"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does."
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
1 John 3:18
I continually struggle with how to love others. I try harder and harder, often to no avail. I have realized recently that there-in lies my problem: I try. I read and hear the call on God's people to love one another and I want to respond in obedience. I want to figure out what it looks like and do it. Simple. Make up my mind to love and do it. And then I walk out the door and blow it; over and over again.
God's Word leads me to see that I must be about "doing" the work of connecting to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit through the Word, through prayer, and through interaction in the community of God's people. Out of this connection with God, through Christ and His Spirit, love will flow.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
Then out of that connection with God, I must move into obedience. I then must do something. But only out of connecting to God's love and His power can I "do". And I believe all I can do is simply be obedient and depend on God.
Recently I talked with a group of women about how I am wired and how I use my spiritual gifts, passion and talents in ministry. In looking back over the years at my journey of discovering where God wants to use me, I realized that it never came when I was "trying". All the spiritual gifts tests and personality tests didn't lead me to that place. I do think they are valuable as tools, but they don't give direction. God does. What I see when I look back is that through my desire to be obedient to God I have served. He called our church to a particular vision and mission and I made the decision to be obedient and simply serve where He called the church. Through serving, then, God gave direction. Through serving I have discovered my spiritual gifts, my passions and my talents. It was kind of like exercising muscles I didn't know I had. If I had not done the exercising, I would not have found the muscles!
So, I think the same may be true in other areas God is calling me. Connected to Him, dependent on Him, and obediently practicing love, compassion, mercy, kindness to others, etc., I may actually find that I am able to love, be compassionate, be merciful, be kind. In faith I make a decision to be obedient, to exercise God's call on me, and find muscles I didn't know I had.
Ironically, this has been my experience in art and creativity as well. Practice. Do. Find creative muscles I didn't know I had!