I came across an article in the Discipleship Journal about “10 Questions To Ask To Make Sure You’re Still Growing” by Donald Whitney. (If you want a copy, just e-mail me.) Basically, Whitney helps us answer the question, “Are you more like Jesus than you were a year ago?”
Allow me to share two of the ten benchmarks. One of them is, “Are you more and more loving?” A sign that we are truly believers is our love for others especially for the brethren. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7, NIV) We can say a person is growing spiritually if he is growing in love. So, Whitney encourages us to ask these questions: “Can you recall recent instances of Christlike love in your life? Have there been occasions when you’ve sacrificed your own preferences, plans, or rights for those of others?”
Corollary to that is: “Are you more and more willing to forgive others?” Whitney wrote, “The more we become like Jesus, who forgave even those who nailed Him on the cross, the more we will be willing to forgive... Have you forgiven any longtime hurts during the past year? ...Are you bitter at someone you were bitter toward six months ago? If so, then regardless of all your Christian activities, you have deceived yourself about having made any real spiritual progress during that time.”
Remember that one of the proofs that we are Christ’s disciples would be our love for one another. It is heartbreaking that we withhold forgiveness because we claim we are teaching the person a lesson. It is miserable that we refuse to extend our hand in fellowship with another for we justify it by saying we are right and they are wrong. Do you know that it is possible that your heart can be wrong even if you are right in your stance?
This Sunday, Rev. Philip Tarroja will talk about the “loving” part of our mission statement (“Glorify God by Multiplying Biblical, Committed and Loving Followers of Jesus Christ”.) I pray that we will respond by obeying Ephesians 4:31-32, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)
Brethren, are we really growing in love?