Today, I was drawn again to 1 Timothy 1:5-7:

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

Love can’t be forced. It requires the following things:

  • A source: A pure heart. A heart that is stained by sin will not produce love. “Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water?” (James 3:11). Love requires a heart that yearns to please God, not to please itself. Love is totally unnatural to us, and it will only come naturally as the Holy Spirit works to make our hearts pure.
  • A guide: A good conscience. We need to know how to behave in a manner pleasing to God, and for this, we need a conscience that is trained in right and wrong. Such a conscience will spur us on toward acts of love and pull us back from unloving actions and words.
  • A goal: A sincere faith. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). We trust that God will use our words and actions of love and fill them with His glory.

When these three are not in place, love is missing, so our knowledge of the truth turns into “vain discussion” (v. 6) and a desire to teach things we don’t really understand (v. 7).

I want to learn how to love God and how to love other people. It doesn’t come naturally to me at all (or to anyone). If I am to fulfill God’s commandment to love, I first need to cultivate a holy life by the power of His Spirit.