“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.” John 15:5
This verse revolutionized my walk with Christ many years ago as the Holy Spirit revealed to me that God would help me walk out my faith, would help me accomplish everything He asked me to accomplish, and would help me serve Him even when I thought I didn’t have what it took …all by the power that flowed in me through the filling of His Spirit as I remained in close fellowship with Him. Knowing this…believing this…was the beginning of me uncovering the meaning of “life more abundant” …that life that Jesus came and died to give to me, and to you; however, Jesus demands my all if I want to realize this abundant life. My portion in this equation is to remain in Him…to keep my will in sync with His will, to obey His Word, to worship Him with my life. For some reason, it took me much longer to come to understand that He also gives me power to take authority over my own emotions.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-8
Those verses were beautifully illustrated on a framed poster that hung in my bathroom for many years. It was the first thing I read every morning, but almost every morning, although my heart was moved by these wonderful verses, I would also think…but God…how can I do that? But God…what about what ______ is doing to me? But God…how can I trust someone that has proved to be untrustworthy?!?! But God, that person is so ______! BUT GOD! BUT GOD!! BUT GOD!!!
Anyone ever talk to God like that? Praise the Lord for His mercy!!
I had done and could do some pretty awesome things with God’s help…but I could not fathom how to love the way 1 Corinthians 13 defines love.
Of course, I remember that God even heard David, the very same man referred to as the man after God’s own heart, lament over what was being done to him by others. David asked God to even kill those that were trying to hurt him or destroy him…those that were trying to rob him of the future that God had told David he would have. Doesn’t sound very loving to me. But, often in the same Psalm, David’s laments are followed by prayers for mercy for the same enemies that he wanted killed only a few verses earlier. David almost always ended His laments with praise…but only after He refocused his eyes and his reliance back where they should stay…on his powerful and sovereign God!
It took God allowing me to come to the “end of myself” and to completely break me of all self-reliance until I realized it was disbelief that kept me from experiencing this God-sized love. What I mean by disbelief was that my belief was focused on the wrong object. I needed to base ALL of my belief completely on my infallible God and His abilities…not on my ability to “love”…but on His ability to fill me up with His love so that it could flow through me to others…especially the unlovable. What I needed to do was to get myself out of God’s way and to pray and ask Him to love others through me. When I did this, my prayers were answered almost instantly. The miracle of experiencing God’s love flow through me to someone who did not deserve it was very close to the experience of my own salvation…when I knew and felt God’s unconditional love fill my heart for the first time. If you have not known this type of love, I urge you to ask God for it. I must warn you; however, that it will become something your heart will “pant” after…more and more of Him and His love flowing through you to others…at the cost of constant death to self.
So I ask you…
Is there someone in your life that is draining your heart of love?
Are you conflicted on how you are supposed to love someone who is proving to be untrustworthy and unloving themselves?
Are you falling for the lie that I did…that you have to somehow muster up a love that you do not feel for someone…that you can somehow force yourself to love them?
Are you facing the loss of a relationship because you feel like your love for that person has died or is being killed by their behavior?
If you feel like I felt when I read 1 Corinthians 13, then it is time to stop trying to do the impossible. You cannot create a love that is not there…BUT GOD CAN GIVE YOU HIS LOVE. If you want to experience the healing miracle of God’s love flowing through you then you must give Him your heart first and put pleasing Him above your own desires. Then you can indeed love because He has loved you first!
Putting this truth into action daily can bring such victory and joy to one’s life. So please, join me and let Him help you Choose to Shine!
Keep your eyes on Christ and remember…
You are loved!