Love is not premeditated. Love is spontaneous, bursting up in extraordinary ways. Consider Paul’s description of love: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5). There is nothing calculating about the kind of love Paul describes. It is free and easy, arriving without conscious effort on our part. When the Spirit of the Lord is having his way with us, we pour out his love spontaneously, living up to God’s standard without even realizing it.

Like everything that has to do with the life of God in us, the true nature of a loving action can only be seen in hindsight. Looking back on some loving action we took, we are amazed at how we felt in the moment: unselfish and uncalculating. That is the evidence real love was there.

Trying to prove to God how much we love him is a sure sign that we do not love him. The evidence that our love for him is true is that it comes naturally, bubbling up without our bidding at the command of the Holy Spirit. That is why we can’t see our own reasons for doing certain loving things: it is the Spirit in our hearts who does them. We can’t say, “Now I am going to always be patient.” The springs of love are in God, not in us. To look for the love of God in our hearts is absurd if we have not been born again by the Spirit: God’s love is there only when he is. “God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

Wisdom from Oswald

Defenders of the faith are inclined to be bitter until they learn to walk in the light of the Lord. When you have learned to walk in the light of the Lord, bitterness and contention are impossible.
Biblical Psychology