Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Ready....Set....Love

God's goal for each of us is that our love would flourish – not just be evident, but be overwhelmingly, undeniably present in all our actions, speech, and emotions. We get the emotional part of love, but it is the words of love and actions of love that oftentimes don't quite measure up. Flourishing love is contagious love. Flourishing love is an active love – producing byproducts of its action in the lives of those it touches. This type of love is not in word only, but is a daily lived, sacrificial, unconditional reaching out of our lives for the benefit and well-being of others. We are encouraged to not only love, but to do it well - there is no 'half-way' when it comes to love. How many of us can truly say that we have learned to love well? We may be able to say that we have loved much, but loving well is a totally different story. 

So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.  
(Philippians 1:9-11)

We are to learn to love appropriately – using specific “tests” of our motives, actions, and thought-life to guard us against loving in any other manner - avoiding the missed steps and 'half-way' commitments we so often find ourselves replicating. Scripture does not describe the love of a believer coming from the realm of emotions – scripture directs us to use our “head” or minds to test this love. A person given to simple reliance on the feelings of the heart (emotions) is easily swayed, often discouraged, and frequently misdirected in motive. I've said it before, but it bears repeating - emotions can be quite fickle!

Scripture emphasizes the importance of running our emotions through a “filter” – the filter of our minds. As we grow in Christ, our minds become daily storehouses of new thought, changed attitudes, and exchanged values. It is that renewed mind that scripture recommends we use as a “filter” to guide our emotions. Scripture is not saying that we can understand all that love is, but that we can exercise maturity in the display of our love when we are conscious of our actions, sensitive to the instability of our emotions, and conscientious to guard both. It is this type of life that becomes an attractive “billboard” of God’s grace – standing as examples of the impact of God on a sensitive heart.

God's goal is to see us grow in Christ in such a way that there is no denying the work of grace in our lives. There is no better way to evidence God’s grace than to display it in unconditional, sacrificial love for others - and not the half-way type, either. This type of love is not sentimental dribble, nor is it calculated, manipulative action aimed at a certain effect. It is an outpouring of the Spirit in our daily choices, guiding our daily actions, and creating a welcoming and accepting place for hurting people to find help. This image is reproduced in our action – action that exemplifies the sacrificial love of our Savior.

Yes, love has an emotional aspect, but the impact of love is felt in its action, not just in its emotion. We are invited (maybe even commanded) to focus more on the actions of love and less on the sentiment of love so that we might be instruments of God’s grace reaching out to those he has placed in our paths. Let us love well – displaying the attractiveness of God to all. Just lovin!