others, we struggle.  Can you hear the pride in that?  It’s just plain ugly.  Pride creeps in as a positive feeling and ends up making us think we are somehow better than or have the right to look down on what another person is doing or thinking.  We probably judge our family members most severely because we need them so much.  If you are married, your husband may get the brunt of this.  He doesn’t do things the “right way” and he messes situations up that could go better in parenting, budgeting, your marriage, leading you spiritually … on it goes.  God says we are to lay down the gavel and pick up the scales instead.  When I weigh me on one side and you on the other, I finds us both lacking in different ways and both blessed in others.  Our faults my be different, but we both have them.  Acceptance, you guessed it, grows as we abide in God’s love.  When we know we are accepted, we can extend acceptance to others.

PicMonkey Collage

Now for the cool little story …

Sharing with the women over that weekend was sheer joy.  God moved in our midst and we grew as a community and as individuals.  I had set aside my notes so that I could speak from the heart.  I wanted to prepare thoroughly and then let go so God could move and do what He wanted through me.  When I got to the part of the weekend where we were going to talk about the fruit of One Another Love, I felt Him press me – “This.  Don’t miss a drop of this.  I want them to get it all.”  I went over way more during my talk than I was able to share here, and in the end, we all were aware of the call to One Another Love.

We then went took some quiet time in solitude.  I walked up the road and found a secluded spot in a grassy area by an old barn with yellow hills all around me.  I sat with God, reflecting and being refreshed.  As I walked down the road to start the next session, God spoke to me.  I felt Him saying, “Patty, are you devoted in love to these women?”  I was like Peter.  I answered “yes” in an “of course, Lord” sort of way.  He pressed again, “Patty, are you devoted in love to THESE women? I have called you to THEM.”  It struck me between the eyes.  We all have our church of choice – the friends we make who go to all sorts of different churches.  If only we could gather them under one roof, we’d have our perfect church, right?  But God was showing me that His perfect church is the church where He plants us.  It is there we are called to live out these one another loves.  Right where He plants us.  And it all starts with abiding in Him, His Word and His love. 

Soak it up, sister!  … and then go drip that love all over your family, friends and especially in your local church.


I am growing in learning what it means to love like Jesus, and I mess up more than I succeed, which is to be expected.  I’m committed to Him and to what He will do in and through me as I keep learning how to really love with His love.  I have a print out of all the one-anothers if you are interested in it.  Simply subscribe to my email and I’ll send it as a thank you, or leave a comment here and I’ll gladly pass one on to you.  You can also join the conversation on the Hearts Homeward Facebook Page.

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