While there are certainly times when God accomplishes His purposes with a single word, more often than not, He works through a process. He did say, “Let there be light,” and immediately there was light. But at the same time, Genesis 1-2 describes not a single moment in which God snapped His fingers and the world was completed, but a six-day process through which He brought about each part of His creation at the appropriate time and in the necessary order.
Is it surprising, then, that God also has a process by which He grows and develops something as valuable as our hearts?
Embrace the Process
While the Holy Spirit is certainly helping me to grow, I am not a patient man by nature. I like to see results, and when I do not experience them quickly, I am prone to giving up and moving on.
As an example, starting a new exercise routine is difficult for me, because typically the only immediate result is sore muscles. The payoff I am looking for takes weeks, months, and years to realize.
The same is true in business. I have started several new ventures based on ideas I believe were legitimately solid, but none of them took off as quickly as I had hoped. That is why, while I consider myself to be an entrepreneur on some level, I am still working for an employer whose name is not Kyle McNutt.
I struggle with committing to a process, and I have a hunch that I am not alone. We are a “microwave generation” that values immediate results and instant gratification. One of the reasons we struggle to relate to God is because He seems to favor a slower, more systematic approach.
While it would certainly be ideal in many ways if God would wiggle His nose and make us fully devoted disciples who are empowered to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, it doesn’t work that way. If only He would prescribe a pill to help me consistently love my neighbor as myself, then I could surely be a more effective evangelist. Nope. No dice.
God is relational and wants us to continually choose to walk with Him through His process, trusting Him for the outcome. He is the “author and finisher of our faith,” (Hebrews 12:2) and He will finish the good work He has started in each of us (Philippians 1:6).
I could provide God with a myriad of reasons why He should move things along a little quicker. In fact, I have. Maybe you have too. But He seems committed to this whole process thing. And since He has been doing it His way from eternity past, if we hope to see our hearts grow in love for God and others, it behooves us to learn and cooperate with His methodology.
Growing in Holy Passion
Before we dig in, it is important to make a few clarifications.
While what I am describing here is certainly a process, these are not steps that we move through in the sense of perfecting one in order to move on to the next. Instead, we should think of these stages as building upon one another – each stage is the foundation for the ones that follow.
Also, we do not wait until we have perfected stages one, two, and three before we ever get to stage four. We should live in each stage simultaneously, but our “success” in the latter stages is dependent upon how well the earlier stages have been established in our lives.
So, with those caveats in place, let’s take a look at the process through which the Holy Spirit makes us passionate lovers of both God and those around us:
- We receive increased revelation of God’s love for us.
I know I have mentioned this several times already, but it is such a critical point that it bears repeating: the only place to start in our progression toward growing in love for God is at the beginning, understanding the incredible love that the Father has for us. It is impossible to truly love God without first understanding this reality.
- We are empowered to love God in return.
Love for God is a gift that comes to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, and it begins with a revelation of His love for us. In short, it takes God to love God, and He freely gives this love to all who earnestly desire it.
- We are able to love ourselves in a biblical way.
Before we can love our neighbor as ourselves and fulfill the commandments of Jesus, we must first learn to love ourselves in the grace of God. I am not talking about loving ourselves in a fleshly or selfish way, but in a way that simply agrees with God – knowing and affirming what we look like to Him and who we are in Christ as His inheritance.
- We love others out of the overflow of love that God has produced in our heart.
The final phase in the progression toward holy passion is learning to love others well. This is the visible evidence of our love for God. In fact, Jesus tells us in John 13:34-35 that the way that the world will know that we are His disciples, that we truly love Him and long to be like Him, is if we love one another. But it is only possible to love others well once we have grown through the other steps in God’s process.
I look forward to diving into each of these steps a bit more in the weeks to come, but for now, I would just like for you to consider these points without significant commentary from me. Please drop any questions or comments you have in the comments below or on social media. I would love to get the conversation going!
(If you enjoyed this post, check out Part 2)