A Genuine Love
“The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.” (Psalm 147:11)
Over the next few weeks we will look at the characteristics of a Holy Spirit controlled person: One filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). We all agree that these are good traits we’d like to show more of in our lives. We can work at being more loving, more peaceful, more faithful, and gentler, but we will fail if we do it by will power alone. Growing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is a cooperative effort between us and God.
The first evidence of the Spirit’s working in our hearts is love. Once we have experienced God’s love for us, we find it easier to love Him back and to love others around us. How would we describe the special love God has for us?
He did not accidentally fall in love, rather, He decided to love us. He chose to make us His own before we were even born (Ephesians 1:4).
God’s love for us has as its purpose our knowing and enjoying Him. He doesn’t love us as objects; rather, He wants to be in relationship with us (Isaiah 62:5).
God’s love for us is unconditional. It is not based on our merit, behavior, or response. It is initiated and sustained by God (Romans 5:8).
God’s love is transforming. He heals our emotional wounds and opens our hearts to receive ever-increasing measures of the love He gives (Ephesians 3:18).
That love is there for us. We just have to be open to receive it. We do that by centering our soul, our minds, our emotions, and our energy on Him and enjoying the love He pours into us (Romans 5:5). When we are full to the brim, the fruit of love begins to show in our lives. In fact, we won’t be able to hold ourselves back from being more loving toward those around us.
Here’s what that might look like: We will find that we accept things in others that were not so acceptable to us before God showed us how to love even the unlovable. One reason we will be able to accept others (without asking them to change to deserve our love) is that we recognize that God is in the people-changing business so we don’t have to be. What a relief! We can focus on our relationship with God and let the Spirit take care of changing those around us who need to be changed (John 4:8 and 21).
This also means that people don’t have to be like us for us to show love to them. The Good Samaritan seemed to have no problem loving someone who had not earned his love and someone who was different from himself (Romans 12: 10). The injured Jew was not required to change so he could deserve the love of the Samaritan. Love that accepts the other is evidence of the working of the Spirit in our lives.
Another characteristic of God-like love in our hearts is forgiveness. Jesus once said that those who are forgiven much love much. In our love for others, we need to be willing to forgive as Christ forgave us (Colossians 3:13). Before we were lovable, before we were perfect, before we were all cleaned up and connected to God, Jesus died to bring us forgiveness. The more we allow the Spirit to control us, the more forgiving we will be toward those who have wronged us.
Another part of love as the Spirit reveals it to us is giving. True love gives. Think about it. When you are in love, you want to buy gifts, you want to cook dinners, you want to show your love in tangible ways. The love grown within us by the Spirit will do the same. We will see those around us who are in need and give to them. We will give up our place in line, give of our time, give of our money, and we will share our homes and open our hearts (1 John 3:17-18).
If God is going to test our ability to love, He will probably not do so with someone who is just like us. He may send someone difficult to accept, to give to, and to forgive. Someone unlovable by worldly standards. Will we pass the test?
“Faith makes all things possible . . . love makes all things easy.” – Dwight L. Moody