“Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
“You *&*!!” the man yelled at me with every ounce of anger and verbal venom he could muster. “I’m going to blow your brains out.” No, I wasn’t dreaming. It was all too real. But thank God impenetrable prison bars separated me from the man who wanted to kill me. I stood talking to him a little more about the Lord, then left. With love in my heart, and, admittedly, a bit shook up!
“You want to kill yourself? Then go in the other room, get the gun from under the bed, and blow your brains out,” the man raged at me with pure hatred. I wasn’t dreaming. It was years earlier, there were no bars separating me from the man, and this was my then husband. In his addictions, brokenness, and verbal abuse, in response to the poor, prideful, wrongful way in which I responded to his sins with my own, he hated me. I stood a little longer NOT talking to him about God because I barely knew Him, then left. Filled with fear, anger, bitterness, self-pity, judgment, condemnation, hurt, and hatred. He left and divorced me. I ended up forgiving and loving him courtesy of Christ.
I hated people who hated, hurt, rejected, abused, and abandoned me, and let me down, etc. I hated people who hurt others. I loved those I wanted to. I loved people when I felt they deserved my love. Then I jerked away my love when they let me down. Sometimes I just wasn’t in the mood to love. Love was a commodity I figured I should be in control of. It was mine to do as I pleased with. And, oh, yeah, I loved God when I was in the mood. When I felt like He was good to me. Then I pulled my love away. I obeyed Him when I felt like it. Sometimes I felt too broken and hurt to love Him and others. Sometimes I just didn’t feel like loving God and others.
Paul told believers in Christ to “INCREASE AND ABOUND” in love. For whom? Just each other? No! Everyone! Just when they felt like it? No! Just a little? No! Abound implies to overflow! With our human love? In our strength? No! He said GOD WOULD MAKE this happen! It’s God’s love in God’s strength! Our job is to yield to God as He teaches us to walk in His love! Why? God sets Christ followers apart to teach us to love and serve Him, to teach us His ways and transform us into His image as He readies us for eternity with Him, and to love others and proclaim Christ to them so they are drawn to find and follow the Lord forever!