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The Bible provides us with an easy test to determine how well we are cooperating with God’s Spirit in the transformation of our hearts. 

How much do we really love God? The apostle John provides us with the quiz:

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3).

It’s one thing to say that we prove our love for God by keeping His commandments. It’s quite another to say that those commandments “are not burdensome.” For example, you may think that it is very difficult and almost impossible to love your fellow believers as God commands. Maybe there’s one person in particular that you just cannot stand. God still says you are to love that person. “And you’re telling me that’s not hard?” you ask.

The truth is, loving each other as we love ourselves can be very difficult; in fact, it takes a work of God’s Spirit within our hearts. When I have to deal with someone I don’t particularly like, I know I cannot simply say, “I’m just going to love him.”

I’ve tried that. I’ve attempted to reason with myself saying: “He’s not such a bad guy. He may be loud and brash and he says stupid things, but really, he’s not that bad. He’s not horrid. I can tolerate him.” But then this man shows up at our house. As he comes in—loud-mouthed, crude, and saying something stupid—I think, Oh, why didn’t you just stay at home? All my efforts at bringing my mind into a loving state disappear in a tiny puff of smoke.

Yes, it’s true; you are simply incompatible with some people. They’re probably too much like you! It’s amazing how horrible my sins look when someone else is committing them. When I commit them, they don’t seem so bad. But if someone else starts committing them, well, they look ugly and horrible. I cannot stand that person! 

To love others as we love ourselves—which proves our love for God—takes a special work of God’s Spirit within us. We cannot do it. We cannot manufacture agape love. We cannot psyche ourselves into agape love. And that’s why the existence of such love in our hearts provides proof that it’s really from God.

God has given me a love for people whom I could not stand in the natural. When I experience God’s love working in me, changing my heart and transforming my attitude, I know it’s God’s love being perfected in me. Many times I’ve had to pray, “Lord, I know You require me to love this guy—but that’s impossible for me. I cannot do it. But Lord, I want You to work in me and give me Your love for him. I know that I don’t love him, but I know that You do. So give me Your love for him.”

It’s extremely important that we be totally frank with God in these matters because He knows the truth, anyway. Many times we try to con God with our prayers: “Oh God, thank You for this great love that You have given to me for everyone! Now Lord, there’s one fellow whom I’m having difficulty loving with the intensity and degree that I should be loving him. So Lord, increase the intensity of my love.” How phony! When you’re not honest with God, He cannot do anything for you. You need to be straightforward and frank. 

So you say, “God, I hate him. I can’t stand his looks or anything else about him. And so, God, if there is going to be any love flowing toward him from my direction, You’re going to have to supply it. But I’m willing, Lord, for You to do it. Please work within my heart. Take away my hatred and give me Your love. Transform me into the likeness of Jesus.”

When you’re honest, God can work with you and deal with the problem. But so long as you try to delude yourself, you won’t get anywhere. God knows the truth of your heart—and He knows it needs a work of transformation from the inside out.

– excerpted from Love The More Excellent Way by Chuck Smith

continue reading the views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of Calvary Southampton

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