FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, No. 5 LOVE, PART TWO

Continuing our consideration of LOVE, we are thinking about love from the Holy Spirit, therefore it is love as God loves … Agape love.  So we need to see what this love looks like, and then see if we have those characteristics in our life.

 

In Dr. R. C. Sproul’s teaching series Keeping in Step with the Spirit, CD Teaching Series; and Developing Christian Character, CD Teaching Series he identifies several characteristics of Agape love, the love that should be evident in our lives because the Holy Spirit is resident within us as Christians.

 

What does Scripture say?

  1. Agape love gives us the desire in our hearts to worship God.

 

Without the Holy Spirit’s involvement in my life, worship would be far from what I would want to do on a Sunday morning.  But the Holy Spirit changes all that.  The Christian wants to honor and worship God – why? Because God is living within her, the Spirit urges her to honor and worship God and she responds by doing so.   Jesus said:

“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.  God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 

John 4:23-24.

 

  1. Agape love believes and trusts God’s Word.

 

Paul says:

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 

I  Thessalonians 2:13.

 

In Jesus’ prayer for His disciples, in John 17:17, he prays:

Sanctify them in the truth: your word is truth.”

 

Agape love reads God’s Word, loves God’s Word, believes God’s Word, and trusts God’s Word.  If God’s Word sets forth a standard that is difficult to follow, Agape love mandates that such standard should still be followed even if society cries out against it.  God’s Word is inviolate, and the Christian gives it full credit and trust.

 

  1. Agape love recognizes God’s absolute right to govern us.

 

Sovereignty – this is something we in the United States don’t really understand culturally, but it is grounded in our psyche – God put a desire for a sovereign in our very being – not for a physical king, but for HIM.

 

Indeed, in the Old Testament, God was the King of His people Israel, leading them through the wilderness and preserving them as they encountered enemies along the way.  But then we read in 1 Samuel 8:5-7 that the people came to the prophet Samuel and demanded a king  so they could “be like all the other nations around them.”  Samuel objected to this demand but he presented the request to God.

And the LORD said unto Samuel, “Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”  [KJV]

What a sad comment from our God — “they have rejected me”.

 

David says:

“Yet God my King is from of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth.”

Psalm 74:12

 

In 1 Timothy 1:17, Paul says:

“To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

 

Of course, we also have the promise of Romans 8:28-30 that God will work in all things to our ultimate good, specifically that we will be with Him for all eternity through Christ our Lord.

 

Agape love says that God is sovereign and that He has the absolute right to govern His creation in all things, and that, Beloved, includes even you and me.

 

How does this apply to my daily life?

 

  • With Agape love in our hearts, we recognize that we are the creation, not the Creator. The Holy Spirit is in our heart and He is enabling us to worship and honor God as God.   We desire to worship Him.  We want to come into His presence and sing His glories, hear His Word and learn from His Spirit as it is preached to us.

The emphasis on our worship is God, not us.  With Agape love, I will not be saying “I didn’t get anything out of the sermon today” because I am not the one that is to be the focus of worship.  Rather, my prayer is that my worship has given God the honor and glory that He deserves.

 

  • With Agape love, we will want to read and study His Word. You would never fold a letter from your boyfriend or girlfriend and put it in your pocket without taking it out of the envelope and reading it.  Rather, you would virtually memorize it, not out of an obligation to do so but because you want to have the words in your heart to cherish for all time.

The Bible is God’s Word to us, a love letter, if you will, given for us to read and learn of God, what His character is like, what He desires for His people, what He wants in worship.  The New Testament continues the theme that began in the Old Testament, detailing the life of Jesus Christ, the fullest revelation of God that we could possibly ask for, the One who was fully man and fully God.  The One who revealed God and His nature to the fullest extent possible.  Jesus even explicitly saying:

Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?

 

  • With Agape love, we will acknowledge that God is Sovereign. He has absolute authority over us, to send us wherever He wants us to go, to have us do that which He desires.  He is not a tyrant that He should gain glee in hurting His children.  Rather, His plan for us is far better than that which we could imagine, with benefits that are eternal, not just for the here and now.

Listen to Isaiah 43:11-13 as presented in the song entitled I Am The Lord, sung by Ed Kerr on Integrity Music’s Scripture Memory Song Album entitled Hope of Heaven.  Let the reality of these words sink into your mind and heart and think of them as you go about your daily activities.  Agape love – the first fruit of the Spirit.

 

 

We will look at additional characteristics of this fruit in the next post.

 

Blessings to you and I pray that you will continue to walk with me as we learn about the fruit of the Holy Spirit and as we mature in our transformation into Christian believers who speak and act as Jesus did and who share in the passions that Jesus had for the lost sheep and for the worship of His Father, the Almighty God.

 

 

WIND CHIMES – SOUND OR SILENCE?

Wind chimes — I love them.

Wind chimes playing music outside the porch
Wind chimes playing music outside the porch

I enjoy hearing them when the wind ripples through their parts and the chimes make melody along with the leaves and birds, all of nature combining to glorify God through their music.

Wind chimes outside porch window
Wind chimes outside porch window

But, not all the wind chimes are like the two above which are placed outside near the porch windows.  Certain wind chimes have been placed on hooks inside the porch.

Wind chimes with brass chimes on porch
Wind chimes with brass chimes on porch

We did have them outside for a time and their sound was just not … musical, shall we say.  The primary problem, though, is that they were not able to withstand the rigors of the breeze.  Seems rather weird that a wind chime could not hold it together in the wind, but that is the situation with those that are, now, inside.

Wind chimes on porch
Wind chimes on porch

Then there is the pottery wind chime from Hawaii that we had outside and it performed beautifully until one of the pieces broke after hitting the side of the house.  It is now in wind chime retirement, hanging on the wall inside the house.

Wind chimes from Hawaii
Wind chimes from Hawaii

A bamboo straw wind chime was a souvenir from an adventure in Jamaica.

Wind chimes made of wood in bedroom window
Wind chimes made of wood in bedroom window

The bamboo chimes have all the right pieces, but they just don’t make music – they rather thud!  A wind chime without the chime.  Just window dressing!

Wind chimes in kitchen window
Wind chimes in kitchen window

Some wind chimes have extra features, like balls that sparkle and, this one in the kitchen, even has a spring holding the chimes up.  Touch it and the whole thing bounces up and down with the chimes giving off a rather tinkling sound.  But I wouldn’t want to put it in the wind – the spring would have the chimes all twisted up in no time!

Wind chimes gracing the kitchen
Wind chimes gracing the kitchen

Some wind chimes, like this glass blown chime, are just too fragile to hang out in the wind.  It makes pretty music when the lower bob is touched, but it is simply not strong enough to endure the wind that would hit it outside. So it views life through the kitchen window.

Those chimes that are outside in the wind are doing what they were intended to do – make beautiful melody when touched by God through the breezes that He provides.  Those that are inside the house, for whatever reason, are still wind chimes, but they are not doing what they were intended to do.  They are pretty, they are providing ambiance, they are souvenir reminders of the trips that we have taken, but they are not fulfilling the purpose intended for them as wind chimes.

In Matthew 5:15-16, Jesus used a lamp as an illustration of something that can fulfill its purpose when being used properly.

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Of course, putting the light under a basket so that its light, although available, was not able to do its job is foolishness.  But Jesus then continues to say that the disciple of Christ should “let your light shine before others.”  Why?  For the purpose that others would see the works of the disciple and then give glory to God.

Notably, the very first question in the Westminster Confession of Faith, Shorter Catechism is “What is the chief end of man?”, and the answer is “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever.”  One of the proof text verses supporting this response is 1 Corinthians 10:31 where Paul directs:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

In short, as Christians, we are not called to live an inactive, inert, or passive life.  We are called to do God’s will for us.  God’s people have always been called to do His will.  In Leviticus 25:18, God tells Moses to tell the people:

Therefore you shall do my statutes and keep my rules and perform them, and then you will dwell in the land securely.

In the New Testament, Jesus says:

If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”

John 14:15.  And then he gives the counterpoint command in John 14:24 by saying:

Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.  John 14:24

In other words, if you do not keep Jesus’ words, you are showing by your very actions that you do not love Him. It matters not that you say you love Him.  The proof is in the pudding – do your actions show that you are keeping His commands?

So the next question is “What has Jesus commanded His disciples to do?”  That answer is found clearly in the Gospels.  Consider the Gospel of John where Jesus tells us what He wants … actually, He says it three times!

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

John 13:34

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”

John 15:12

“These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”

John 15:17

And then, while we are loving our Christian brother and sister, as we are commanded to do, we are also to:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

Matthew 28:19

Jesus knew that we would need power to do this, so in Acts 1:8 we read Jesus’ instructions to the disciples after his resurrection and just before He ascended into heaven.

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

Knowing that being His witnesses would be difficult, He prayed to the Father for them:

I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.

John 17:15

Thus, we have the commandments, instructions, power and protection, all provided by our Loving Lord.

So:

Wind chimes playing music outside the porch

  • Are we wind chime Christians whose grace-filled life makes everything around us more beautiful?
  • Are we behaving as Christians by loving each other as Christ loved us?
  • Are we loving those outside the Christian family so that they see Christ in us?
  • Are we strong enough to love people even when it is hard and windy?
  • Are we loving people even when they hurt us?
  • Are we wind chime Christians who are fulfilling the purpose God has for us?

Or:

Wind chimes on porch

  • Are we wind chime Christians who are too fragile in our faith to speak to others or to love those who are unlike ourselves?
  • Are we wind chime Christians who cannot withstand the torrents of difficulties attendant with Christian witness outside the confines of the church?
  • Are we wind chime Christians who have opted to stay inside the church, never getting out into the world so that we are not exposed to anything difficult or challenging?
  • Are we wind chime Christians who are so busy trying to look like Christians that we don’t have the time or inclination to follow Jesus’ command to love others?

 

Father, may I be a wind chime that sounds your love and mercy to others around me.  Forgive me when I have been content to sit on the sidelines of life and have refused to let my witness chime out for you.  Holy Spirit, embolden me so that I can do the work that you have arranged for me to accomplish and may my witness be love-filled even during those times when the winds of anger or contempt buffet the way. May I reflect Jesus in all that I do, to your honor and glory.