It is only because HE loves that we are able to love at all.

"Putting on love does not happen automatically.  It is the greatest commandment.  It should be the character quality on which you work the hardest. " Martha Peace, The Excellent Wife

Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.  And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  Colossians 3:12-14

This quote grabbed my attention.

I have spent my entire adult life seeking to "be better."  To improve.  To become more like Christ.   To die to self so I might walk in the Spirit.  Listing my greatest weaknesses in order to work on them one by one in the hopes of turning them into strengths, or at the very least, flaws that no longer controlled me.  And yet, through all of those years it never once occurred to me to focus on only one character quality ... one strength ... one attribute.  And the reason is because I never recognized that almost every character quality really is wrapped up into one - LOVE!

After reading this quote I went back to I Corinthians 13 and was pleased to see that it is true!

Love is ... patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. I Corinthians 13

Our greatest pursuit as believers is to love the LORD with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
And then - we are to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Love IS the greatest command!

And if love IS ... patient, kind, not envious, humble, thoughtful, honest, sincere, and hopeful ... then the author is correct - it SHOULD be the character quality we work on the hardest!  I do not need to keep a list of specific qualities that need attention ... I need to purse LOVE.  Biblical love.  Godly love. A love that would lay down her own life for a friend.  A love that is - everlasting - regardless of the way others treat me.

Love is ACTION.
And above all these PUT ON LOVE, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 

Love is a CHOICE.
It is not natural for us to think of others first, or to seek to serve before taking care of our own needs.  But that is exactly what Jesus did.  So if we want to BE like Christ, we must ACT like Christ. Which means choosing to give up our own selfish desires so we can be attentive to the needs of those around us while continually living out patience, kindness, joy for the successes of others, humility, sincerity, and a desire for truth.

It does not follow, however, that this is EASY to do.  
But anything worth doing almost always requires time, effort, energy - and sacrifice.

And guess what?  We do not have to do it in our own power!  We CANNOT do it in our own power. It is only through the beautiful, continual, and purposeful work of the Holy Spirit that we are able to love others with a pure and godly love.  
And it is only because God loved us FIRST that we are able to love - 
at all.

Lord, thank You for showing me this truth.  How long I have toiled and worn myself ragged to "be better."  When all the while I could have been focused on one thing - the GREATEST thing - Love.
I cannot do it on my own, Lord, because I fail miserably when I seek to mature and grow in my own strength.  But You promise that I can do ALL things through You ... not by my own might but by YOUR power ... if we ask anything in Your name - You will do it.
So here I am, Lord, asking ... asking You to show me how to love.  How to continually put it on, replacing my selfishness with sincere sacrifice, so that I can look like You - instead of me.
You ARE love, Lord.  Make me like You.  Show me how to love.  Make me WANT to love.
And draw me into Your presence every single day so that I can rest in the only love that is perfect, pure, and always abiding ...
the love of a holy and heavenly Father.
My Father.
How blessed I am to be Your child!

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