May the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows (1 Thessalonians 3:12, NLT).
Love can grow or wither.
Recently, I officiated a wedding where I asked those at the ceremony to use their imagination to picture the couple in 30 years. What would they be like? Perhaps gray-haired; if they had raised teenagers, definitely gray hair!
But how about their love for one another?
Is the moment of marriage the high point of love but it withers afterward? Or can love grow and 30 years later be stronger than the day of their marriage?
How about us? In our significant relationships is love growing?
Paul indicates in 1 Thessalonians 3:12 that love can and does grow. How?
It’s necessary to understand what Paul and the other New Testament writers meant when they discussed love. If we understand Biblical love, then we will know how to grow in this love.
The writers of the New Testament had a problem.
The love of God – serving others with no consideration of self, the love that we see in God when He so loved the world that He gave up His Son, and the love that we see in Jesus when He gave up heaven, becoming flesh, and dying.
There was no word in the Greek language for this kind of love. So they invented a new word, “agape.” The Greek word “agape” is the love that Paul writes about in which we can grow.
Consider for a moment “love” in our culture.
Mostly, this love has nothing to do with serving others and considering others better than ourselves. Love written about today, discussed on social media or in songs, is more about romantic lust.
We look at love, our significant others, and our spouse as living up to our expectations. Our romance is about someone fulfilling our desires.
Love can’t grow with expectations because it’s dependent upon others, and we don’t have control over how others think and act. I can’t tell my wife, “I want to grow in love, so you need to be this kind of person so that I can be fulfilled.”
But this is the love taught in today’s culture that doesn’t work. Marriages crash, we gossip, we complain, and we can’t deal with this unforgivable sin of another not living up to our expectations.
Let’s return to the word “agape.”
In “agape,” we love one another, we forgive one another, we serve one another, we bear one another’s burdens, and we encourage one another. All things that we can do!
Agape can grow. We decide to love or not. Let’s not blame others if we don’t find love.
As the Apostle John writes …
We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So, we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters (1 John 3:16).