May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 NIV
At Bible study on Romans, Tuesday, the conversation turned toward caring for others. In some places, scripture is particular about the need for us to love other believers, and yet others, it is more inclusive, love your neighbor. The answer, of course, is like Jesus; we are to do both and love until it overflows.
Love is a common theme in Paul's letters. You only need to read 1 Corinthians 13 to be reminded of how strongly he felt about love's essential role for Christians. His belief undoubtedly came from his dramatic roadside conversion, when he went from persecutor to avid believer. He was also familiar with the stories of Jesus' ministry and his love for all, Jew and Gentile, believers and non-believers.
Although perhaps not as dramatic, we too have experienced conversion and the redeeming power of Christ's love. As his followers, we are to extend that same love to others. Like all families, we may have disagreements with our brothers and sisters and at times find it hard to love them. But we need to move beyond that uncomfortable place, repent, forgive, and keep loving until it overflows. Through our kindness to everyone else, we demonstrate Christ's love at work in our lives. Hopefully, in our actions, they will come to experience firsthand the love of Jesus.
Father God, we give you thanks for your overflowing love for us. Thank you for our conversion through your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for the Holy Spirit that helps us live in love. Forgive us when we have not shown love to each other and everyone else. Please help us continue growing into your love and let it overflow. May we be your instruments of transformation in the world through your love. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.