More loving?

“The more a person loves, the closer he approaches the image of God.” –Martin Luther

I’m slowly working my way through Donald S. Whitney’s “Ten Questions To Diagnose Your Spiritual Health.” I’m going to be brutally honest here and share that sometimes walking the road of faith in God is not always easy for me. Over the past couple of years in particular, I have come head-to-head with my faith and often times it hasn’t been glamorous. I’m a real person with a desperately sinful heart, stumbling and tripping my way through life. I struggle and I doubt and I sometimes wonder if all that I live for is a “fairytale”.” Some seasons are gloriously encouraging and others can be gloomily hazy and dark. As I get older, life’s perspective has become more real to me. I am not so naive anymore so as to believe that nothing bad will happen to me or suffering will never touch me. We all know as Christians that suffering is, in fact, a mark of a true believer and if we aren’t experiencing any at all, one might question whether or not he really is a follower of Christ.

It seems like lately I’ve been battling alot of thoughts and feelings – questioning why certain things happen in my life or why my circumstances are sometimes hard. There are times when I don’t “feel” God’s presence and question whether or not He is who He says He is. I have taken great encouragement in the fact that many a great Christian theologian and hero has walked the path that I am walking. John Piper, one of my living hero’s said that he, too, sometimes struggles with doubt and he always asks God to unveil his eyes which is a prayer that I have mimicked. Reading Whitney’s book has been so helpful to me in looking at my life and testing my faith. God’s Word reminds us to test our faith and David even cried out in the Psalms for God to search his heart and see if there be any offensive way in him. In seasons of doubt, there is no greater remedy than to hold our lives up to the standard of God’s Word viewing it through the lens of grace and the power of the Spirit at work in us.

In chapter 3 of Whitney’s book, he has us ask the question, “Are you more loving?”

Are you making convincing progress in love, however slow, or are you regressing? The test of Christlikeness is not the greatness of your love toward those who love you, but the bounty of your love towards those who do not. Those who are growing in love will demonstrate it in 3 ways:

1.Love for other Christians:  Just as we love many people, yet have a deeper love for those in our families, so we in God’s family love one another more than we love those who hate Christ and His people. And as we are able, we should express our love by doing good to all  people, but particularly those in our spiritual family.

2. Love for the lost– an unbeliever can only pump love from his own limited, stagnant, brackish human reserves. The Christian, on the other hand, can pour out love from the love God pours in.

3. Love for your family– Who we really are, we are at home.  Over time, those in your family should feel that you love them more than you used to.

As I examine my heart, I’m learning it’s good to ask the tough questions when it comes to my faith. I’m encouraged that a God who loves me and pursues me has even caused me to doubt, in his sovereignty, so that my faith will be refined and made as pure as gold. I know I’m a work-in-progress and I’m so thankful for God’s out-pouring of grace in my life even when the way is grim…