Increasing and abounding love for all
by Carolyn Ehrlich
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May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
Can you imagine? What must it feel like to know that someone is praying that the Lord makes you increase and abound in love? But can you also imagine what life would be like if we weren’t being prayed for like this? Paul is not praying that the Christians in Thessalonica fall ‘in love’ with each other or with things the world says might make them happy. He is praying for agape love – the authentic type of love that Jesus has for us and has commanded us to have for one another (John 13:34,35). What is this kind of love? It is a love that is unconditional in expression, unselfish in motive, and unlimited in benefit. It is intricately dependent on our action. One person expressed the importance of putting love into action like this:
A bell isn’t a bell till it’s rung,
A song isn’t a song till it’s sung,
Love isn’t put in your heart to stay,
Love isn’t love till it’s given away.
(Attributed to Oscar Hammerstein)
We are to pray for one another that the Lord will make each of us increase and abound in love for one another and for all – those we know and those we do not know, those we have an easy rapport with, those who we find more challenging to deal with. I don’t know about you, but I don’t find it particularly easy to love everyone unconditionally, authentically and unselfishly. Some people hurt, they are prickly, and they do not see things the way I see them – they are human. I do not find it easy to give my love to some people. I would not say that my love increases and abounds for these people – and yet I can see why I would want to pray that my love for them does increase and abound. And I expect that not everyone I know finds me easy to love unconditionally, authentically and unselfishly. Perhaps I have hurt them. Perhaps I am prickly. Perhaps I don’t see things the way they do. But would I want someone to be praying that their love for me increases and abounds? Absolutely.
Why is it important for us to pray this prayer of increasing and abounding love for one another and for all? In verse 14, Paul tells us, ‘so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints’. Pray with me, for the sake of people everywhere and for our holiness before God.
Father God, thank you that we can love because you first loved us. Thank you for all the people who diligently pray that you make our love for one other and all people increase and abound. Today, we pray for your people everywhere. Lord, in your name, we pray that you will make us grow and abound in love for one another and for all. Amen.
Carolyn Ehrlich lives in retirement with her husband Wayne in Ipswich, Queensland. Before retirement, Carolyn was an academic, working as a researcher in the fields of disability and rehabilitation. Carolyn had also previously worked clinically as a registered nurse. Today, Carolyn keeps busy with hobbies such as patchwork and quilting, supporting the Ipswich Lutheran Parish in various leadership roles, and supporting her family.
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