Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Faith Expressed in Love

"What is important is faith expressing itself in love." 
~ Galatians 5:6b (NLT)
In this world it seems to me the most important thing people need to see from me as a Christian is one of the most difficult thing for me to do all the time.... expressing fully my faith through love. 
Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant,  it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints,  it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth.  Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. Love never fails. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (CEB)                                                                                                         
Now faith, hope, and love remain—these three things—and the greatest of these is love.~ 1 Corinthians 13:13 (CEB)
I want to love like that...surrendering my preferences about people to God’s loving ways!
But, lets be honest... don’t you agree that there are just some people who make it especially hard to love them sooo... Perfectly? After all...who doesn’t have at least one person in their life... a family member, co-worker, fellow christian....someone...who isn’t difficult to love? I’m not talking about just the ordinary “differences” we may have that challenge our love. No...I’m referring to that someone know...that person who is overly critical, selfish, seems a bit too mean-spirited and a few more adjectives I could add on... but I figure you get the point. 
My struggle in loving someone like this is not that I don’t want to love them or that I can’t “briefly” feel love towards just that sometimes as I try to hold on to any kind and loving thought towards them...well, let’s just doesn’t seem to take long for their critical words or unkind actions to wear me down and remove any vestige of love I may have gained!
Since I sincerely desire for my faith to express itself in love...I know the best thing I can do is to take this “problem person” to the Lord and pray...right? 

Well, the trouble with this kind of approach to prayer is I end up weaving my words into asking God to “fix” them instead of pursuing my request for help with me. 
This can be an easy trap to fall into if my focus is on the list of a person’s offenses and my dwelling on what they need “fixed” in order for me or anyone other than God to love them...Yikes!  
Besides...before I turned to Christ for my daily example of how to live, didn’t I once exhibit many of the very attributes of this person I now find the most difficult to love?  Thankfully, through the teaching of God’s Word and the Lord placing into my life many loving people who’s faith revealed in love...was shown to me...I have a better way of expressing myself than I once did.
Good sense makes one slow to anger,
    and it is his glory to overlook an offense.
~ Proverbs 19:11 ESV

How quick my emotions can cause me to have temporary spiritual amnesia when I forget that I can lean on God’s power inside of me to overlook an offense. My faith that is revealed by loving them instead of feeling angry or annoyed towards them brings glory to God. It also reveals what the power of Christ in me is able to overcome of my own frailties...and isn’t that what I really desire most? 

So with a renewed spirit of what I know I can (through Christ) do... but with emotions that were still tinged a bit with the frustration over how I instinctually felt... I prayed and asked God; “Why is all this so hard for me to do? Why can’t I just love this person as I know I should?” 

The Lord responded as He often does with me...He presented a question in return to mine own. “ Whose love are you applying ... yours or mine?” 

"My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." ~Galatians 2:20 (NLT)


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