Today’s question was posed to me by a dear Facebook friend in response to a little message that I felt inspired to post. It was kind of a question of self-examination that asked, “if I’m not concerned for the eternal welfare of my neighbor, and concerned to the point of actually doing something regarding a spiritual need that they have, how could I possibly make a claim that I’m loving my neighbor as myself?”
Okay, so that’s a great question that we should all be asking ourselves because the Second Greatest Commandment is to love our neighbor as ourselves and when we’re surrounded by people who don’t know the Lord, if we’re not concerned about them, how could we ever be making any claim that we’re loving our neighbor as ourself, keeping the second greatest commandment.
And when I say concerned, I mean concerned to the point of not just, “Oh, I feel so bad for those people.” Concerned to the point of doing something. If I’m not praying for them, if I’m not looking for a way to try to wiggle the gospel into the conversation or if I’m not trying to build a relationship that will result in an opportunity to share the Good News with them, how could I possibly be fooling myself into thinking that I am obeying what God said is one of the most fundamental moral and ethical concept, loving my neighbor as myself. Well, I can’t.
So, one of my Facebook friends asked the question, how can I grow in love? Well, that’s a great question and here’s a stab at the answer. First of all, when you believe in Jesus, he comes to live inside of you by the Holy Spirit and the Bible says that it’s not longer I who lives, but it’s Christ who lives in my. We got the Lover, the great Lover, the one who hung on the cross for the sins of the world, he’s in us. And that’s the one, by his Holy Spirit, that’s the one that when we meet people who are unsaved, that’s the one who’s makes you feel the compassion, who makes you want to say something. In your mind you’re thinking, “How can I broach the subject? How can I turn this conversation into a spiritual conversation?”
All of that is motivated already by the love of God. Remember, Jesus in you died for that person who you’re talking to, who doesn’t know him. So he’s supremely interested in that person. He loves that person and so he’s just trying to get out and express himself through you.
Can you see that it’s not so much us mustering up more love for people, it’s a matter of letting the love that’s in us out. The love of God has been shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Spirit, I think that’s Romans 5:5. And the very first fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22, is love. The fruit of the Spirit is love and then it goes on joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithful, gentleness, and self-control. But the very first one is love. So that’s already in us.
And then of course there’s just the ongoing work of God. I mean, Paul prayed in one of his epistles that God would cause you to increase and abound in love one for another. So there’s that avenue once again that it’s God who is at work within us, both to will and do his good pleasure. He is wanting to love other people through us and we’re the ones putting the lid on it. Or the flesh is putting the lid on it.
I would suggest then just endeavoring to be more conscious of the Lover on the inside of you, if you want to grow in love. And when we’re conflicted with should I or shouldn’t I let Jesus out, you’ve got to let him and let him be himself. And that is a freeing, liberating thought, isn’t it? It’s not by my strength, who am I to think that I could ever win someone to the Lord or influence somebody to come to Christ or make a disciple. Who am I?
But, who am I? Well, who do I have? I’ve got Jesus on the inside of me and he is well able to be bold. He’s not afraid. He knows what to say. Remember, Jesus told his disciples when they bring you up before the courts and so forth, don’t even prepare what you’re going to say. My Spirit will give you utterance that your opponents cannot refute. So you’ll find that as you step out by faith and begin to talk to people.
And this is true on other levels too, in closing here I’ll talk about the secondary level. But talking to those who are not believers, you’ll find, and many people have experienced this, as you step out by faith and start letting Jesus talk through you, you’ll find yourself saying things that make you go, “Oh, my goodness! That’s great! That’s profound!” Or you’ll quote a scripture and you’ll say, “I didn’t memorize that scripture, I don’t know how I got that.” Well, the Holy Spirit in you brought that to your remembrance as Jesus promised. He’s just keeping his word, we just have to step out.
It’s kind of like walking on the water, you know, Peter, he had to take a step. He couldn’t support himself, he couldn’t make the water solid under his feet, so he had to do the walking but Jesus had to do the miracle part of it. As we just endeavor to step out by faith in love, well then the Lord helps us. Because that’s his thing.
And that’s not only true in regard to loving our neighbors when our neighbors are unsaved, it’s also true in loving our neighbors when our neighbors are saved. Just because they are saved doesn’t mean that they’ve reached the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, right? So if we’re going to love our neighbor as ourself in that case, we need to be concerned about that and to the point of doing something. At least praying for them.
But encouraging them, admonishing them, of course, making first of all sure that we’ve got the log out of our eye before we ever point a speck in anybody else’s eye, right? But that’s also true that when we step out to serve or admonish or teach a fellow brother or sister in Christ, the Holy Spirit can kick in and use us in a way that we didn’t expect him.
And you might think, “Whoa, no, no, I just thought my job was to invite people to church.” Oh, no, no, no. Throw that out. That’s a dark ages idea there. No, no, no. You are to be a disciple who makes disciples. And Jesus said that if you want to be great in the kingdom of heaven, keep my commandments and teach others also. So it’s imperative upon all of us, we’re not all called to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, but we’re all called to teach.
Paul wrote to the Christians in Colossi, “Let the word of Christ dwell within you richly, teaching and admonishing one another.” So this is the responsibility of all of the disciples, to be teaching and admonishing one another because we care. Because we love our neighbor as ourselves. Okay.
Faith is an aspect of love, stepping out by faith to let the Lover work through us.
Thanks so much for joining me on today’s Little Lesson. God bless you.