Nothing...no, nothing...has matured me more deeply, or built more character into me, or frustrated me more than the relationships God strategically places in my life. There is no greater discipline, no greater depth of maturity, no better means of achieving Godly character, than the commitment to simply love one's family, and the people of God in one's local church. Obviously, family is a far greater covenant relationship than local church, but we can never escape the fact that these two proving-grounds test us and try us to the breaking point...to the point where everything in us screams, "I Quit!"
....but we stay. We refuse to come down from our cross, but rather die there.
Love to the point of having to be patient. Love when it is difficult to be kind. Love in spite of people's track record. Love, when I have the sense that, one day, I might not be loved in return. Love anyway.
Love people who are less sophisticated than I. Love people who know less than I. Love people who are far more sophisticated than I. Love people who know more than I.
Love people who think they know more than I.
Love people who offend me. Love people who hurt me deeply. Love people who disagree with me on doctrinal incidentals. Love people who disagree with me on gut-level fundamentals. Love the sinner, love the saint. Love my neighbor as myself.
It takes work to achieve a college degree. It takes work to pay off a house. It takes work to plant a church. It takes work to raise children. Anything worth a great deal, costs a great deal.
Love is worth fighting for. Why do we think that right relationships, particularly in our marriages and with our parents or our children, do not require long and strenuous effort, at times?
Love is the basis of the finest sort of spiritual maturity and character development.