Monday, April 18, 2016
Start Your Week in the Word - Monday - Spiritual Fruit: Love
As I shared last week, we have just started Beth Moore's Daniel study together. A quote had me thinking about something I'm really starting to try to emphasize with Shelby when we talk about behavior. The fruit of the spirit.
"Tact. We [Christians] could all use an extra dose ... Because so much is at stake." - Beth Moore, Daniel pg 35.
Daniel approached the commander in charge of slaying the wise men of Babylon, and in turn the king, tactfully in order to ask for time to beseech God for the revelation of and answer to Nebuchadnezzar's dream.
Often what I'm asking of Shelby is, especially in her interactions and attitudes, to display tact. To be salt. To bring a pleasant flavor to her words. Especially kindness ... I feel like I'm emphasizing kindness to her a lot in her interactions with Victoria.
What better guide for teaching tact; teaching a way to interact with the world that leaves them hungry to hear more about this Jesus we give glory to, than to display the Fruit of the Spirit?
For if we say we are of the Spirit, Galations clearly states that there will be certain evidences in our lives. I'd like to take the next several weeks exploring what the Bible has to say about each one. What does it look like when our lives display love, joy, peace, patience [forbearance], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control?
The first fruit listed is love. The entire Bible is a love-story. But certain points stand out as being applicable in our unique position to let God move through us to touch others.
Jesus said that the greatest commandment was to love our neighbors as ourselves. The first time this law, this Golden Rule, is mentioned can actually be found in the Old Testament:
While I have been guilty of practicing a type of false-humility called self-deprecation, in general we're pretty good at loving ourselves. We take care of our needs, we are interested in what interests us. God has for millennia been asking us to do that for the people around us.
Jesus even goes so far as to say to love one another as HE loved us. So in case we think we're off the hook because we beat ourselves up in a sick kind of pseudo and self-centered manipulation of humility. Think again. Jesus loved us perfectly. To the point of death. We are to love one another even if it costs us everything. Even when the recipient doesn't deserve it, appreciate it, or even receive it.
Furthermore, he echoes one of the commands to the Israelites. That we show HIM love with our obedience. I haven't written further on this before and won't drag you down that trail again; but obedience to God is equated to love. No amount of service, dedication, prayer, song, sacrifice, or selflessness will ever make up for a lack of obedience.
Corinthians gives us an entire list of what love is, and is not, to help us see how to love others.
I can't help but notice the way the list of things love does echoes the list of fruits of the Spirit in our lives: Rejoice [joy], patient, kind, bear [patient], believe [faithfulness], hope [isn't it easier to maintain self-control when one has hope?].
The fact is, love is at the very heart of every word of the Bible. It is the love story from God to us. It is what He most desires for us and from us. So we start with love because without it other fruits and gifts are hollow and ring insincere. Love is always the answer, because when nothing else remains love will still be standing. Nothing done in love, true love as defined by God and flowing from His Spirit within us, is going to be wrong.