Increasing Your Capacity to Love

“May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:19 (NLT)

I once worked for a man that most viewed as the ornery type. He was even called ‘Grinch’ because of his grisly voice and his somewhat grumpy outlook on life. After his first marriage ended, he declared that he’d never again get married. His previous wife had been unfaithful, and he didn’t feel he could allow himself to be so trusting again. This was until years later, when he met and married his current wife. Over time, we’ve kept up with each other, and I never dreamed his life would take such a turn. He’s been on quite the journey, and honestly, I don’t believe I’ve ever met anyone that is willing to be as transparent about his life as he has been. He’s shared his ups and downs with me, and he has made a monumental impact on my life, as well as many others.

After being married for only one year, his wife was diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He made the decision to retire early so that they could enjoy as much time together as possible before this debilitating disease altered their lives. So, for the last several months he’s chronicled their everyday struggles with his closest friends. It gives him an avenue to vent, share, and give us an up close and personal view of what they go through.

He calls their everyday struggles of adjustment, “the new normal”. His beloved wife has now lost most of her mobility. They were avid boaters, but have recently sold their boat because she is no longer able to climb on to it. Assisted walking, wheelchairs, long drives out of state to doctor visits are just a few of the new normal practices that consist of a typical day for them.

There are a chorus of women singing the sad song of ‘not enough good men’, but it’s a tune I just can’t catch, especially after seeing this man’s commitment to care for his wife. I’ve gained immeasurable perspective from my ex-boss’s journey. I believe that if this kind of commitment and adoration can exist in the heart of a man who doesn’t openly profess the Lord, imagine the possibility of loyalty and love from one who does.

He has given me an up-close and personal reminder of how love from a man should look, and what it should represent. In the case of many Christian singles looking to partner, often this is what is missing. It’s the connection between the love of Christ and the action, patience, and commitment it takes to carry it through. It’s a love that endures countless sleepless nights, and days filled with both agony and joy, all for the care of someone other than ourselves. It’s a selflessness that knows no bounds.

Not only are we, as children of God, capable of exhibiting this kind of love, but we are commanded to demonstrate it to each other. Jesus Christ told us in John 15:12(NLT), “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” This is the capacity that God is cultivating and increasing within us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. He’s teaching us to love with the humility, endurance, and faithfulness of Christ.

God has told us through the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3:16 that we need to pray to be empowered by the Holy Spirit with the strength to love this way. When we do, Ephesians 3:17 (NLT) says, “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” When we are so focused on the love we don’t have, and we begin to speak words of lack, we are communicating that we do not believe in God’s provision. This is not good ground, and our roots cannot grow in it. Jesus Christ came so that we could have a life of abundance. Everything that we could ever need, he provided access to it. Faith and trust in this truth is the ground we need, and it is the only ground that will produce the harvest we’ve been praying to receive.

I’m not sure that my ex-boss knows the scripture as well as many of us do, but he made a very conscious decision that changed the course of his life. He chose to leave his past doubts and reservations behind, in an effort to love and care deeply for someone new. Instead of focusing on what he didn’t have, he chose to focus on the love that he could give. And I’m sure even he is surprised by the capacity and level of love he has demonstrated.

Ephesians 3:18 (NLT) says, “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.” It is so very important for each of us to understand that the love of Christ within us is limitless. It is more than enough for any circumstance, at any time. I will hear women say about a man that doesn’t meet their long list of ‘must haves’, “He’s nice, but I could never love him.”  Heavenly Father wants us to be beyond this kind of thinking, because the person that will bring to us the greatest joy will also bring the greatest challenge, and the unconditional love of God must be cultivated in our hearts in order to handle it. So while we’re yet single, we should strive to understand God’s love daily, and pray that He will empower us to know, live, and grow in the love of Christ. ■

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

“Increasing Your Capacity to Love” written for FACM, ©2019.  All rights reserved. All done to the glory of God through Jesus Christ, our Lord!

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