The ultimate expression of the character of God in our lives is love. Paul said it was the greatest of all. God is never spoken of as "self-control" or "kindness," but we do have the statement that "God is love." Love is all-inclusive. Love is expressed first toward God, then toward our brothers and sisters, and finally toward a needy world.
When we think of love, what comes to our mind? A feeling? A general ideal? A goal that we never quite reach? Love is none of these. Listen to Paul: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (I Cor. 13:4-8). Notice that all of these are things we do. Love is God in action. God so loved that He gave Himself. When all of the other areas that Peter speaks about begin to work in our lives, they will bring us to this one point of giving of ourselves. Until we know what it means to give of ourselves, we do not yet know what love is. And until we grow up to the place where the whole expression of our lives is love, in the words of Paul, we are nothing more than sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. Love is so vast that it embraces everything that God is. Yet it is so practical that it affects the smallest detail of my life.
It cannot be overemphasized that we can only experience the fullness of God's love together. "...That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:17-20). It is here that we seem to pull back so many times. If we want to enter into the purpose of God, we dare not pull back, but in faith we must give of ourselves to God and to one another. This means dropping the barriers and beginning to build spiritual relationships with each other. This takes time, effort, commitment, and most of all, God.