Increase in Love

We have all heard the scripture Love covers a multitude of sins. I love the way The Passion Translation puts it:
“Above all, constantly echo God’s intense love for one another, for love will be a canopy over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8(TPT)

The commentary goes on to say that the Greek verb echo can also mean to maintain, to possess or keep. To be so closely joined to something that you become its echo – in this case, we join ourselves so closely to God’s love that we “echo” his forgiving, fervent love toward one another.
Peter is saying – be so closely joined to God’s love that we echo Him – and He has fervent love towards us.

Can you imagine what our lives, our churches, our homes and our world would look like if just the Body of Christ would begin to imitate this scripture? What if we truly loved like Jesus loved? I imagine the multitude of sins we would cover would include petty jealousies, offenses, hurts, wounds, anger, etc. Wow, can you imagine a Body of Christ that truly operated in love and when one of us fell short, the other covered their fallen comrade in love? (after all it IS the goodness of God that draws to repentance!)

The Bible says in John 15:13 “For the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all. And this great love is demonstrated when a person sacrifices his life for his friends.” (commentary – willingly lays down his soul for his friends. And we know that the soul is our mind, our will and our emotions)

Wow – The Bible is saying that the greatest love of all is a love that sacrifices all and is demonstrated when we willingly lay down our own soul; our mind/thoughts, our will/actions and our emotions/feelings. What a picture this paints! People truly laying down their feelings for another!

There is no greater sacrifice in the history of humanity than that of Jesus. We hear a lot about the physical beating He took, and rightly so, but what about the soul He had to lay down? I mean, did He not have a case? He was INNOCENT! He had the right to plead His case. He had the right to call 10,000 angels, but He didn’t. He chose love and chose to obey His Father. He had a right to defend His character, let alone His life! What about all the emotions He was feeling? Can you imagine? He could have established His indignity, His innocence, His anger, the betrayal, the lies, the injustice! Yet, He laid down His right and remained silent. Leaving His fate in His Father’s hands. He was totally left alone to face this battle. None of His friends stayed with Him, none of His disciples, even His family could not fully go with Him. None of us have ever been demanded to lay down all that He did, yet, most of us have trouble laying down even our opinion at times.

This got me to thinking about the love chapter and what it says. As I read it, I thought, what if, instead of focusing on the sin around us, and the negative things going on in this world, and our perceived injustices and rights, what if we turned our focus to the good things? What if we purposed to increase in love – the God kind of love? What if we set ourselves in agreement with the most famous words on love found in 1 Corinthians 13.

Here it is in the Passion Translation:

Love, the Motivation of Our Lives
13 If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.
2 And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.
3 And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.

The Bible is saying – it matters not if we have eloquent speech! Is there love behind our words? I used to tell my kids, “You can be right, but if the delivery is wrong, no one will hear you!” Love must be our motive! God’s love! For His love is pure and undefiled. The word is also saying even if we are prophetic and have great understanding, filled with a faith that can move mountains – MOVE MOUNTAINS, if we have not learned to love we are NOTHING. Let’s continue:

4 Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. 5 Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. 6 Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. 7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.

Let’s break verses 4-7 down:
Do you find yourself short on patience? Increase in love. Do you find yourself harsh and unkind? Increase in love. Do you find it hard to celebrate someone else’s success when you are hoping for the same thing? Increase in love. Do you find yourself always having to talk about what you have achieved? Increase in love. Are you disrespectful, selfish, easily irritated? Do you seek honor or offend easily? Increase in love. Do you celebrate honesty? Find no delight in wrong? If not, Increase in love. Do you celebrate honesty? Find no delight in wrong? If not, Increase in love. Do you have a hard time believing the best for others? When you experience failure, do you accept it as defeat and give up? Increase in love. The answers to all these shortcomings is to INCREASE IN LOVE!

We all may not identify with all of the above, but all of us can identify with some or at least one of the above. Even if for the most part you ARE walking in love, you can never have too much love, if it is the God kind of love!

So, how do we increase our love? Love is a choice. We must choose to crucify our thoughts, our ways, our attitudes, our emotions and march them to the cross of Christ. Wait! That sounds like laying down our life (soul/mind/will/emotions) for our friend doesn’t it? We increase in love, when we decrease of ourselves and prefer others. When we choose to be kind rather than angry or ugly, when we choose grace rather than wrath, we are choosing love! When we deny our flesh a fit of rage, and instead extend grace, we are choosing love! We are laying down our rights for those of another! We are increasing in love!

When situations come that easily irritate us, or would like to offend us, or cause us to be jealous, inferior, disrespectful or selfish, we MUST choose to lay down our right to be right and choose love. Think about it – ONLY Jesus had the right to be right. Only Jesus was sinless. Yet, He gave Himself for us, became our sin, took our punishment and laid down all His rights for us. He chose to die for us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He preferred us. He chose love.

Most of us will not have to die physically for our faith, our brothers, sisters, or friends. But, I don’t know anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to die emotionally to a situation. Most of us get that opportunity daily! And of course, Jesus died for us spiritually so we don’t have to! The least we can do is die to our soulish desires!

The last verse in this chapter says, (and I paraphprase) after gifts and words are forgotten – there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.

Let love be the beautiful prize for which you run! Why? Because God is love! (1 John 4:8)

What if we made love our prize daily… What if we get up and say “Today, I will run after love!” What would that look like?

I want to encourage you to take some time and meditate on the love chapter. Ask the Lord to show you areas where you need more love in your life. Purpose in your heart to increase in love. I can’t think of a better way to be like Jesus than to be full of His love. Will you join me in this prayer?

Father, we come before You and we admit and repent that we have not always operated with love as our motive. Lord Jesus, You were tempted in every way, yet without sin, so You know the struggles we face daily! It is not easy to die to emotions and feelings, and desires, yet it is possible. Help us, by the power of Your Holy Spirit to choose love in our daily walk. Help us to prefer others. Help us to lay down our right to be right. Show us ways where we can increase in love. Show us how to show honor and extend grace. Show us how to be Your hands and feet on the earth. Help us to increase in Your love, to choose Your ways. Help us make our world, and the world a better place by increasing in the love of God. And as we stay in You, and in Your word, and pray in the Spirit, I know You will help us and empower us to walk this out! Thank You for first loving us. In Jesus’ Name. AMEN!