Daily Riches: Beyond the Impractical Ideal of Love (Dallas Willard)

“Malice or desire and intention to harm is often rooted in how we think about the persons concerned: our image of them, the inferences we habitually draw about them, and so forth. Perhaps we see them only as an obstacle to our desires, or as less than ‘human,’ as worthless. Perhaps we need to take steps toward seeing them as objects of God’s love, or as beings of intrinsic value, like our own children or grandchildren or others we delight in. That will, in turn, require changes in how we think about our world and our self. All of this may be helped along by getting to know them, seeing what their life is like; or serving them. Now the question becomes, not just will we love them, drop our malice, but: Are we willing to make those changes in our thinking, willing to allow God to help us do it. …That is where the will comes into play. It is not the growth of ‘will power’ we are looking for in spiritual formation, but transformation of all dimensions of the self under the direction of God, through a will surrendered to Him and applied appropriately to bring about personal change. Now that we understand all of this, we can seriously undertake to become persons possessed by love…. Love ceases to be an intimidating and impractical ideal and becomes something we can see progress in day by day.” Dallas Willard

“The purpose of my instruction
is that all believers would be filled
with love that comes from a pure heart….”
1 Timothy 1:5
.
Moving From the Head to the Heart
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  • Are you open to “getting to know” people you find difficult to love?
  • Are you willing to attempt “seeing what their life is like?”
  • Are you willing to “serve them”–to serve the people you find difficult to love?
  • Only if you can answer “yes” to these questions can you move, with God’s help, beyond an “impractical ideal” of love. Only your answer of “yes” creates the possibility of “progress in [love] day by day.”

Abba, I want to become possessed by love.

For More: Getting Love Right by Dallas Willard

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

Daily Riches: Stop Trying to Love and Start Pursuing Love (Dallas Willard)

“Paul understood the fallacy of those who say ‘I just can’t love so and so,’ and there they stop and give up on love. He knew that they were working at the wrong level. They should not try to love that person but try to become the kind of person who would love them. Only so can the ideal of love pass into a real possibility and practice. Our aim under love is not to be loving to this or that person, or in this or that kind of situation, but to be a person possessed by love as an overall character of life…. I do not come to my enemy and then try to love them, I come to them as a loving person. Love is not a faucet to be turned on or off at will. God himself doesn’t just love me or you, he is love. He is creative will for all that is good. That is his identity, and explains why he loves individuals, even when he is not pleased with them. …[It is] from the depths of the self from which actions come. If we take care of the sources of action, action will take care of itself. …We do not achieve the disposition of agape love by direct effort, but by attending to and putting into place the conditions out of which it arises. …If, now, we want to do the things the scriptures say, we must change the sources of action in the human self. …in [1 Cor. 13:4-8] Paul is not saying that we are to be patient, kind, humble and so forth, but that love itself is patient, kind, humble, etc. …So we ‘pursue love’ and the rest takes care of itself.” Dallas Willard

“Be imitators of God …
and walk in love”
Ephesians 5:1

Moving From the Head to the Heart
  • God expects us to love difficult people. Is your response to “try hard?”
  • What if instead, God wants to change you in “the depths of the self”–to make you the kind of person who loves?
  • There are “conditions out of which [love] arises”–conditions which address heart change more than behavior. No doubt Willard is thinking of formative practices. Can you think of some practices that could help you learn to be a more loving person? If not, perhaps start here.

Abba, make me the kind of person who loves my enemies as easily as my friends.

For More: Getting Love Right by Dallas Willard

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These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)