If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3
As I read these scriptures, memories flooded my mind. Memories of the long lost days of motherhood with young children and memories of seasons of my own growth in the Lord. I remember asking my children to do things they didn’t really want to do. The arguments and attitudes would shine through. They eventually would stomp off and do what I asked them to do begrudgingly. God has used my children like He has used those beautiful clear lakes I talked about in the last blog post. They were a mirror of my own attitudes and actions towards God. There were moments when my children stomped away, and aggravations filled my heart along with a deep longing for them to obey just because they loved me and trusted I had their best interests in mind at that moment.
God would bring a slight conviction to my heart. I would feel that pinch that comes with the conviction, and I would listen for what came next. He showed me that was who I am with Him many moments. Their attitudes and actions at that moment certainly didn’t reflect a love for me, and many times my words and actions have not reflected a love for God.
I am brought back to seasons of my Christian walk where legalism and religious attitudes abounded. I took pride in how I tried to have a boxed-in time with God each day, along with my checklist of dos and don’ts. I tried to pray with elegant words and look the part. I was surrounded by others who were doing the same, or at least we were on the day we went to Church.
My heart filled with memories of times when people were nice just to get something from me, and in my own times of desperation and struggle, I did that to others. I remembered times when my heart was in so much pain, and the words that flew out of my mouth, even though they might have been right, were completely wrong. I remember being on the other side of those who have been hurt and those who knew what I should be doing better and let me know it.
Holman’s Concise Commentary says this: “Higher than all the gifts of the Spirit is the grace of Heavenly love. Paul declared that even the most spectacular manifestations of the gifts, even tongues, or prophecy, mean nothing unless motivated by love. Christians may be talented, gifted, devoted, generous in their giving, or endowed with mountain-moving faith; but it is of no value if love is not present.”
Without love, our actions and our words are meaningless. It is the action of doing in and with the motivation of love that makes them meaningful and fruitful. This includes our spiritual gifts and how we use them.
Religion and Legalism breed works that are done out of duty and not love. Relationship with Jesus breeds works done through the love we receive from Him.
I remember sitting in prayer groups, struggling and wrestling, knowing the Holy Spirit was filling me with things to pray, yet hearing the enemy taunting me about how simple my words were compared to others who were praying. He would taunt me about the things I hadn’t done right that week, trying to make me feel unworthy to be a part of the prayer time. We can speak with eloquent words or teach with intelligent words, yet be empty words to the Father because our motivation is something other than love. We can speak and teach with simple words trusting God will use those words and deliver them in His love to others.
I don’t know about you, but this brings me a quiet place with God, asking Him to examine our hearts like King David.
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my anxious thoughts;
And see if there be any hurtful way in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way. Psalm 139:23-24
When we spend time with God, is it out of love for Him and a desire to know Him, or is it to say we did it for the day or check the box?
When we raise our hands in worship, is it to be seen as spiritual and worshipful, or is it in reverence of who He is and to worship Him in the spirit in truth, out love for Him?
When we speak truth into someone’s life, including our children and spouse, do we do that with a heart of love for the other person, desiring to see God’s best for them, or are we just wanting to be right or in control, or do we have a heart that wants to put them in their place and set them straight?
When we pray, do we worry about sounding like others, instead of just allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through us, and communicate with the One who loves us more than anything?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
Bear One Another’s Burdens
Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Galations 5:22-6:1
We can’t do this on our own. We can only do it with God through the Holy Spirit. We can only do this as we live by the Spirit and not the flesh. I am thankful for this. There is freedom in this truth. I know as I rely on Him, and I surrender myself to Him and allow myself to be lead by the Holy Spirit, dying to my flesh, He can help me love Him and others this way.
He can give that heart of compassion and love for others that speaks truth with a heart that wants to see them restored the way God has restored us.
He can fill us and penetrate us in way that causes our voices and hands to be raised towards Him.
He can strengthen and equip us to do those things He is calling us to do with a heart motivated by love, even the hard things we don’t want to do.
This is truth and this is freeing.
We won’t always do this perfectly, but I want to encourage us to pray that scripture in Psalm 139:23-24 daily. Let us surrender our hearts before Him, allowing Him to examine them and shine His light where there may be attitudes and brokenness that needs to be healed, so our hearts can be in the right place as we live with God and with others.
Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your love for us. We need You to examine our hearts today. We come before You laying our hearts at Your feet, asking You to show us those areas that need to be adjusted, and healed, so that we might walk this journey here on earth, motivated by Your love. Help us to see ourselves and others through Your eyes and continue to show us what Your love really looks like. Help us not to accept any other definition of love but Yours. In Jesus’ Name! Amen!