Growing in Love

Read: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-4

Your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. (v. 3)

In Invitation to a Journey, M. Robert Mulholland Jr. points out the temptation to believe that our spiritual growth takes place merely in our personal relationship to God. Once it is sufficiently developed we can “export it into our relationships with others and ‘be Christian’ with them.” But in his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul is clear that growth in faith is linked with growth in love for others. We are spiritually formed in the midst of our relationships; every relationship has the potential to be a transforming encounter with God.

I learned this a few years ago when I began supervising a young man in ministry who couldn’t have been more different from me. He is an extrovert; I am an introvert. He told his story to everyone he met; I chose my confidants carefully. He was scattered; I was organized. And yet here we were yoked together in ministry. One of the soul-training exercises I learned in my own spiritual formation practice was to pray for those you don’t like. So I chose to pray for this guy. The experiment went on for months and I began to see a change—in me. I saw his differences as gifts, his enthusiasm as Spirit-filled, and his high energy level as passion. I saw that Christ was dwelling and delighting in him as much as he was in me. I was being spiritually formed! —Karen Bables

As you pray, ask God to help you grow for the sake of others.

About the Author

Karen Bables is the retired Spiritual Director of Christ Memorial Church in Holland, Michigan.

This entry is part 12 of 14 in the series Introduction to Spiritual Formation