Want to Mature in Christ? Here's What Jesus Says Matters Most

(Photo by Artem Kovalev on Unsplash)

Love.

It's a little word with big implications.

When we were kids in school, teachers taught us that we need food, water, air and shelter to live. But we also need love. Without love, we literally die.

Some years ago, beautiful medical facilities were built to house newborn orphans. They provided the infants with a clean environment, sunlight, healthy food, fresh water, a comfortable bed and fun toys, but the children grew sick and died in staggering numbers. The doctors did research but could not figure out why the healthy children were dying. An outside group was brought in to investigate the crisis.

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Can you guess what they concluded?

The children needed to be loved. They required human contact—to be held, coddled and spoken to multiple times every day. Without love, the newborns failed to thrive and can actually dies.

God made us for loving relationship and human connection. Knowing this, God who created us and knows what we need says over and over in the Bible, in places like 1 John 4:21, "Whoever loves God must also love."

When you tell someone that you love them and mean it from the heart, something profound and priceless has happened in your relationship. Once Grace and I decided that we not only loved each other but that we would say, "I love you," our relationship was never the same.

In the midst of Jesus' ministry, a group of religious folk who were having a bit of a debate asked Him what the most significant section of the Bible is. They wanted Him to give them the boiled-down, bottom-line summary of the entire Old Testament. Since Jesus is the most significant person who has ever lived, and the Bible is the most significant book ever written, Jesus' answer would be most significant. Mark 12:28-31 (ESV) records what I like to refer to as Jesus' "tweet" of the Old Testament.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another,and seeing that He answered them well, asked Him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?" Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: 'The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' 'There is no other commandment greater than these."

According to Jesus, to mature we need to focus on five things:

  1. Love God emotionally with all your heart.
  2. Love God spiritually with all your soul.
  3. Love God mentally with all your mind.
  4. Love God physically with all your strength.
  5. Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.

Living a Spirit-filled life begins with love. That love changes your heart, saves your soul, renews your mind and refreshes your strength. It then spreads to those around you. When the Bible talks about love, it is talking about the very essence of God. The Holy Spirit for all eternity lives in perfect love with the Father and Son. While on the earth, this loving relationship continued as the Holy Spirit journeyed with Jesus like a friend through every moment of every day. Despite being hated by mobs, used by crowds, denied and betrayed by friends, Jesus still had one loving relationship He could always count on—His friend circle with the Father and Spirit. This loving friendship helped Jesus to live in love and have the grace to be loving toward others.

The church father Augustine says something that applies to Christ and the Christian, "Whoever loves already has the Holy Spirit, and by having Him, he becomes worthy of having even more of Him, and the more he has the Spirit, the more he loves." Augustine rightly says that no one can love like God without the Spirit of love.

When we see God's love, we know God's Spirit is the source of that love. For this reason, when the Bible speaks of love, it points to the Holy Spirit as the source of love in Jesus' life and our lives. (See Rom. 15:30; Col. 1:8; 1 Thess. 4:7-9.) Learn to walk in love by walking in the Spirit.

Spirit Filled Jesus coverAdapted from Spirit-Filled Jesus by Mark Driscoll, copyright 2018, published by Charisma House. As Jesus needed help when He was on earth in human form, so do we. This book explores the role of the Holy Spirit in and through His life, and you will receive insight on how this applies to you today. To order your copy, click on this link.

Prayer Power for the week of March 24, 2018

This week, as you seek God and pray in Jesus' name, thank Him for sending the Holy Spirit to be your helper, friend, enabler, love and power source. Surrender to His sovereignty and call on Him to indwell you, empower you and love through you. Continue to ask for more laborers and for world-wide revival. Lift up our nation and pray for its leaders, and for churches to unite in one accord to spread the love of God and bring healing our nation. Read: 2 Chronicles 7:14, Mark 12:28-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:7-9, 1 John 4:7-11.

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