By Francis Frangipane
Is your love growing softer, brighter and more visible? Or is it becoming more discriminating, more calculating, less vulnerable and less available? This is a very important issue, for your Christianity is only as real as your love. A measurable decrease in your ability to love is evidence that a stronghold of cold love is developing within you.
Jesus warned of our era. He said, "Many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold" (Matt. 24:10-12). So let us honestly ask the Lord to examine us: Is our love hot or cold? Another's thoughtlessness may have wounded us deeply, but instead of forgiving the wound or going to them and discussing it according to Matthew 18, we go to others with our complaint. The wound then begins to germinate into a root of bitterness, and many are being defiled (Heb. 12:15). What is growing in us is not love but bitterness, which is unfulfilled revenge.
Again, Jesus warned that "stumbling blocks [would] come" (Matt. 18:7). There will be times when even good people have bad days; there will never be a time when "stumbling blocks" cease to be found upon your path. Remember also, people do not stumble over boulders but over stones -- little things. When you have stumbled over something, you've stopped walking.
Have you stumbled over someone's weakness or sin lately? Have you gotten back up and continued loving as you did before, or has that fall caused you to withdraw from walking in love? To preserve the quality of your love, you must forgive those who have caused you to stumble. Depending on the issue itself, it may be that you legitimately cannot trust them, but you do not have a reason to stop loving.
Every time you refuse to forgive or fail to overlook a weakness in another, your heart not only hardens toward them, it hardens toward God. You may still think you are open to God, but the Scriptures are clear: "The one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20). You may not like what someone has done, but you do not have an option to stop loving them.
What do I mean by love? First, I do not merely mean "tough love." I mean gentle, affectionate, sensitive, open, persistent love. God will be tough when He needs to be, and we will be firm when He tells us to be, but beneath our firmness must be an underground river of love waiting to spring into action. When I have love for someone, I have predetermined that I am going to stand with them, regardless of what they are going through. I am committed.
We each need people who love us, who are committed to us in spite of our imperfections. The fullness of Christ will not come without Christians standing with each other in love. We are not talking about salvation but growing in salvation until we care for each other, even as Christ has committed Himself to us.
The goal of pulling down the stronghold of cold love is to see our hearts restored to the heart of Christ. You will be challenged in this, but if you persist, you will discover the height and depth and breadth of Christ's love. You will become "a body filled and flooded with God Himself" (Eph. 3:19 Amp).