A Holy and Loving Heart
“May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)
At each week’s Prayer Meeting, we will intercede in prayer for two members and their families. When we ask the members for their petition requests, most will focus on immediate needs like personal health, work-related difficulties, discipline of their children etc. Some will request prayers for the salvation of their unbelieving family members or their own spiritual circumstances. In his prayer for the Thessalonian church, Paul emphasized the testimony of the church on earth, hoping that they would manifest love and holiness until the day they meet the Lord face to face. This writer also wishes in his prayers that our church will always keep alive “a holy and loving heart”.
The Book of Hebrews tells us to “make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) Those who have received the grace of salvation should continue seeking throughout their spiritual journeys, not only to know God more, but for more maturity and bounty in their spiritual lives. Most importantly, they should follow the way of holiness and the fulfillment of a loving heart. Holiness and love most represent the character of God (1 Peter 1:16, 1 John 4:8). If we are full of these attributes of the Lord, God will be glorified because of it, and people will come to know Him through us. How do we seek after holiness and love? The following are some admonitions for practical fulfillment:
“Make every effort to be holy”. Seeking holiness doesn’t just mean not sinning again, but also determining to be separated from sin. Loath the lusts and vices of the flesh; cast off immoral and depraved thoughts; harbour no deceitful intentions in everyday dealings. Don’t allow your eyes to long for those publications and websites that arouse erotica desire; don’t be tolerant of others being treated with violence; don’t pay heed to lewd, x-rated jokes or venomous cursing; don’t be attracted by vulgar contemporary music; don’t be casually critical of brothers; don’t allow your tongue to speak over-blown, self-aggrandizing words; don’t follow the trends of the world; and don’t be a part of another’s sin. Seeking holiness means being apart from the world, and desiring to live before God. Be determined to follow Christ; be willing to submit to the Holy Spirit in all you do; have a clear conscience before God, and strive to maintain the purity of thought and speech.
“Follow the way of love”. Seeking to love one another in the Lord is not blowing hot air, but is manifesting love in behaviour and in truth. Love in Christ does not contain mistrust and jealousy, falsehood and hypocrisy, deceptive intentions, lies and bragging, ostentation and self-aggrandizing, behaviour inconsistent with the position of a saint, self-centeredness, an easily-triggered temper, a memory that holds onto the wrongdoings of others, and a blind eye to unrighteous happenings. Fulfilling the love of the Lord requires the tests of time and circumstances, a willingness to accept and complete difficult tasks, no grumblings against laborious service, grace and compassion when dealing with others, enthusiastic welcome and hospitality for newcomers to the church, ready sharing of the hardships of other members, commiseration with those in sorrow, happiness with those in joy, truth and honesty always in human relationships, and serving in hope for the sake of the Lord. “Follow the way of love…” (1 Corinthians 14:1)
Holiness allows us to stand before God and join with Him. Love builds up the church and connects the members in unity. May the Lord make our holy and loving hearts increase and be full!