Love

by Lester Young

Happy (belated) Holidays, everyone! As a special New Years gift, here’s one more ‘sneak-peak’ from my book, Kingdom Keys: A ‘How-to’ Guide for Flourishing in the Kingdom of God, available on Amazon. This chapter is simply called “Love,” and I hope you enjoy it:

Are you a parent? If you have a son or daughter, you probably understand more about God’s love than you may think you do. Of course, that statement’s not meant to diminish the breadth, length, depth and height of His love, which is so much more than we can presently comprehend with our natural minds (Ephesians 3:17-19). But, even so, if you love your children with all your heart, then you’ve got a pretty good picture of how the heavenly Father feels about His offspring.

Being a good parent, you naturally want the best for your kids, don’t you? You want them to be well-fed, well-clothed, well-adjusted, well-mannered, well-everything! You want to see them excel in school, have lots of friends, and have a joyful and generous spirit. And, if someone – anyone – hurts them, in word or deed, you feel their pain just as badly, and you’re instantly ready to retaliate. Why? Because that’s your Baby, that’s why! It’s a parent’s love, and it’s one of the most powerful forces on this earth.

Where do you suppose we got that personality trait from? Well, if we’re made in God’s image and after His own likeness as the Bible says (Genesis 1:26), then it’s ridiculously obvious where we picked it up. When He made Adam, God placed him in a carefully planned and constructed, fully-stocked garden to live. Everything he needed to not only survive but thrive was already given him by the LORD (Genesis 2:8-15). He had access to everything God has. If he had a question about anything, he even had access to God’s wisdom, because the two were in close personal fellowship every day. You could even go so far as to say, “they liked being around each other.” So, you can begin to see that the love we have for our children is born out of God’s love for His.

But, let’s just consider that for a few minutes. A parent’s natural love, although itself quite formidable, trifles in comparison with God’s love. In fact, if the truth be known, a parent’s love isn’t even the ‘absolute’ strongest natural love around. The Lord Himself stated as much when He declared, “greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Not for his children or family, but for his friends. Jesus quite clearly said no love is greater; and, if we ponder His statement for even a short time, we’ll begin to intuitively perceive its truth.

I’m sure that many parents, if given an all-or-nothing choice, would lay down their lives for their children. But, how many folks could you name who would make the same choice for a friend? No doubt the list would shrink rather dramatically. This in itself, therefore, shows that it takes at least as great love – if not greater – to love others in the same manner that we ‘naturally’ do our kids. And, if you know anything at all about God, then you just kind of know (or, if you didn’t know, you probably could have guessed) that’s precisely what He’s called us to do (John 13:15, 34; 15:12).

Now, if you’re wondering to yourself how you could ever begin to feel about other people (even good friends) the way you feel about your kids, there’s no need to panic. But, do take note that the thought itself provides your very first hint. God’s love, the spiritual love of the Father, is not based on or dependent upon our feelings (John 14:23-24). So, you don’t have to feel about others the way you feel about your children in order to love them just as much. Real love is based on our actions toward others, not our feelings. Indeed, it’s action-centered and not governed by emotions at all. This takes the issue completely out of the realm of the intangible and places it squarely within the arena of ‘choice.’ To put things bluntly, loving is a matter of our own personal will. Think about it: if you know the right way to act in every situation (regardless of how you may feel inside), then it simply boils down to the prospect of choosing to do so.

The Bible describes for us in almost ‘painful’ detail just how to act in love toward everyone at all times. These instructions are clearly and succinctly written down in 1 Corinthians 13 verses 4 to 8, and I’ve paraphrased and expounded on them just a bit here:

“First, love is longsuffering, but not with a nasty or mean disposition – it does so in gentle kindness. It refuses to become envious of others’ status or accomplishments or possessions, nor does it begin to boast over its own good fortune when it comes. It doesn’t have a proud or ‘better-than-thou’ attitude (verse 4). Love doesn’t behave rudely or in any other ugly manner. It doesn’t selfishly insist on its own rights or its own way – it yields to others and makes allowance for them. It isn’t easily angered – it quickly overlooks provocations that cause others to become touchy or irritable or resentful. Furthermore, it doesn’t keep a running record of those provocations or transgressions against itself, and thereby is able to continually think the best of everyone. It doesn’t allow any evil thoughts to remain in mind, take root and grow (verse 5). Love receives no joy or delight from any type of evil, wrongdoing, unrighteousness or injustice; but it’s filled with gladness when right, truth and justice prevail and are manifested in the land (verse 6). Nothing that comes along is too much for love to handle – its shoulders are broad enough to bear any load that may challenge it. It believes every ‘jot and tittle’ of God’s Word (Matthew 5:18), which is the Truth (John 17:17); and it boldly and intensely expects every promise of God to come to pass. It patiently endures and perseveres anything and everything that comes down the road without stumbling or weakening (verse 7). Love never becomes outmoded or outdated, it never stops or runs out or even cools down – which means that none of its actions, attributes or attitudes described above do, either – and it never fails to succeed when put into operation (verse 8).”

Now, as you read through that checklist, you might start getting a feeling of ‘cold feet,’ thinking you just don’t have what it takes to love the way those Scriptures say we should. But, I assure you – and, much more importantly, God assures you – you do. The Bible clearly states that “His love has been shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). So, it’s His love within us that we’re to use, not our own weak, feeling-based, natural love. God’s love is a fruit of His Spirit (Galatians 5:22) – the main fruit, in fact. That’s precisely the reason it’s listed first among all the fruits; the others all actually stem from it. And, 1 Corinthians 13:13 declares that, although faith and hope also abide forever with it, love is the greatest – the largest, eldest, strongest, highest, and most important – of those three.

Jesus neatly wrapped up the whole issue by telling His disciples simply to “love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He could rightly make that summation and simplification because love is the complete fulfilling of the Law (Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14) – it works no evil whatsoever toward its neighbor (Romans 13:10). We can, therefore, correctly deduce that the whole totality of the Law is simply ‘love’ (James 2:8) – which really shouldn’t be all that surprising, since that’s precisely what God is (1 John 4:16).

Listen, we don’t have to bow to the notion that we could never love as the Lord Jesus did (and still does), because it just isn’t true. We, as God’s children along with our elder brother Jesus, have been given everything we need in order to do what He’s commanded us to do (Hebrews 13:20-21; 2 Peter 1:3). We already have His love in our hearts, along with the User’s Manual of how to identify and apply it (1 Corinthians 13, along with the entire rest of the Holy Bible). We already have all the fruits of His Spirit.

But, that fruit only does any good if it’s let out for use. When we act according to God’s love (regardless of whether we feel like it or not), when we conduct ourselves in a manner that blesses and gives grace to those around us, then and only then are we actually bringing forth fruit. What we do identifies and manifests the spirit that’s working within us – whether it’s God’s, or something else. Remember, God doesn’t just have love, He is love. And, we, as His children, are supposed to be love, too; because, as He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17). So, let’s just choose to be so!

Kingdom Keys: A ‘How-to’ Guide for Flourishing in the Kingdom of God is full of down-to-earth insights about how to walk successfully and prosperously in God’s Kingdom right here on earth. It’s available now on Amazon.  Get it, read it, and feel free to let me know what you think.  Thanks very much for your interest and support, and I hope it greatly blesses you!

 

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4 Comments to “Love”

  1. Excellent panorama of Love, Lester! Happy New Year to you and yours!

    • Hi, Dee.

      It’s amazing when you actually think about it…that Love actually comes with simple ‘instructions’ that we all can follow if we simply choose to (i.e., 1 Corinthians 13). As usual, God leaves us no real excuse, such as “I don’t know how,” when it’s right there in The Book lol. Thanks very much, Dee, and an exceedingly blessed and joy-filled New Year to you and your house, as well!

      Lester

  2. Such a blessing that you bring the word of God to life with practical application. Thank you so much.

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