Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:13
I was introduced to the Christian faith from since I was born. I heard about Jesus and He was a very big part of my life growing up. I knew of Him, admired Him and believed He was real. However, I never really saw what love truly looked like. All around me I saw hate, anger, bitterness and fear. I knew I wanted no part of these things but I had no clue what I was actually looking for as a replacement. My idea of God was a powerful being that held our spiritual future in His hands. We were to obey His rules and thus, escape judgement.
In the two major churches in my life, I didn’t see love either. I was force-fed their idea of what love was but it was just a mask. Everyone hid behind “perfection”, looking the part. You had to say the right things. You had to fit into the culture. Something hit me when I left this second time around.
Looking back at my own personal experience with God, I found true redemption. God stripped me of the legalistic mindset of good works as a means of winning His love, to finding His love as a free gift given through faith in Jesus. God was with me in my darkest moments, talking to me and comforting me, but I was too blind to see. He protected me from my poor choices and spoke to me in my dreams.
When I had my conversion moment, it was the day I saw God for who He truly was. A loving God. I started to measure the love people were force feeding me to the love He demonstrated. None compared! People were not mindful of what came out of their mouths. They would yell “hallelujah” and “praise God” and yet, they were tearing down other people. Gossip, malice, jealousy and even being fake! Imagine someone encouraging people to put on a fake smile when they clearly know they have something in their heart against another. Who are we fooling? Do we really think unbelievers are dumb? They can see through the facade. It made me check myself as well. I never claimed to be loving or anything of the sort, but I wanted to badly to understand what true love was.
I was not content with my environment and empty words. I was not content with empty acts of charity. God revealed to me that love comes from the heart. But where does a heart full of love come from?
I truly believe human beings are not capable of producing sincere love on their own. Every act of love and charity is a gift from God. He moves us to produce that first fruit of the spirit.
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. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)
*Screams* LOOK! It’s right there! “Against such things there is no law.” Love is a spirit! it’s spiritual.
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The windblows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:5-10 (ESV)
To break it down, laws are rigid. They are a check-list or a to-do list of what is wrong and if you do these wrong things, a judge pronounces judgement. However, those who are full of love or produce the spirit of love are free! This love is God’s spirit. It takes no shape or form. It cannot be manufactured. It cannot be conjured up. It comes from a transformed heart and flows out of it. This freedom comes from focusing on what or rather who. It comes from a place of grace: pointing us to God and Him covering our mistakes.
Love comes from a pure heart. Not one full of malice or hate. Before one can profess love, one must deal with their heart condition. Like David, one must fall before God and ask Him to clean their hearts. This is something we must do daily!
Instead of us worrying about specific isolated acts of love, we must focus on the well in which it springs from.
Our love must point to the perfect love of Christ. Our love doesn’t compare to the love Christ has for us but we are known by our love for others. It transforms the way we think about ourselves FIRST! Then, it bubbles over and spreads like a flood.
We focus so much on evangelism and preaching the word. Winning souls and conferences. Friday night bible studies and Church ministry when all it takes to be a disciple of Christ is to love him and acknowledge him in all our ways.
It’s simple. God is love. His love is real and tangible. His love is pure and true. His love changes things. We are simply the vessels His Spirit uses. We cannot boast in our imperfect love but we can brag all day about God’s love. We can share our testimony and our stories of God’s love with everyone we meet.
Love is not cussing out someone who makes you mad. It is also, apologizing if you do. It goes even further in understanding that our words can tear and break people. It is understanding that we must bless and not curse. It is embracing the fact that God fights for us. We have a God that loves us and we can pray for our enemies. When they hurt us, we pray and tell God how we feel. Then He will soothe and touch our hearts and help us to mend.
It is showing mercy. People are not living holy lives for your comfort or benefit. It for their own walk with God. So if you see a brother or sister stumbling, encourage them! If they fall, pick them up! Correction is also love. Don’t flatter and lie about sin to make people feel comfortable. In love, correct them. Love wants to see others succeed too.
Love is about someone else and not you. Love doesn’t keep track of all the good you have done. Love requires us to die. Love sometimes means we must walk away for the sake of peace and for good. Love also means not enabling others to sin.
Our love will never measure up but our love is simply an expression of the change God has done in us. Love lasts forever. Why? Because souls last forever. Chasing after material wealth and success, these things will fade. But human souls live forever. It gets passed down generation to generation. One act of kindness can change a life forever and their children’s, children’s, children.
My religion is love. It never fails.