Tuesday, May 3, 2016

the fluency of our faith (part 5)

What exactly does true love look like?
How does God's Word instruct us to love well?

Today let's look at the characteristics of God (Love) as defined in 1 Corinthians 13.  Equally, let's compare the significance, importance, and availability of God's Spirit to those who claim Jesus as Savior and Lord.  You see, the fruit of Christ's Spirit actually produces the goodness of God's love within us.  In fact, scripture says that those who belong to Christ are called to walk in step with His Spirit.  What an honor, right?  But first, let's recap on 1 Corinthians 13 and review the unchanging characteristics of LOVE...

Love is patient, 
Love is kind. 
It does not envy, 
It does not boast, 
It is not proud.  
It does not dishonor others, 
It is not self-seeking, 
It is not easily angered, 
It keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.   
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Patience, kindness, unselfish, humility... these traits all represent God's eternal agape love.  When scripture says, "Love is patient, love is kind," it is not merely suggesting how love should be.  It is defining WHO love is.  God is love.  Love is God.  As such, God is patient, God is kind.  God is unselfish, humble, uplifting, consistent, forgiving, healthy, everlasting.  Furthermore, because God and Love are One and the same, we can conclude that He always intended for us to mirror His love, since He created us in His image.  Yes, our generous Creator originally made us to know and model His love firsthand as we commune with Him regularly.  This is the joyous life that God has always offered mankind.  And thankfully, even after man's betrayal against Him, Jesus selflessly gave Himself as our sacrifice so that we might be able to commune freely with God's Spirit.  Hallelujah!  All praise and glory belongs to our great God who demonstrates His unchanging love for us.  Let us choose to live in worship of His good and holy Name.  He is the gift.  He is our benefit!

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

So, how do we deliberately display God's love in our day-to-day lives?  This is where Galatians 5 instructs us...

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.  So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. (Galatians 5:13-26)

The fruit of God's Spirit... the fruit that He will produce in us as we follow Jesus' Way instead of our own: 
  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience 
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self Control

There is not a person alive (Christian or not) that would not wish to gain the benefits noted in the list above.  Despite man's acceptance or denial, God's fruit is always desirable and necessary for our health and happiness.  We were made to want and need what His Spirit can harvest in and around us.  

But know this: Scripture clearly states that if we walk by His Spirit, we will not gratify the desires of our flesh.  You see, the only thing that counts in life is faith expressing itself through Christ's love.  He alone is all that matters.  Sin cannot be a part of the equation.  Because sin, and the human flesh it feeds, will never be permitted in God's kingdom.  So, in order to gain God's characteristics... in order to love well... we must choose to walk upright in Christ's holiness and fix our eyes on the Savior forever.   Jesus is the only One who can lead us into God's righteousness.  Jesus is the only One who can restore us to completion with the Creator of heaven and earth.  

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  (Hebrews 12:1-2) 

As we wrap up this study, I encourage you to pause and reflect on all that Romans chapter 8 states. Consider every word written and note the impact and importance of following Christ.   For without Jesus, there can be no love.  Without God's guidance and holiness, there will be no spiritual fruit produced in us.  We must die daily to ourselves in order to live whole-heartedly for His benefit.

Let us be devoted to the God who gives... to the God who IS Love!  Let us always choose His perfect image as our model and purpose. For without God's love... without Jesus... we are nothing.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.  

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. 

But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 

For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. 
Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. 
But the greatest of these is love.
(1 Corinthians 13)

Question: What exactly does true love look like?  
Answer: Jesus!

Question: How does God's Word instruct us to love well?  
Answer: By mirroring and glorifying Christ's image each and every day... forever!

Conclusion: Jesus is the fluency of our faith.  

(...or as I like to say, "The answer is always, always Jesus.")

God bless!


© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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