“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, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God”
1 Peter 1:22-23
The apostle Peter’s choice of the word fervently to describe how believers should love should catch our attention. We’re not just to love, but we’re to fervently love each other. What do you think of when you read the word fervently? Would your family and brothers and sisters in Christ say that you love them in this manner? I’m convicted as I even write the question, because when I think of what it means to be fervent, the words passion, energy, and excitement come to mind. Too often I have failed to love like that. Does anyone else feel that way? If so, let’s deal with that conviction first.
Conviction helps us see Jesus’ fervent love
Rather than wallow in depression or discouragement about not loving like we ought, let’s be encouraged to run to Jesus and thank Him that forgiveness is ours through His work on the cross. Praise the Lord that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! God has seen all the times we haven’t loved fervently or loved well, and He has taken those failures out of the way so that they don’t hinder our relationship with Him. He loves us fervently. His love is hot, glowing like the sun in its brightness, to the point of removing all darkness. He loves us with deep feeling and passion. In fact, Jesus’ work on the cross is called the passion of Christ. He passionately wants us to know and experience His love, and that only happens when we experience conviction for sin and then trust in His mercy and grace toward us. So, as we embrace the conviction of not loving fervently, we can passionately move toward Jesus to receive His promised forgiveness and cleansing. Thank you, Jesus, for fervently loving us from Your heart!
Fervent love flows from those who are born again through God’s Word
Now that we’ve dealt with the conviction for our “impassionate” love, let’s move into what Peter called “the true grace of God.” In 1 Peter 5:12, the apostle said that he had written to the believers of the true grace of God. I think Peter was clarifying what he had written in the beginning of his letter, that we are being saved to obey Jesus by “the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit” (1 Peter 1:2). This work in us is the true grace of God. What did Jesus command His disciples to do? He commanded them to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:34). Loving fervently is impossible without the presence of Jesus Christ in our lives. Passionately loving people is the true grace of God. Yet we must be made alive to true love experienced and expressed through the indwelling Spirit of God. The glorious truth is that if the Holy Spirit is convicting you of trying to love without the power of God, or with only your limited human ability, you can go to Jesus and ask Him to forgive and change you. These confessions and transformations are necessary, even for those of us who have been walking with Him for decades! The Spirit’s ongoing revelations to us of our attempts to follow Him in our own power call us to new levels of repentance and lead us to continuing renewals in our spirits and our relationships. The Spirit calls us again to trust in the Father’s love, which Jesus expressed through His death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. He calls us to receive anew His life and love, and to walk in His mercies that are new every morning. Amen? I praise God that the Gospel never gets old!
Peter, like his fellow disciple John, taught that only those who know God and have been born again can love like Jesus loves––sincerely and fervently (see 1 John 4:7-8). Loving fervently is a gift of grace that comes with the new birth. No, believers in Jesus don’t love fervently all the time, but loving passionately is possible, because we have experienced God’s love through Christ. His love is enduring, and it’s always hot! It is never cool or tepid. It is His very nature to do what is in our highest good, no matter what it costs Him. Through that love, He has caused us to be born again—that is, made alive to Him, and united with Him. We are transformed by the seed of His love being planted in us and growing in us. When believers abide in Christ and His Word, our love becomes supernatural, like His. We are bearing the fruit of His seed in us. As He grows us up in Christ, we find ourselves able to love like He loves, with His fervent, determined love that burns hot from the heart. So while we may not always be attentive to His gift of love that is in us, we do have the power within us to love God and others with the selfless passion of Christ.
Love flows out of a purified soul
Please look again at the focal verses above. “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). Fervent love can only flow out of one who has purified his or her soul so they can love like Jesus loves. This purification is our responsibility as an act of obedience to Jesus. Peter is telling us to get rid of the hindrances to the flow of His love in our souls. What might those hindrances be? Unbelief, idolatry, unforgiveness, bitterness, pride, selfishness, lust, and self-pursuits––just to name a few. Anything that hardens the heart is detrimental to fervently loving from the heart. Keeping a clear conscience before God and man certainly makes sense, especially since Paul wrote, “But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5). Did you notice the common ideas between these two verses that Paul and Peter wrote? Love. Purity. Heart. Sincerity. You might think they got together and agreed about how love works, and then simply expressed the idea in different ways. Obviously, the meaning from both of them is the same. Love flows out of a purified soul. So if we want to obey Jesus and fervently love from the heart, we will do everything we can to keep a clear conscience with God and man, while consistently abiding in Jesus.
Let’s be doers of the Word
Here are some suggestions for growing in love with Jesus and for fervently loving others.
- Discuss together what it means to be fervent. Look the word up in a dictionary and then discuss some things that people do with fervency.
- Discuss what Jesus did that illustrates how He purified His soul in obedience to His Father so He could love you fervently.
- Ask the Holy Spirit to help you with this one. Fill in the following blanks. “I am fervent in my love for ___________________.” “When I do __________________, it hinders the flow of Jesus’ love in my life.” Then share with the members of your family what you’ve learned and ask them to forgive you for not loving them fervently.
- Who do you know that loves fervently? What is it about them that is worth emulating so you can love like they do?
- Pray that the Holy Spirit will show you what needs to be purified out of your soul so that you can love well. Then take steps to do it. You may experience greater transformation if you will share with someone close to you what the Spirit has shown you and the steps you intend to take to purify your soul in order to grow in love.
I pray that your love for the Lord will spur you on to confront the things that interfere with your ability to love others fervently with Him, by obeying Christ and submitting to the Holy Spirit’s leading. Loving with Jesus is an exciting adventure, and the more we pursue love, the more freedom and joy we experience as His love flows through us to those He puts in our paths.