May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. (1 Thess. 3:12)

As I raise two sons, one of my first concerns is their spiritual formation. I’ve asked many more experienced parents how they taught their children about God and received many different answers. But one of the friends I respect most explained that she had her children memorize a catechism that included answers to over one hundred theological questions.

Her reasoning was simple: if a child understands the logic of the gospel and knows its complexities inside and out, that child will at least have the tools to act rightly. It seemed simple when she told me this, given all the verses and stories that encourage internalizing Scripture, not to mention rich traditions in the church like catechism and Scripture memorization.

But just as a child’s faith matures by practice and study, a Christian community sees tangible fruit when it dedicates itself to Christlikeness. Like young believers, friendships, marriages, and churches need to strive toward maturity. And when that manifests as love within the community first, it will lead to love outside the community next. Again, this pattern reflects the Trinity itself, which has always existed, and yet whose love overflowed in the form of a very good creation.

Although no measure is perfect except God’s, one good indicator of a community’s holiness is whether it spills out in the form of love to those outside the community.

Consider whether your Christian community loves those outside it’s walls.

Lindsey Priest is an Indiana Wesleyan University graduate and lives in Arkansas with her husband and two sons. She likes to read to the kids, play video games with her husband, and refurbish furniture.

© 2019 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission.