As the New Year unfolds I chose my theme/word for the year: Love. Lesson No.1: It is not about what I will do. Rather, it is about who I am and who I become as a follower of Christ – who I am in Him, because of His love for me. The character of who I am as a follower of Christ is most important. It’s a character that recognizes and confesses my need for God.
Matt 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
When I recognize how much I need God, I am more willing to empty myself of my self-sufficiency and fill myself with Him instead. The need can only be met through his love for me. Love trusts. When I accept his love I trust it over my self-reliance. I don’t insist on my own way, or my own set of rights and am less likely to want to impose my way on others.
Jer31:3 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
When I accept God’s love for me, I develop a healthy hesitancy in my words and actions. I can respond instead of reacting to circumstances and people. Responding is using awareness of the needs and feelings of others to phrase what I need to say. It leaves room for pause and consultation with the Sprit. Reacting, is saying whatever comes off the top of my head, regardless of how it affects others.
Pv 15:28 “The heart of the righteous weighs it’s answers.”
When I live secure in God’s love for me, I am able to put others before myself because of a faith that is grounded in the character of God, not circumstances. The more secure I am in God’s love the less I feel the urge to rely on myself for protection or justice.
At times in the past I have lived more out of my gratitude for God than his love for me. Gratitude resulted in obedience and right action, but didn’t necessarily get to the core of my character. I found myself still reacting instead of responding to people and situations when I live only out of gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, gratitude is incredibly important in a spiritual journey and it serves its purpose in many ways but love is the umbrella that covers it all.
1Cor 13:4 “Love is patient.”
The Greek root of patient in this verse means: long suffering, slow to anger, slow to punish, not to lose heart, suffering without complaining, enduring wrong, and tolerant. I use to think patience was all about waiting, yet I am learning that there is so much more to this loaded word. When I see how patient God is with me, it is this love that seeps deep into my soul and produces patience in me towards others.
2Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promises, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
1Tim 1:16 “But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”
When I am rooted in God’s love for me, it is that love that produces the fruit of the Spirit in me: patience. Patience allows for pause and space. It leaves space for others to make their own choices and mistakes. It helps me to recognize that their choices, feelings, responsibilities and past belong to them. Love is respecting them enough to believe that they have it in them to deal with these things. I can love them through it without reacting to it. When I give space I allow God’s Spirit to show me how to respond His way, if a response is called for at all.
God’s character is Love. The character of who I am as a follower of Christ is most important. As I focus on who I am in His love, patience and love for myself and others grows to mirror His love instead of my broken concept of it. This is the lesson that keeps on giving.
Col 3:12-13 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, cloth yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”