How Quiet Times Fuel God’s Love
For much of my childhood, I had no knowledge of God and a limited understanding of love. Nevertheless, from the depth of my heart and in the dark of my bedroom, I recall crying out to God for both.
We love because He first loved us. I John 4:19 (NIV)
By seventeen, the only verse I knew was John 3:16:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (NIV)
I didn’t fully appreciate the gift of grace offered, but even in my ignorance, I understood God expressed his love by giving the most valuable thing he had to offer to save others from death.
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13 (NIV)
When Jesus called my heart to follow him, I began to understand how much he loved me—truly, unconditionally, and eternally. I also realized how unlike God’s love my own was and how much I needed to learn.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. I John 4:7-8 (NIV)
The Bible taught me to know God was to know love—because God is love and demonstrated love in the person and sacrifice of Jesus his Son. God loves me with a one-way, committed love I do not deserve—this is grace.
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (NIV)
By spending time in God’s word and in prayer (quiet times) I learn how to love like Jesus—like God.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” John 15:9-12 (NIV)
You may think quiet times and love are an unlikely pair, but I have found spending time in God’s word and in prayer actually fuels my love for others.
How does God’s word impact our love?
It puts my priorities in order.
Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness… (Matthew 6:33 NIV)
Spending time with God helps me to get my priorities straight. I’m reminded each day that God’s in charge. I’m to look for opportunities to serve and love others. He tells me all the rest will fall in proper order. Actually, all my relationships improve when I regularly spend time with God—I’m a more thoughtful spouse, parent, and friend.
It makes me more gracious and patient.
Bear with each other and forgive one another…(Colossians 3:12-14 NIV)
Extending grace is not my natural response to an offense, but God’s word tells me I’m not only to bear with others, but I’m also to forgive and quickly forget offenses—regardless of whether or not they ask for forgiveness. Bitterness is not an option for a child of God. I’m to clothe myself with compassion, kindness, gentleness, and humility just as I would slip on my sandals.
It makes me less critical.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged… (Matthew 7:1 NIV))
When my thoughts begin to critique and judge how I’d like others to behave or change, I remember that people answer to God, not me, and I can’t make anyone change. I’ve learned to take my desires to him, and he usually reminds me that he is in charge and can be trusted—with me, with my husband, and with my children. It’s actually a relief realizing changing others isn’t my job.
It makes me reflect on my own sin before pointing a finger at others.
“You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye” … (Matthew 7:5 NIV))
|I’m very adept at spotting the sin in others and very nearsighted when it comes to my own sin. When I feel the need to confront sin in another person, I first stop and reflect on my heart. God often reveals my impure motives and I repent. This gets easier with practice.
It makes me assume the best of others.
Whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—think about such things… (Philippians 4:7-9 NIV)
My first inclination is to assume the worst intentions and motives in others. I know I don’t want to hurt those I love, why do I jump to malice in others? Reminding myself of what is true, excellent, and admirable in them, shifts my heart and my response.
It makes me more quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.
Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry… (James 1: 19-20 NIV)
I’m ashamed to confess how many times I’ve gone to bed angry because of conflict. My first response to defend myself triggers negative responses from those who are closest to me. God’s word tells me I need to be quick to listen and slow to speak and slow to become angry. Listening before speaking helps me to understand what’s really being said. Being slow to respond gives the Holy Spirit time to expose my heart and fears. Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires—these strong words challenge what I truly desire.
Nicole Shrader is a retired homeschool mother who loves to travel, bake bread, read, and spend time with her kids and grandkids.
For more of her writing visit www.nicolelisamaria.com.