Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Fruits of the spirit, part 2: Are we experiencing and sharing the love of God?

Galatians 5:22-25

King James Version (KJV)
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

John 13:35
By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Mark 12:29-31

King James Version (KJV)
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

The Greek word for love in all of these verses is the word "Agape." It means, "affection, good will, love, benevolence." 

So, one of the fruits of the spirit is for us to experience and show affection towards others. That means we genuinely care about others. When we see that they are struggling, we should be moved to prayer for them. And more than that, we should be moved to act. 

James 2:15-17

King James Version (KJV)
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

In this fast paced world, we spend most of our waking hours trying to "make a living." For many people, going to church has become a formality. It's another checked block on our list of things we have to get done. 

Yet, Jesus doesn't call us to GO to church. He calls us to BE the church. That means he requires us to DO what he would do. It is very instructive to us that the first squabble in the church was not over doctrine (Acts 6). It was over the distribution of resources in caring for the widows and orphans. 

Nowadays, the first thing we (the church) tend to do whenever someone comes to us in need, is to tell them "we will pray for you. Have you applied for Government help?" Here's a hint, church: It's NOT the Government's job to help the needy. According to God's word, it's OUR (the churches) job.

Part of the meaning of Agape is BENEVOLENCE. It means, "a disposition to DO good, an ACT of kindness, a generous GIFT." There's nothing in that definition about good intentions or warm thoughts. We are to ACT on and DO what needs to be done for the good of the needy and the glory of Jesus. 

How many times did Jesus either start or end a teaching by meeting the needs of his hearers? If we are his body, shouldn't we be about his business? Which is the more biblical act for us to perform: helping those in need (whether born again or not, and regardless of how they got into the situation in the first place), or building bigger and grander church buildings? Did Jesus die to build the church? Or the church building? 

It has become a source of pride for "God's people" to brag about going to the nicest church building, or the church with the biggest name pastor, or the largest congregation. What get's lost in the shuffle is how many people in need are turned away by that "church" because they choose to spend their money on the building, or the pastor's exorbitant salary, rather than on PEOPLE. 

If we are his body, it's high time we start acting like it. We should care for both where their souls are heading (heaven or hell) AND their physical and emotional needs. It's time we stop patting ourselves on the back for our own perceived righteousness and start BEING righteous by showing the love of God to each other and to the lost. Real Christianity is about relationships- both with God and with others. 

That requires more than a prayer. It requires more than giving a Bible study. It requires getting involved in their lives and helping them in their needs. It means we have to do more than say we are his church. We must BE his church. And men, it requires us to love our wives and families as Jesus loved us- and he DIED for us that we might be saved. (See my earlier post 

If we truly love God, then we will love others as he does. He saw our need and acted. The love that we felt when we were born again should transform us. We should become LESS self centered and more God and others centered. Miracles happen when we take the love of God outside the church walls and into a needy world. 

Lord, give us your mind and eyes. Help us to BE your church by helping others. We repent for our selfishness and false prosperity doctrines. We ask you to open up our bowels of compassion and help us to love others as you do- in helping them in their needs. In Jesus name!