Today I had the opportunity to speak at a function with local businessmen and women who are dedicated to serving our community. I got to share my heart for Jesus, Rural-Awakening, and what I want to see God do in our community. As I was sharing, the theme morphed quickly into a very common topic for me, "Love". I shared about loving our spouses, families, friends, neighbors, community members, co-workers, and all that we come in contact with. I talked about loving others when it's not easy and how love always looks like something. It's not always easy to display love when it costs you something. It's not always easy to display love when that person persecutes you. It's not always easy to display love when it feels as though love is rejected or trampled on. It's not always easy to display love... because we're loving imperfect people.
As Jesus loves to do, later on this afternoon He began to teach me about the very thing I was teaching on. He said, "Love must be done in faith"
Well that seems simple for my mind to grasp. I know that Romans says whatever is not done in faith is sin, I know that Hebrews says without faith it is impossible to please Him, I know from James that we need works and FAITH, I know that 1 Corinthians says without love I'm a clanging symbol. I'm at pro at hearing correction and thinking, "I know, and here's 35 scriptures to prove to you that, I know" ... however I've learned, if a mentor/elder/friend and ESPECIALLY Jesus feels the need to say something like that to me, I very well might "know", but I obviously don't "do". LOL.
So I asked Him. What does that mean? "Love must be done in faith". "It takes faith to love as deeply as I love"
Have you read 1 Cor. 13 lately? It's got a few things it says about love that aren't so easy. I immediately thought of several situations where I've honestly had a hard time as of late trying to display 1 Cor. 13 love. Love that is patient, love that is kind, love that isn't self seeking, love that takes no account of suffered wrong, love that believes the best, love that ENDURES ALL THINGS. As the voice translation says in verse 7 "Love puts up with anything and everything that comes along; it trusts, hopes, and endures no matter what" No matter what??? That's what scripture says about love.
Love when you're disappointed, love when you're hurt, love when you want to be angry, love when your flesh wants to slap sense into that teenager. Love when your heart doesn't matter to them at all. Love no matter what their actions say to you. Love when you're unsure and confused. Always, always, always love. In just the last 24 hours I've had three meetings with students that I walked away from having to ask God for grace to help me be patient, kind, take no account of suffered wrong... etc. It's no surprise with various circumstances that He's telling me that I must have FAITH to love.
Everyday we each encounter opportunities to not walk in love with those around us. Every. Single. Day. It takes faith to love like Jesus loves.
I've realized over the years that the more my faith increases so does my love and vice versa, the more my love increases the more my faith increases. As I truly allow faith and trust to grow, the more that I love Him and the more I love Him the more I'm empowered to love others.
If I trust Jesus to take care of me then I am able to humbly lay my life down at the alter to love others. If I have faith enough to believe that Jesus will protect me, lead me, guide me, defend me, heal me, then I can love without hesitation. Often we struggle to love as deep as He loves because it puts your heart in what feels like a vulnerable position, but in reality if our faith is in Him, it's not so vulnerable after all.
In Congo just shy of two months ago I needed faith to believe that my Jesus would protect me from death. I needed my faith to grow to a point that when men were outside of our house shooting that He would be faithful to His Word to protect me. To many this sounds like a dangerous situation, but because I had faith in Him it really wasn't that dangerous after all. Because I trusted Him with my life there was nothing to fear. As I come back to America I realize I need just as much, if not more, faith. Faith to love as deeply as He loves. It's not faith to believe that He will protect me from dying, it's faith to believe that He will take care of my heart. I can love, and love, and love, and love some more knowing that He has me. He is near and He is good.
Love that student who has disappointed you. Love the one who has rejected your attempts to care for them. Love the one who is still running away. Love the one who is an addict. Love the one who doesn't know how to love in return. Love the one who has made mistakes. Love the one who will never have anything to offer back to you. Love the one who lashed out on you. Love the one who is difficult. Love the one who persecutes you. Love the one who is hard and calloused. Love well the one who is awesome and great. Love well the ones who are willing to live life along side you. Love well family and friends.
As I extend His love to others, it may not always be received with open arms. It may not be appreciated. It may not be wanted. My heart may get stomped on. I may get disappointed. I might get rejected. And for each of those moments there are hundreds more where it is openly and lovingly received, but no matter what I must LOVE BY FAITH.
Loving by faith in Him. The One who sheds the love of God abroad in my heart in the first place. Loving by faith in the One who is Love. Loving by faith in the One who watches over me, heals me, and loves me unconditionally. Loving by faith in the One who did the greatest act of love ever, an act of love for many who would never love Him in return.
When Christ sacrificed Himself on that cross He was loving the world. The world where many had rejected Him, despised Him, spit on Him, and mocked Him. The world where He knew that many would slander Him, abuse Him, refuse Him, and never accept His love offering. And yet, He still loved. And He still loves. And He still asks us to LOVE.
Loving others isn't always "easy", but we must learn to LOVE BY FAITH in the One who loved us and gave Himself for us. He will be your guard, He will love you unconditionally, He will affirm you, He will call you child, He will give grace to you for your humility.
He is so good.
Love deep friends. Be Blessed, J. Tate