Christian Love and How to Devote Yourself to It
- Whitney Hopler Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2011 2 Feb
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Larry Kreider & Jimmy Seibert's recent book, The 3 Loves: Loving Jesus, Loving God's People, Loving a Broken World, (Regal Books, 2010).
Many different types of spiritual growth ideas and Christian programs clamor for your attention in our culture today. But you don’t need to develop a complicated strategy to grow in your faith. You simply need to devote yourself to what Jesus says matters most: loving God, loving God’s people, and loving a broken world. Here’s how you can do it:
Realize that spiritual growth comes not by following religious rules and rituals, but by developing a closer relationship with God through Jesus. While religious pursuits may pull you in many different directions, a constant focus on how you’re relating to God will anchor your faith and allow you to grow.
Develop an intimate prayer life so you can enjoy regularly communicating with God and come to love and respect Him more as a result. Make a habit of seeking God every day, listening to Him, developing the attitudes He wants you to have, and taking the actions He leads you take. When you’re regularly spending time with God through prayer, people will see some of His qualities (such as kindness and joy) reflected in you. Use the Lord’s Prayer is a reminder of the many ways to approach God in prayer, from praising Him for who He is and asking Him to provide for specific needs, to confessing your sins and asking for the power to overcome temptations.
Add discipline to your desire to spend time with God in prayer, structuring your life around spending time with Him so it will really happen every day.
Love God’s People
Commit to loving the fellow believers in your sphere of influence by mentoring them in the faith. Invest your time and energy into other people’s lives through discipleship relationships, so that God will reproduce His life among you. Regularly ask yourself: “Who are you intentionally investing in, and how are they reproducing God’s kingdom out of what you’re giving them?”
When mentoring your fellow believers, first get to know them well by getting together for activities that you both enjoy. Then talk honestly together about each other’s spiritual journeys, and be sure to share what wisdom you’ve gained and what mistakes you’ve made in your own faith journey. Pray together regularly. Encourage each other, and hold each other accountable for spiritual growth.
If you’re mentoring people to start serving in a particular ministry, take them along with you as you serve so they can see how you’re putting your spiritual gifts into action. Keep in mind that the investments you make in discipleship will multiply significantly as the people you’ve helped go on to help other people grow spiritually. Remember, too, that you’re bound to face problems to solve and relationships conflicts to resolve, but making a fresh commitment to opening yourself up to God’s love working through you will empower you to deal with it well.
As you relate to your fellow believers, follow God’s guidance to love, forgive, restore, and speak to truth to each other.
Love This Broken World
Make it a top priority to reach out to people in this broken world who don’t yet know Jesus. Build friendships with them, and after you’ve gained their trust, share your faith with them. Help meet their practical needs by serving them, and help meet their spiritual needs by evangelizing them.
Be assured that God will use your efforts to reach people by drawing them to Himself as you faithfully rely on His power working through you to evangelize the people you befriend. Be creative about the ways you reach out to people, taking advantage of all the opportunities God brings to make new friends, from inviting a coworker to lunch to helping a neighbor with yard work.
Start up conversations with people you have contact with regularly but don’t yet know well, such as people who work at your children’s schools and the stores where you shop regularly, and people you interact with online through social media. Be confident that God will use your efforts to reach out to hurting people by working through you to bring them provision, forgiveness, healing, and restoration according to His will.
Expect God to work powerfully in the lives of the people you reach out to on His behalf. Whenever you sense God leading you to share His love with someone in need, don’t hesitate to step out in faith to befriend and serve that person. Know that your efforts matter and that God will respond to your faith by doing much more for people than you’ve imagined is possible.
Every day, keep looking for places where God is at work around you, and seek to join Him in His work to make this broken world a better place.
Adapted from The 3 Loves: Loving Jesus, Loving God’s People, Loving a Broken World, copyright 2010 by Larry Kreider and Jimmy Seibert. Published by Regal Books, a division of Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., www.regalbooks.com.
Larry Kreider is the founder and international director of DOVE Christian Fellowship International (DCFI), a worldwide network of churches and ministries dedicated to advancing God’s kingdom on six continents. He has written more than 30 books, including House to House, The Biblical Foundation Series, Building Your Personal House of Prayer, Starting a House Church and Authentic Spiritual Mentoring. Larry and his wife, LaVerne, have been married for more than 39 years and have four children and three grandchildren.
Jimmy Seibert is the senior pastor of Antioch Community Church in Waco, Texas, and founder and president of Antioch Ministries International. He wrote The Church Can Change the Worldout of his desire to see the local church own the vision of establishing churches throughout the earth. Jimmy and his wife, Laura, have been married for more than 20 years and have four children.
Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor. You can visit her website at: http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/.
Publication date: February 22, 2011