I was talking to another believer not long ago and we were having a discussion about love. As Christians, we both agreed we individually have a desire to increase our capacity to love others.
Apostle Paul prayed in the book of Ephesians asking God for us this very same thing. Paraphrased, he asked God on our behalf that we might grow into the fullness of love or grow into a greater capacity for love. He shared with the Philippians the essence of his prayer for them and us.
And this is my prayer: that your love may more and more overflow in fullness of knowledge and depth of discernment, so that you will be able to determine what is best and thus be pure and without blame for the Day of the Messiah (CJB)
This is important for Christian believers to understand and apply practically to our lives. Armed with the knowledge of this prayer from Apostle Paul we should begin to stir ourselves. Each of us should ask “how do I know if I’m growing in love?” What are the signs I should look for? Is there a tool somewhere that I can use to help measure love?
In our conversation neither my friend I had an immediate answer to these questions. We decided we would both meditate on them and follow up in another conversation. So I began to look for the answer.
While meditating, the first scripture that came to mind was John 15:12-13.
This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
The word friends is plural meaning more than one. For a point of clarification this scripture is not talking about someone physically dying as some would think. If so perhaps you would get only one opportunity to die and that likely for one friend. So there would be no need for friends to be plural. But here the scripture is talking more about your dying to your own will for the sake of carrying out the will of your friends.
In Philippians 2:1 (MSG) we find an example of just what laying down one’s life for his friends.
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Here Jesus is setting up and example for us to follow. When our friends ask something of us. Are we willing to stop what we are doing and respond affirmatively to their request? This statement is made in the context of the loving and caring relationship not just any other relationship.
Sometime ago I witnessed an amazing example of a man walking out this commandment in his everyday life. This man would not be considered the “religious” type. He was a believer is Jesus Christ but he did not regularly attend church. He had a few personal habits that many believers would frown upon because he both drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes in abundance. Nevertheless, he had acquired an amazing lifestyle discipline that is to be desired.
Whenever he heard his wife call his name, or ask him to do something; within seconds he would immediately stop what he was doing and move towards the sound of her voice to respond to her request. He did this consistently not within minutes but within seconds of hearing her voice!
It didn’t matter what he was doing at the time. He would stop watching sports on TV, reading the news, sitting, eating or whatever he was doing to respond to her. He habitually put his interests aside to meet hers!
Classifying Someone as Friend?
Jesus defines His friends this way. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends,for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
What’s even more interesting is that friends first occupy the positions of servants. Servants then prove themselves to be worthy of elevation to be called friends of God.
In John 15:12-13 we find the biblical answer to our questions and the proven tool to measure our love. This scripture is given as our practical and valid indicator light of whether or not we are growing in love.
The sign of someone being filled with the full measure of love is much like when your car is low on gas and you put gas in the tank. The primary indication or sign that the gas tank is full is when the gas nozzle clicks and shut off. Until this occurs the car’s tank still has room for you to add more gas into it.
In the same sense until you and I lay down our life for our friends; we still have room to be filled with more love. We still have room to put ourselves aside, and help others get ahead. We still have room to not be obsessed with getting our own advantage. We still have room to forget ourselves long enough to lend a helping hand to someone else.
Now how do you measure your capacity for love? Are you empty or full of love? And finally, when we increase our capacity of love, we become filled more with God. How is that? Haven’t you read:
1 John 4:8:
Those who do not love, do not know God; because God is love. (CJB)
(Scripture references from the Message Bible, the Complete Jewish Bible)