To grow in love we must love. We might first need to study or have someone teach us what it is, but choose teachers carefully. We ought to always discern right from wrong especially our guides. We learn what love is as an idea from someone else, but truly learn about love by engaging in it.
When the bible describes God for the most part it uses verb language; merciful, compassionate, love, forgiving, etc. For us to understand these aspects of God we must understand within our heart, mind, and soul these verbs. We understand them by practicing them. Often times we will learn about our fear, denial, anger, frustration, lack of faith, pride, etc. These are also verbs, but these verbs which we practice are sin. To reduce these negative traits we continue to push toward their enemies or Godly traits. We forgive when we do not want or are afraid to and see what happens. We love others and evaluate what that does to us inside our minds and hearts. Perhaps we are afraid to be intimate to have empathy and care. This is the beginning of soul discovery which ought to be done with others who have experience.
We will have many questions about how and when to begin practicing Godly traits that evoke feelings and thoughts we might hope to avoid. Avoiding or repressing them may be walling up our heart and spirit separating us from God. Use caution and trust the spirit.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
Much of the time we evaluate ourselves for problems. "What's wrong," we might ask. When sin blows up on us and begins destroying our family and finances we finally seek help. And then the help we seek points us toward sharing, forgiving, confessing, and humility which the sin within us decides is not a good idea. Most times we listen to sin and seek help somewhere else.
God calls us to focus on love, peace, forgiveness, mercy, gentleness, kindness, patience, peace, endurance, perseverance, and compassion. If we listen and obey God we apply these into our daily conscious activities and develop them within our hearts and minds. Sin decreases as the grace of God from the spirit in us increases.
It's not complicated, but it is difficult resisting our flesh desires for the sake of God's desires. Our minds attempt to sabotage our efforts with delusions, rationalizations, and justifications. Making it through the first few spiritual struggles resisting temptation and giving ourselves over to Godly principles increases our faith. Each victory over temptation ensures us God can and will save us, as we seek God.
We avoid wasting mental energy worrying about the past or the future by focusing on God's love here and now.
Matthew 6:34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
2 Peter 1:4-9 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Galatians 5:14-26 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Practice makes perfect
Matthew 5:46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Ezekiel 33:31 My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.
Remember... we forget
James 1:25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
Hebrews 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.
Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.
2 Peter 1:9
But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Most people who want to get things done have reminders and motivators to help them stay on track and keep accountable toward their goals. Many Christians use support systems, mentors, small groups, and counselors to help them progress. Groups can be powerful in helping each other provided we are honest, sincere, and authentic in our sharing. We ought to continue resisting our guarded ways and give into God's instructions for us. We ought to avoid depending upon others in the group as idols, but instead use their experience as a guide to participate in God's principles of compassion and caring. As others share their victories over temptation and their experience with God's grace, love, and peace we might gain hope and inspiration we often miss doing it alone.
The group experience has enormous spiritual power when those in it are practicing God's principles.
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
A verb conveys action. Saying we are Christian means we are saying we love God. Love is an action, so what are we doing to demonstrate our love for God, goodness, and righteousness with our hearts and minds?
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.