every year i choose a theme word to guide me; by which to filter my goals, thoughts, & actions; to help me live & grow intentionally. i've been working through an inspiring list found in 2 peter 1:3-8 --
His divine power has given us everything we need for life & godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory & goodness. through these He has given us His very great & precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
for this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith, goodness; & to goodness, knowledge; & to knowledge, self-control; & to self-control, perseverance; & to perseverance, godliness; & to godliness, brotherly kindness; & to brotherly kindness, love. for if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective & unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
it is this divinely inspired list that i have been working through for the last seven years. i am now at the eighth & final characteristic -- love. agape.
as i center on this most basic, most beautiful characteristic of christianity, i chose 1 john 3:16-23 as my theme passage --
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 & sisters. if someone has enough money to live well & sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion, how can God's love be in that person?
dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other, let us show the truth by our actions. our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, & He knows everything.
dear friends, if we don't feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. and we will receive from Him whatever we ask because we obey Him & do the things that please Him. and this is His commandment: we must believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, & love one another, just as He commanded us.
of course, the book of 1 john is filled with a plethora of verses on love that my theme passage doesn't include -- God is love, perfect love drives out fear, etc. i plan to spend time studying the whole book with the help of warren wiersbe's book, be real.
also, i don't think i can adequately [or accurately] focus on agape through this passage alone or 1 john alone. it must be partnered with Jesus' exhortation: love your enemies! pray for those who persecute you! do good to those who hate you. lend to them without expecting to be repaid. while it is challenging enough to love those in the body, it is all the more difficult to love your enemies. and sometimes, they are one & the same...
so, here's to a year focusing on love. loving all people, in ACTION, like Christ -- agape.