Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Galatians 5:6b

    The second part of Galatians 5:6 was used powerfully by the Holy Spirit the other morning when I was doing the dishes. I was thinking about someone in my life that I'm sort of having a hard time with.

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." 

That's what the Lord said to me about the situation. Um... ok, but I do love this person so my faith is being expressed, right? Well, sort of. But the thing is God looks at the thoughts and intentions of the heart, not only outward things. And in my mind, where only He can see, I wasn't being so loving.

 I "love" this person so much but there are certain aspects of character that make me pull back and think not-so-loving, and rather critical thoughts about them. And it's hard to speak about it because I think everyone may have a person {or more than 1} that they can relate to like this, but I don't want to make it seem OK on my part, because it's not. It's not OK to not love, if you claim Christ as your Lord and Savior.

But I'm learning that 'love' is a funny word that is used so carelessly these days. I mean, I can say 'I love my husband' and 'I love pizza' in the same conversation and although most would assume I actually do LOVE my husband and I just really enjoy pizza, we use the same word for both so the power and intensity of the word is becoming dull and doesn't give it's full effect.

So what does love really mean? Especially in the context of Galatians 5:6? How do we show our faith in God via loving people? Is it just being nice to them? Anyone can do that- even non believers are nice to their friends. Isn't it more than just saying the words 'I love you' to a person?

As the Lord showed me this verse directly in context to the person I was not being very loving to {in my own thoughts, not outwardly!}- I had to ask myself a hard question...

'Do I actually, really, truly LOVE this person or do I have a sentimental or emotional connection to them so that I say and maybe even think that I love them, without real love being there??' Because I can care about a person to a certain level and not actually love them. But what happens when you've used the term 'love' for so long and realize you don't actually have a genuine love for them at all?

Now- let's get something clear- I DO have a genuine love for this person, AND that sentimental thing I was talking about. So things can get a little grey. And I do believe that emotions are good and are given to us from God to be blessed by and controlled properly. But when we're run by our emotions rather than genuine characteristics that we receive by God {such as His love} then we get into problems. Self-control of our emotions is of huge importance, and the Word talks to us about worshiping God in spirit and truth {John 4:24}...which means our whole lives {emotions included!} should be lived and led by the Holy Spirit and in truth. So basically I'm just saying- worldly, human love is different than godly, Holy Spirit love. And the Spirit teaching us how to love His way, is a learned and practiced thing.

So my next question to the Lord was, 'Then how do I love the people that you've given me to love?' What do I do? Especially since I'm geographically so far from the majority of the people I know? And He said,

"There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for his friends. " John 15:13

So we should die for people if we really love them...yes. And here's how. Our lives in Christ are to be more and more selfless as we go on. For the most part, most of us aren't literally going to die for any of our friends, but for those that we say we love, we should and can take time out of our self focused lives and pray for them. And I mean that in a consistent and concentrated way, not just a quick prayer because they got the flu one time and asked for a quick recovery.

Romans 8:34 says "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died- more than that, who was raised- who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us." 


1 Peter 4:8 says "Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other,  for love covers a multitude of sins."

For me, managing my household, including raising 3 young kids and gearing up for a 4th, plus serving the Lord outside our home is a very very time consuming life. But if I say I love a person, it's power comes when I MAKE TIME to come before the King of all Kings on their behalf, just as Jesus does for us. To pray for His love to consume them...for His protection...for His transforming power in their lives...for their families... their health... and even when we see sin or faults- for the Lord's mercy on them. There are countless things we can always be praying for and that's true love.  And believe me, it truly takes a laying down of my life to actually pray for others that way and not just to tell them I love them or that I'll be praying for them and instead letting myself be consumed with my own life and interests. And amazingly enough, I notice that for those who I do consistently pray for, my genuine love for them grows! It's the Holy Spirit love at work and not just my human affection love working.

I don't want my word love to be weak, like saying 'I love pizza' and just a careless or sentimental thing. I want my word love to be attached to the power of God. Let the pizza and other things get their proper word  such as 'I like pizza' or 'I enjoy ______.' And let's love each other like we mean it. Let's pray!