Fruits of the Spirit – LOVE (Part 3)

“But if anyone has this world’s goods (resources for sustaining life) and sees his brother and fellow believer in need, yet closes his heart of compassion against him, how can the love of God live and remain in him?  Little children, let us not love [merely] in theory or in speech but in deed and in truth (in practice and sincerity)” 1 John 3:17-18 (AMP).

I have a confession.  In the natural, I am not what you would call a selfless person.  I am, in fact, rather selfish without meaningful prayer, consistent study, and concerted effort.  I can spend a great deal of time with “me” on my mind.  I can be easily persuaded by my own needs, wants, and desires.  Before helping others, I often considered what was in it for me or what it would cost me.  If I thought it was going to cost me too much, or that I would not receive the accolades I selfishly thought I deserved, I would forgo the opportunity to help someone in need.  Basically, I thought too much and did too little.  It was just easier to assume others would help.  After all, that assumption cost me nothing.

So, who am I to teach anyone the importance of a deeper love walk when I have just confessed to you that my personal love walk is often tenuous?  If you are asking yourself this same question, you are not alone.  Satan began battering my mind before my feet hit the floor this morning.  He urgently reminded me of my natural, selfish tendencies.  He almost had me convinced he was right … that I was just a nobody … that God could not possibly use me as His instrument … that I was too damaged or flawed for anyone to take seriously.  For a period of time, I allowed him to steer me off into an emotional ditch where I wallowed pitifully in the mud (again, ME on my mind).  Once I recognized satan’s ploy and the stronghold he was attempting to get, God brought to my mind something I once heard.  “The light shines brightest through a cracked pot.” The reality is, we are all broken in one way or another. The goal is to do better.  When we know better, we should do better.  So, if candidly revealing my own faults and weaknesses sparks a desire in others to do better, then I humbly offer myself for this purpose.  Chew on that, satan!

In my life, and especially during my career as a criminal prosecutor, I have seen some despicable, wicked things.  Like many of you, I have often wondered why God does not do something to extirpate the evil in today’s world.  Over the years, I have come to realize that God works through His people. We are not waiting on God to do something.  He is waiting on us.  He is waiting for us to remove those invisible “do not disturb” signs hanging on our lives and show the world Jesus.

Did you know that every believer has within them the desire to be and do good?  While this is indeed a reality, I am sure many of you scoffed at the notion.  You may have even created a mental list of those you know to be seemingly bad people.  I am sure we can all agree that some people are just downright difficult to love.  Certainly, it is easy to be good to people who are good to you, but ask yourself a serious question.  What would happen if God waited until we truly deserved it before being good to us?  I would be willing to venture a guess that most of our lives would be a lot less blessed and a lot more lackluster.

God has called us to deeper level of obedience.  2 John 1:6 tells us,  “[a]nd this is love: that we walk in accordance with His commandments and are guided continually by His precepts. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should [always] walk in love” (AMP).  We are to walk in love always  … not just when it is convenient or easy … not only when we feel like it.  No, God commands us to walk in love continuously and consistently. 

Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan. “A certain man was going from Jerusalem down to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him of his clothes and belongings [unconcernedly] leaving him half dead, as it happened.  Now by coincidence, a certain priest was going down along that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.  A Levite likewise came down to the place and saw him, and passed by on the other side [of the road].  But a certain Samaritan, as he traveled along, came down to where he was; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity and sympathy [for him].  And went to him and dressed his wounds, pouring on [them] oil and wine.  Then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  And the next day he took out two denarii [two day’s wages] and gave [them] to the innkeeper, saying, Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I [myself] will repay you when I return” (Luke 10:30-35 (AMP).  Notice what the Samaritan did not do.  Unlike the priest and Levite, he did not look the other way or refuse to draw near the man in order to assess his needs.  He did not put any limits on what he was willing to do to help.  He did not consider how much it would cost him.  He did not consider his own schedule or any inconvenience caring for the man might cause.  What he did do was show the man love and kindness by helping him.  He met the man’s practical needs.

Mistreating people displeases God.  “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequence of sin).  Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive, or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseless of any kind).  And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted, (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you” Ephesians 4:30-32 (AMP).  God instructs us to love one another with our thoughts, our words, and our behavior.  We should not use these things to mistreat others.

It is easy to forget how important it is to walk in love.  In John 13:34 Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment; that you should love one another.  Just as I have loved you, so you too should love one another” (AMP).  I believe one of the best ways to tell others about Jesus is simply to love them.  We should live out the selfless, sacrificial love that we have received from Jesus in all our ways.   It does not have to be overly complicated.  For example, showing a clerk just learning to use the cash register patience when you are in a hurry costs you little.  Offering a co-worker whose car is in the shop a ride to or from work costs you little.  Gathering donations to help a single, working mother pay her rent costs you little.  Defending a person whose reputation is being wrongfully challenged costs you little.  I am certain you get my point here.

Imagine a world where every believer actually acted like one in everyday life and not just on Sundays.  Imagine a world where we could eradicate selfishness and bring others to know Jesus simply by performing selfless acts of love.  What a wonderful way to honor God!  We have a choice to make.  We can either be like the priest and Levite and concern ourselves only with our wants and needs, or we can be like the Good Samaritan and love despite any costs.  Which will you choose?

love-like-jesus

© 2016 by Kelli Hammond Mills.  All rights reserved.

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