1 Thessalonians 3:12
And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
The goal for an athlete in any sport is to make improvements from one year to the next. Most of us aren’t satisfied “just to be out there” and have an innate desire to compete on the highest level possible. Many golfers are dedicated to writing down or posting his or her scores all year long in order to keep track of their handicap. Most generally, the handicap system is used to equal the competition among golfers of varying skill levels. The software will record and generate data for months and years of posted scores. We want to be able to see at least a gradual improvement from the previous year or reporting session.
We should have that same desire for the improvement of our spiritual “handicap.” This yearning will be to know Christ more closely than we did the year before. Has our relationship with the Savior grown closer this year? Is the line of communication to the Heavenly Father more clear than it was last year? Further, we should have the want to learn more Biblical facts and stories. Many believers feel intimidated when speaking to others with more Biblical knowledge than themselves. However, instead of having the desire to study and read more, we just withdraw ourselves from discussion. In 1 Peter 1:3, we are promised that, “according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” When we desire growth and claim this promise, we are guaranteed an empowerment which is greater than any earthly wisdom or fleeting happiness.
Both of these attributes lead to one major spiritual improvement – the desire to love others more and more. We can judge our own level of improvement and growth by how much we have loved others. If there is one overriding principle in the Bible, it is that we are to love as we were loved. There are no pretexts or contexts to this love that He commands. When we begin a sentence with “but they” and “if they”, we are already making an excuse to wrongly withhold love. The spirit of Jesus gives us this yearning to love all others. It is then others will be able see a distinct difference in the life of the believer. The love is not grounded in a denomination or a political party. When we put our faith in either, disappointment and divisions inevitably ensue. When we make it a point to love, we will grow both spiritually and in His knowledge and wisdom!