Live in Love  

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"...I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."  Ephesians 4:1-2 NIV 

Nothing is perhaps as challenging for us as to show God's love to people in our life at all times.  Thankfully, God helps us live in love.  He gave us the scriptures, which tell us  how Jesus lived the model life of love.  He gave us the Holy Spirit to tutor us each day on how to love even to the most unlovable people in our life.   

Why is it so important that we live in love?  There are several reasons why living in love is important.  Here are a few of them: 

How well do we understand what true love is?  Paul wrote a practical description of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NKJV:

"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away."

From this passage, we can see that love is:

We also see that love is not:

Practical Exercise:  Here is an exercise to apply the above points on love to the relationships we have.   

Keep this table in your journal and review it periodically to check your progress.  It will take time to tackle the issues you have identified.  Be patient with yourself and continue to ask God to help you.  If there are any forgiveness issues from past wounds, be sure to ask God to help you forgive. 

Obstacle to living in love: Lust 
As you went through your relationships in the above exercise, you probably noticed how your love had been tainted by sin in your life.  In my recovery from sex addiction, I discovered that one of the major corrupters of love was lust.  Lust is basically a combination of delighting in evil and self-seeking.  In fact, lust and love are complete opposites (see lust vs. love).  Where love is giving and selfless, lust is consuming and selfish. 

Pornography uses pictures to convey powerfully false messages that try to persuade us that lust is love.  The more we look at the porn, the more we lose the ability to discern the difference between lust and love.  

Removing the lust obstacle:  We CAN deprogram our minds from lust and relearn love.  This may seem impossible, but with God's help it is possible!  Here are two basic steps we can take:  

  1. Connect with God and ask for healing:  When we connect with the source of true love, we'll receive power to bring our thoughts under control and restore a healthy perception of love.  The most basic way to connect with God is to have a daily quiet time with him and remain in touch with him via prayer throughout the day (Ephesians 6:18).   We certainly should ask God for help in purifying our mind of all the evil things we've filled it with.  A simple prayer for this is:

"Heavenly Father, Please help me get control of my thoughts and bring them into obedience to you.  Please wash my mind with the blood of Jesus and purify my conscience of all my past sins.  Father, please restore a healthy understanding of love in me.  Please teach me how to give and receive love in a Godly way.  Thank you, Father! In Jesus' name I pray, Amen."

If you pray that prayer (or one like it), you can take confidence that God will answer your prayer and help you through the Holy Spirit.  Be patient, though, as the mind purification process usually takes time and persistence in staying tapped into God.  The Holy Spirit will give you the power to change (Romans 8:11,13; 1 Corinthians 6:14).   

  1. Load our minds with God's word and obey his commands:  Loading our minds with the Bible is vital to our forward progress in cleaning up our thoughts.  The Bible gives us definitions of love and many practical applications to help us in recovery.  Daily Bible study in our quiet time is good place to start.   The Holy Spirit will guide us in re-learning love and uprooting the lust-based thinking by reminding us of the word.  We must respond by obeying the Holy Spirit's promptings.  Jesus said, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" (John 14:15 NKJV).  

An analogy I like for this is the Kool-Aid analogy:  If you were to take a pitcher of Kool-Aid and place it under the kitchen faucet, it takes time to dilute the Kool-Aid with the water.  As you continue to add pure water, the Kool-Aid continues to dilute.  Eventually the water in the pitcher is pure and all the Kool-Aid has been removed.  This is how our minds are purified with the word of God. The word is like the pure water added to the pitcher. The Kool-Aid is like the residue of sin in our minds - the evil thoughts and memories of sin that stain our minds.  As we continue to add God's word to our minds daily, the residue of sin is washed away.  Our minds are restored to purity.  

  1. Stop responding to lust-based impulses: This step could be the most difficult of the three, however if we have been faithful in doing the first two, it should not be that difficult.  The problem with lust is that it usually finds a home in our heart because of the pleasure it has brought us in the past.  We hold on to it like a pet.  We protect it, we feed it and we allow it to live in our hearts.  The Bible tells us that the lust must go.  Paul wrote, "But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts" (Romans 13:14 NKJV).  

Don't feed your "lust pet"! Lust must be starved to death.  If you feed it, it will grow stronger; if you don't feed it, it will die.  We can ask God to show us just how ugly our pet sin is - as he sees it.  With that revelation, we'll likely have no qualms about putting it to death! 

Practical Exercise:  

There may be other areas where lust is hiding in your life that you have not yet discovered.   Thankfully, the Holy Spirit is gentle and patient with us.  He will bring things to light in our life as we are able to deal with them.  

Personal Application Questions

Next Page:  Love Your Spouse

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