“Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart….” (1 Peter 1:22-25 NASB)
God’s Word to us instructs us to love each other from the heart, but what does that mean?
“Heart” in scripture most often refers to the core of our being: from all that makes us who we are as individuals. This core being is made up of our mind or thoughts, our will, and our emotions.
Loving from the heart of our mind means to possess right, true, and loving thoughts toward others.
In the love chapter, we are instructed that kindness is a love virtue. All actions begin in our thinking, toward God, ourselves, and others. Doing kindness begins with our thoughts toward each: God, self, and others. Patience, jealousy, bragging, arrogance, actions unbecoming to a Christ follower: all these and more in the outline of love actions are effected positively or negatively by our thoughts. So love begins with our minds, and requires our fervent practice of taking every thought captive in the obedience of Christ, following His example in the practice of love.
Love begins in our minds because true, Agape love, which is the “love” word used here, is a function of our wills. Will flows out of what we think and believe true, right, and good, which is dictated by who we are, our defining characteristics. As Christ followers, we are people of The Word, and we will seek wisdom from that Word in directing our wills.
God loves by choice, because He is Love, and He cannot deny Himself. His love is not led astray by wayward thought processes, nor does He willfully go against who He is. Everything He thinks, says, and does flows true to His character, being dictated by who He is, the main part of His nature being love. When He slew whole groups of people, it was not dictated by hate of those destroyed, but by love that desired to protect those adversely affected by some form of hate or rebellion in the ones slain.
Love is not self-centered, selfish, but God and others centered. It is considerate of those we love in all we choose. It does what most represents God in accomplishing His will out of love for Him. And it considers what is most beneficial and caring toward those within our sphere of responsibility. By choice of our will, we do all out of love, becoming love as God is love, and staying true to who we are in Christ: the image of God.
Though love is a choice of our wills as dictated by right and true thoughts within us, it is not devoid of emotion. Emotions are. Though we should not allow emotion to dictate, devoid of thought coupled with wisdom of will, emotions help our expression of thought or opinion when aided by right thoughts and wisdom bred will.
When my husband looks at me with love’s passion shining in his eyes, I see the depth and sincerity of his love for me. When a controlled outburst of anger rises up to get my attention, I recognize the need to take heed to the importance of the issue expressed by the one angered. Emotion aids expression when controlled by love and wisdom. But be forewarned about being dictated by unchecked emotion.
When emotions rise, it’s important to acknowledge the flare, weighing it on the scales of loving wisdom, and taking it captive to righteousness. Passion unchecked and without love’s focus can lead to adultery. Fear unchecked and without love’s focus is destructive to faith, able to drag us off in opposition to God and His ways. Fear breeds hate, as it is ill equipped to think righteously or choose what is best out of love for God, self, and others.
Note the order given as seen in throughout scripture: mind, will, emotions. Without right thinking, our wills will lead us astray. Devoid of will’s directive, emotions make us fickle.
Love seeks out right and true thoughts. Love takes action deliberately, with clarity of will, as righteousness and wisdom become clear. Love uses right thought and clarity of will to temper emotion as a vital communication and motivation tool. Thus, we knowingly, deliberately, and fervently love from the heart in likeness to our God, who IS love.
Scriptures referenced: 1 Corinthians 13; 2 Corinthians 10:1-6.