I sat in the early morning reading my Bible by the glow of the Christmas lights. My reading plan, picked out months prior, placed me in 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. I’d been praying for God to reveal my one word for 2018 and found clarity in these short books of the Bible.
Love—choose love—they whispered to me.
God planted the seed for growing in love months earlier when I read Audacious by Beth Moore. Beth talks all about loving God, experiencing God’s love for you, and loving others. Love is the way to live an audacious life—a life worth living.
As I read, I couldn’t help notice how my own personal mission to “love greatly” was falling short. I longed for the audacious love Beth described. A love for God and from God that overflows to the point of spilling out on those around me.
The Bible makes it clear, this is how love is intended to work. “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4:7 ESV)
To help me put my word into action, I’ve decided to read books on love through the year. The purpose is not only to learn more about biblical love, but to keep my word front and center in my mind.
12 Books for Growing in Love
*All descriptions are from Amazon
Love Walked among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus by Paul Miller
In Love Walked among Us, Paul Miller invites us to get to know Jesus, to observe his life and His love as they unfold in the Gospel narratives. The book investigates such questions as: How do you love someone when you get no love in return, only withdrawal or ingratitude? How do you love without being trapped or used by another person? How do you love when you have your own problems? When do you take care of yourself? When you are compassionate, people use you, but when you are honest, people get angry―so how do you love with both compassion and honesty? In every way, Jesus’ life exemplifies the full potential of what we were intended to be. And the better we know Him, the more we will be drawn to follow His perfect example.
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God by Francis Chan
God is love. Crazy, relentless, all-powerful love. Have you ever wondered if we’re missing it? It’s crazy, if you think about it. The God of the universe—the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles, galaxies and E-minor—loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love. And what is our typical response? We go to church, sing songs, and try not to cuss. Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not, we all know something’s wrong…Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of do’s and don’ts—it’s falling in love with God. And once you encounter His love, as Francis describes it, you will never be the same. Because when you’re wildly in love with someone, it changes everything.
His Love Is Like _____.: Illustrations on the Insanity of God’s Desire by Philip Journales
Have you ever mulled over the reckless love of God? Well…if you haven’t, consider this: He invited His killer to an intimate dinner, knowing full well that he’d betray Him; He married a reprehensible prostitute to restore His damaged relationship with humanity; and He adopted middle-aged self-indulging deviants called “you and me.” Insane, right? Examining this—as well as our misinformed views of affection—His Love Is Like _____. reconsiders the constructs of this “thing called love,” all to build upon one culminating idea—that is, God unmistakably, unequivocally, unbelievably desires…YOU.
Loving Jesus More by Philip Graham Ryken
Do you love Jesus more than your spouse? Your reputation? Your kids? Your health? Your job? Your money? As Christians, we’re called to love Jesus more than anyone or anything else. But do we really do this? Emphasizing that God’s love for us is the source of our love for him, Phil Ryken challenges us to take Jesus’s words seriously and think carefully about where our affections truly lie.
A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships by Paul Miller
How do you love with no love in return?How do you love when no one notices or cares? Best-selling author Paul Miller tackles these tough questions at the heart of our struggle to love head-on. Drawing from the book of Ruth, A Loving Life offers the help we need to embrace relationship, endure rejection, cultivate community, and reach out to even the most unlovable around us as we discover the power to live a loving life.
Listen, Love, Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman
Our culture is self-obsessed – in our schedules, relationships, and especially online. (Can you say selfie?) But in this near-narcissism, people are less content than in decades past. Why? Because we forgot the joy that comes from putting others first. Doing so requires us to live alert, listening for “heart drops,” hints from those in our lives who need a helping hand or a generous dose of encouragement. Living alert lifts our own spirits, showing us that blessing others blesses us even more. Listen, Love, Repeat offers biblical teaching and suggests doable actions that are simple, heart-tugging, sentimental, even sneaky and hilarious.
Steadfast Love: The Response of God to the Cries of Our Heart by Lauren Chandler
There are times when worship overflows easily and effortlessly from a heart full of gratitude and praise. Yet, there are other times when God seems far and we feel we have nothing left to offer. We are tired, or thirsty, or imprisoned in our own chains through our own devices, or caught in the waves of a tumultuous sea. This is when God shows us His steadfast love. Walk with Lauren as she shares what she has learned of the steadfast love of the Lord
The Mingling of Souls: God’s Design for Love, Marriage, Sex, and Redemption by Matt Chandler
The Song of Solomon offers strikingly candid—and timeless—insights on romance, dating, marriage, and sex. We need it. Because emotions rise and fall with a single glance, touch, kiss, or word. And we are inundated with songs, movies, and advice that contradicts God’s design for love and intimacy. Matt Chandler helps navigate these issues for both singles and marrieds by revealing the process Solomon himself followed: Attraction, Courtship, Marriage … even Arguing. The Mingling of Souls will forever change how you view and approach love.
The Reckless Way of Love: Notes on Following Jesus by Dorothy Day
In this guidebook Dorothy Day offers hard-earned wisdom and practical advice gained through decades of seeking to know Jesus and to follow his example and teachings in her own life. Unlike larger collections and biographies, which cover her radical views, exceptional deeds, and amazing life story, this book focuses on a more personal dimension of her life: Where did she receive strength to stay true to her God-given calling despite her own doubts and inadequacies and the demands of an activist life? What was the unquenchable wellspring of her deep faith and her love for humanity?
Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road by Timothy Keller
Tim Keller shows that caring for these people is the job of every believer, as fundamental to Christian living as evangelism, discipleship, and worship. But he doesn’t stop there. He tackles thorny issues as he shows how we can carry out this vital ministry as individuals, families, and churches.
Love Lives Here: Finding What You Need in a World Telling You What You Want by Maria Goff
Love Lives Here is a collection of stories that include the ways Maria and her husband, Bob, navigated family their way, without clear instructions or a road map. It’s about what they learned to make their lives meaningful and whimsical and how they created a space for their family to grow together while they reached outward.
Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together by Nacy DeMoss Wolgemuth
The Titus 2 model of older women living out the gospel alongside younger women is vital for us all to thrive. It is mutually strengthening, glorifies God, and makes His truth believable to our world. This is Christian community as God designed it. Read this book and take your relationships to new depths, that your life might find its fullest meaning as you adorn the gospel of Christ.
Are there any books I should add to the list? Let me know your recommendations in the comments.