March 19, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Love, Part Two
Melissa Taylor, Certified Speaker
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23 NIV
Yesterday we looked at two principles of love: 1) Love is an act of the will and 2) Love is action, not just words. Today, we will examine three more: 3) Love reaches out to the unlovely. 4) We need God's help to love us. 5) Love expects nothing in return. (Taken from "A Woman's Walk With God, Growing in the Fruit of the Spirit" by Elizabeth George.)
Love reaches out to the unlovely. There are many Biblical examples of Jesus reaching out to unlovely and unlovable people: the leper, the prostitute, the adulterer, the tax collector, just to name a few. He does the same thing today. How does God reach out to you? I don't know about you, but I'm pretty "unlovely" at times. He loves me still. Romans 5:6 reports, "We were living against God." "We were God's enemies", states Romans 5:10. Have you ever thought of yourself as God's enemy? Have you ever turned against God? Have you ever done something that God wouldn't want you to do? Lied? Cheated? Gossiped? Acted in disobedience? Disrespected your husband? Lost patience with your children? These are all examples of ugliness at its best. "There is none righteous, not even one...All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:10, 23) Max Lucado says, "It isn't that we can't do good. We do. It's just that we can't keep from doing bad." We, my good friends, are unlovely! Yet we are so loved by God. We are forgiven, cleansed, purified, reconciled, and then put back together----by God! Jesus was born the same way we were all born but He came bearing an extraordinary purpose. He came to save us ordinary, unlovely people, paying for our mistakes so we wouldn't have to. He was always focused on love, His desire, passion, and purpose to bring His children home behind every step He took.
We need God to help us love. "Apart from Me, you can do nothing", said Jesus in John 15:5. Even Jesus recognized His need for His Father. Notice how all through Jesus' life, He studied the scriptures and made time for prayer. How else could He love the unlovely? In our natural state, we hate our enemies. Look at this principle again.
We need God to help us love. That's right, we do. We need God to help us love because He knows we can't do it alone nor were we ever meant to. We are not to love for our sake, but for His sake. We wouldn't need a Savior if we could do it alone. God wouldn't be our Provider if we were self sufficient. And when it comes to love we are completely helpless to love on our own. Look at what He did for us. Romans 5:5 says, "God has poured out His love to fill our hearts. He gave us love through the Holy Spirit whom God has given to us." You see, we do need God's help to love. He stands ready, every minute of every day, to love through us.
Love expects nothing in return. I must admit that this truth is the hardest one for me to practice on a regular basis. It's easy to understand, but hard to do. Just this morning, I brought my husband, Jeff, a cup of coffee while he was having his quiet time. He didn't say thank you or anything. I got a little huffy, because I had walked all the way upstairs to deliver it. Fortunately, the Lord brought "His love" to my mind and this principle. I didn't bring Jeff the coffee for a thank you. I did it because I love him and I know how hard he's been working lately. That should be enough. I don't say "thank you" to God for all the things He does for me on a moment by moment basis. And He still loves me. Let's look to the cross to bring this principle home.
Jesus paid for our mistakes so we wouldn't have to. Remember John 3:16. God loves us so much that He gave the life of His one and only Son - for us. There is nothing that we have to do or can do in order to earn this love. It's free. When I look at it like that, it makes my pity party over the coffee look just plain stupid! I was trying to charge at least a "thank you" for coffee. It's supposed to be free, expecting nothing in return. Accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior, believing in Him...that's all that's required of us in order to experience His love. We don't have to do anything in return. He did it all. While hanging on the cross (for you and me) in excruciating pain, He demonstrated a love like no other.
To really love someone like Christ loves is indeed a challenging call. But we can do it - if we do it through Him. Philippians 4:13 tells us that we can do everything through Him who gives us strength. If we could do it alone, this verse would just say, "I can do everything" and stop there. But we can't do everything. We can't do it all. "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." Let those words bring you comfort. You need God.
You can fulfill Jesus' command in John 15:12 (to love like He loves), but you just can't do it alone. Spend time with God. Have a quiet time and guard it. Go to Him for momentary "fill ups". He is your Source and can fill your heart with all the love you'll ever need.
My prayer for today:
Lord, thank you for filling my heart with love. I need you to help me share my love with others. I confess that I often expect something in return for the love I give to others. Help me to love as you love, expecting nothing in return. I pray that I will be one that reaches out to everyone, even the "unlovely". In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Practice doing things for others out of love, expecting nothing in return. Ask God to reveal to you the areas that you need help in loving those around you.
Do I ask God to help me love?
Do I love just those who are easy to love, or is my love offered to everyone?
Do I expect anything in return when I do something for a friend? My husband? My children?
What is one way that I can show my love for someone today?
Am I filling up with God's love each day?
1 Corinthians 13:5 Love is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. NIV
Philippians 4:13 I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. NIV
John 15:5 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing." NIV
John 15:17 "This is my command: Love each other." NIV
John 15:12 "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." NIV
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart by Lysa TerKeurst
The Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes
P31 Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries