BY KENNETH HAGIN JR.
Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament Law and gave the New Testament Church one new command – to love.
The Word of God instructs us how to fulfill this command and how to grow in the God-kind of love.
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you. 1 Thessalonians 3:12
God desires for you to grow in your love walk. You must understand that the God-kind of love is something that you grow in; it just doesn’t happen. Love grows when it’s cultivated, much like a garden grows. In a garden, you have to take care of the plants or they won’t grow properly.
Have you ever planted tomatoes? Do you just go outside, stick the tomato seeds in the ground, and walk off and leave them until harvest time? No, you take care of those tomato seeds by watering them and doing all the things that are necessary to produce a good tomato crop.
If tomatoes or any other plants are going to grow properly and become what they should be, they have to be taken care of and cultivated. In much the same way, if the God-kind of love within you (Rom. 5:5) is ever going to develop, it is going to have to be taken care of and cultivated. In other words, there are certain things you can do to help your love grow.
Number one, to grow in love, you must think with love.
8 … whatsoever things are LOVELY … of good report … THINK on THESE THINGS.
When it comes to thinking the proper thoughts, many people are negligent. Instead of thinking on things that are lovely, it’s easier for them to dwell on thoughts such as, I’m this way because of what has
happened to me – because of what someone else did to me. For them, it’s much easier to blame somebody else for their present situation than it is to do something about getting themselves out of that situation.
It may be somebody else’s fault that you’re in the position you’re in, but it’s your fault if you remain there! God has given you the power, the ability, and the authority to rise above those circumstances that cause you problems.
You’ve got to change how you think. To increase your love, you must replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. Study the Word of God and then replace the negative thoughts with Scripture.
As a Christian, you are not supposed to dwell and think on negative things. This is a challenge, because your mind is in constant contact with this world. And the devil, the prince of the power of the air, will make sure that the mass-media news reports dwell on the bad news. Although it’s not wrong to hear news reports, God’s Word says that our meditation and thoughts should be taken up with things that are pure
and lovely! If you do not change your thought processes, you will never grow in love.
You must think with love even when someone has wronged you. For example, when you see a person who has wronged you, don’t dwell on or even think about the wrong he did and the harm he may have caused.
Those thoughts will come to your mind the very instant you see or think about that person. But you have to resist them because those thoughts will only hurt you, not the other person. And they will hinder you in
your walk with God.
You might need to become like the fellow who never said a bad word about anybody – he always found something good to say! His neighbors wondered what he would say about the bad guy in town who had recently passed away. No one could find anything good at all to say about this mean fellow who had died.
Some of the people in town were talking about the man who’d died. Finally, this gentleman who’d developed his love walk, spoke up and said, “Well, he did have pretty eyes, didn’t he?” He thought about it
long enough to find something positive to say about this mean man!
You may have to think a long time, but find something positive to say about others, even those who have wronged You. You must think with love.
Number two, to grow in love, you must look with love.
In Luke 19:41, it says that as Jesus beheld the city of Jerusalem, He wept. Jesus realized the people’s plight and their future, and He wept because they were not repentant and there was nothing He could do to
change it. Jesus Christ looked on people with compassion (Matt. 9:36).
Just seeing the people with His physical eyes was not what moved Jesus with compassion. In a sense, Jesus looked through their faces. He looked beyond their bodies. He looked past the crowd into the hearts of the individuals, and He saw the sin, sickness, and pain. He was moved with love to minister to their needs.
To grow in love, we need to look at others with compassion and forgiveness, even when they miss it and sin. We must not look with disdain and say, “Well, I don’t understand them. If they were in the Word like they should be, they would not have done what they did. They would not have made that mistake.”
That may be true, but the fact remains that the mistake was made. So what are you to do about it? Are you going to look on the mistake with a disdainful, judgmental attitude, or are you going to look at the situation with the attitude of Paul?
1 Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual I restore such an one in the SPIRIT OF MEEKNESS; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
When someone misses it and sins, you should first of all think, If I were in this position, how would I want to be treated? You would want people to show you compassion, love, mercy, and forgiveness, would
It’s strange to me that a person ‘who has sinned can ask God for forgiveness, receive it, and be restored to fellowship with God (I John 1:9), yet many Christians won’t forgive him. Unless love is cultivated in the lives of those Christians, they cannot show the love of God to others.
As a Christian, you have the love of God shed abroad in your heart, so let it out! Show it to others! Don’t be calloused, cold, and indifferent. Learn to look with love.
Number three, to grow in love, you must hear with love.
17 The righteous cry, and the Lord HEARETH, and delivereth them….
Christ is our Example in love and we are to follow His example and walk as He walked (Eph. 5:1,2). According to Psalm 34:17, Jesus Christ listens to you when you cry and call out to Him. He hears and answers, with love.
What do I mean by ‘hear with love”? When you bear with love, you do not listen with a condescending attitude. AO not listen with an attitude, Well, if You would just read the Bible and do what’s right, you wouldn’t be in the Do you know someone others are always going to with their problems? He or she probably isn’t a professional counselor but perhaps a friend or coworker. You can probably think of several
people you know who are good listeners and to whom others like to tell their troubles.
Have you ever wondered why people go to certain people with their problems? One reason is, they perceive that those people know how to hear with love.
But too often instead of listing with love, some Christians only half listen to others’ problems. They sit there wishing they could be somewhere else! But that attitude will be apparent others will pick up on it. To hear with love is to listen fully and hear what someone else is really saying.
When, people talk to you about their hurts, and your reply is indifferent or uninspired by the Holy Spirit, instead of bandaging the hurt you’re pouring salt into the wound.
I remember when I was just a little boy, after a summer rain, the sun would bake the old blackland soil of north-central Texas, making a hard crust on top. Grandpa and Grandma would go down the rows of their
garden, loosening the soil around the plants so it would not become hard. Then when it rained again; instead of hitting a hard surface and running off, the water would soak into the ground and the plants would receive enough moisture.
If a person becomes hardened in his heart, the cries of others for help will just sort of “run off” his heart and never penetrate. Like the old, hard, sun-baked clay, his heart cannot show love or give the help that is needed, and before he knows it, his love “dries up.” If you want to Grow in love, learn to hear with love.
Number four to grow in love, you must speak with love.
1. A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
Too many people speak the wrong words. They are critical of everybody and everything. We need to be careful to speak the right words. Words are containers. They are either filled with faith, hope, love, and
mercy–or they’re filled with hate, doubt, fear, and failure.
The words you speak can either cause a person to rise to his full potential spiritually and naturally to become a success in life, or they can cause a person to fail.
If someone you know messes up and makes a big mistake, don’t fill your words with condemnation; fill them with love, compassion, and mercy based upon the Word of God. And with your words, usher that person back into fellowship with God and the Body of Christ rather than rejecting him.
People make mistakes, but too often rather than coming to the Church to receive help, many run from the Church. Why? Maybe it’s because they know how other people have been treated when they missed it and the words that were spoken to them.
The Bible tells us to edify, encourage, and exhort each other. If you want to grow in love, you must speak with love.
Number five, to grow in love, you must labor in love.
1 THESSALONIANS 1:3
3 Remembering without ceasing your WORK of faith, and LABOUR of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ….
A literal translation is, “Remembering without ceasing your operative faith, laborious love, and a hope-filled patience.” The person who fully understands love will have faith that works and patience that
You may want something now, but there are some things you have to work for. My dad used to tell me, “Son, if it’s worth having, it’s worth working for.” The blessings of God are not just going to fall on us.
You have to work for things that are worth having in your life, such as an effective love walk. You must cultivate those things and be patient while they grow and develop.
For example, you don’t plant tomato seeds one week and then the next week say, “There aren’t any tomatoes on this vine; this plant is worthless!” and just rip it out of the ground.
No, you have to labor over that plant, fertilizing and watering it. Then one day, a little, round, green tomato appears. And you continue to work with it until it reaches maturity.
Labor in love. Christ’s work was a labor of love. He comforted those who were bereaved. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and forgave sin.
Your love will grow when you learn how to smile and speak kind words to others – when you learn how to do good deeds and give of yourself. Love is not just giving your finances, but it’s giving your time and
your shoulder to cry on. Love is giving someone a ride when it takes you out of your way. Love is giving of yourself and your resources when it’s a labor of love to do it.
Number six, to grow in love, you must walk in love.
1 Be ye therefore followers of God as dear children:
2 And WALK IN LOVE, as Christ also hath loved us, and HATH GIVEN HIMSELF for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savoir.
To walk in love as Paul described it is to give of yourself so that somebody else can be blessed.
For example, many people give to food pantries and clothing drives, which is good. But too often people only give their junk! That’s not walking in love. A general guideline to follow is, if you would not use it, don’t give it to somebody else! When you walk in love, you give your best – you give of yourself.
Paul said we are to walk in love as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us. Jesus Christ gave His life for you. What have you given to Him?
Through God’s Word we see that love is everything; you are nothing without love.
1 CORINTHIANS 13:1-8 (Amplified)
1 If I [can] speak in the tongues of men and [even] of angels, but have not love … I am only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I have prophetic powers… and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have (sufficient) faith so that I can remove mountains, but HAVE NOT LOVE
… I AM NOTHING….
3 Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned … but have not love … I gain nothing.
4 Love endures long and is patient and kind; love is never envious nor boils over with jealousy; it is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
5 It is not conceited – arrogant and inflated with pride; it is not rude (unmannerly), and does not act unbecomingly. Love [God’s love in us] does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not
self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it – pays no attention to a suffered wrong. It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
7 Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances and it endures everything [without weakening].
8 Love never fails – never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end….
God has placed a high value on love. God wants you to grow in love, and He has given you His Word to instruct you how to cultivate love in your life and to bear much fruit.
Just as you would cultivate a garden in order for it to grow, you must also continue to cultivate love if you want it to grow. You must cultivate it so that your heart does not become hardened. Make sure that there is nothing present that is going to drain the strength of the love you’ve planted or that is going to choke the life out of the love that’s in your heart. Continue to give your seeds of love everything they need to thrive and grow.
When you put these principles into action in your life, you will begin to grow in God’s love – and continue to grow in love!
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY THE WORD OF FAITH, FEBRUARY, 1996, PAGES 14-17. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.