Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Discipline of Love

An excerpt from...

The Discipline of Love

Learning to reflect Christ’s character
By Rachel Elwood, Support Staff
July-September 2013

Most of us sane people would admit that something as strenuous as running 26.2 miles takes a certain measure of training. The body is just not naturally inclined to produce that kind of endurance quickly.

It’s the same with practicing the kind of sacrificial love modeled by Christ. There’s no question that we are called to love others, too. A gander through Matthew 25 reveals that distinguishing marks of believers include feeding the hungry, clothing the needy, and visiting the vulnerable. In Mark 21:31, Jesus emphasized the importance of loving and serving our neighbors as much as we would want the same for ourselves. Acts of service are not emphasized for their own sake, but they are to be done out of an attitude of love.

But our fallen nature means we are naturally inclined to be selfish. Without regularly committing to love others, we can easily fall into patterns of behavior toward others that are not Christ-honoring. Loving others as Christ intended takes practice and training.

Luke 2:52 gives us a great “training plan” as a place to start in the discipline of love: “Jesus grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and all the people” (NLT).
We have those four areas in which we can show love: by sharing wisdom and by meeting physical, spiritual, and social needs. But who are we supposed to reach out to? Think about the three primary social circles we all live in: our families, our church or other fellow believers, and non-Christian “neighbors.” Plotted out on a matrix, this creates a nifty guide we can use to brainstorm small expressions of service and love we can do for each of these three groups of people in these four different ways.
The Discipline of Love
Growing in the discipline of love takes commitment, willingness to be guided by the Holy Spirit, and creativity. But the repercussions of us becoming more intentional in loving others are huge! Think of how this world could change if we actually lived what we preached. So what are you waiting for?

Flex your service muscles!Do you need to flex your service muscles? Fill out the Discipline of Love matrix with ideas to show your family, your friends, and your neighbors Christ’s sacrificial love.

Learn more about Disciple Nations Alliance!Visit www.disciplenations.org to learn more about what God is doing through people who are committed to whole-person discipleship and reconciliation around the world.
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