“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4: 7-10).

Sherwood “Woody” Wert once owned a little yellow Model A Ford roadster. It was the joy of his life and he loved to drive it; but he didn’t love having to maintain it. After he neglected to put oil in it, a connecting rod ripped through the engine block. That was the end of the yellow roadster. He later drew the parallel that just as a car must have oil, so, too, we must have the oil of the Holy Spirit. Without it, we will end up like the roadster. Being filled with the oil of the Spirit means, in part, that we’re to be filled with God’s love and compassion.

Woody made a list of ten characteristics of the Holy Spirit that he found in the Bible. Years later, he concluded that love belonged in first place on that list. We can see this emphasis in 1 John 4:7-10, which may be so familiar that the extreme emphasis on love doesn’t adequately sink in. But these truths are ones in which we must immerse ourselves in order to awaken ourselves to God’s astounding love. “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” We receive that love as we open ourselves to the presence and power of the Lord and share it with one another. “Do you want more love in your life?” asks Woody Wert. “Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with love. He will do it.”

Adapted from The One Year Book of Encouragement