So today was the first day of my challenge, and I started with the first characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit- love. I find it somewhat ironic that we are talking about love all this month in children's church, and this also happens to be the week of Valentine's day. So love is a central theme not only in my life this week, but everywhere!
As I prayed about how the Spirit would lead me to love today, I was reminded of the description of love given in 1 Corinthians 13. I memorized the majority of this chapter as a teen, and it has stuck with me to this day. But I don't often sit down and really meditate on what it says. As I began the chapter, I was immediately convicted.
See, lately, God has been dealing with me about doing more for Him. He has opened my eyes to see that as a Christian, I have a responsibility to be Jesus to the broken, hopeless, hurting, hungry, naked and lost. I have been compelled to give more. More money, time, effort, prayer...more of myself. How can I say I am a follower of Christ and neglect the very people He came to save? My heart has been burdened for those who are needy and helpless more than ever before.
But as I read the first few verses of 1 Cor. 13, I realized something.
"If I speak in tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all the mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."
Yes, I am called to give to the poor. But my motive should be love, not guilt. Yes, I am called to clothe the naked. But my motive should be love, not a sense of responsibility. Yes, I am called to use the gifts God has given me. But my motive should be love, not obligation.
So today, my prayer has been that love would become the motive behind all I do, and how I do it. That is not an easy task, especially when you encounter opposition. It is easy to love when people love you back and when things go your way. But when opposition arises, it is easy to slip from being motivated by love to being motivated by hurt, bitterness, revenge or anger. Love is a choice that has to be made over and over and over again.
"And he has given us this command: whoever loves God must also love his brother." 1 John 4:21
I am realizing that what the world needs is not just another philanthropist or do-gooder. The world needs love. God's love. Love that comes as a result of the Holy Spirit working in me. I can give, do, help and provide, but if it is not motivated by love, how is it any different from what the world offers? Celebrities and billionaires will be able to provide more food, clothing and shelter than what I could ever dream of. But I believe that the love of the Spirit through me can make a greater difference in the world than those material things. Yes, I want to provide for people's physical needs. But ultimately, I want them to experience the love of Christ that can transform their lives.
Today the Holy Spirit has led me to make love my motive. Love should be, and will become the reason I do what I do. How about you? What is motivating you? What drives your relationships with others? What powers your actions and words? Is it love? Or is it anger, fear, jealousy, bitterness, pride or revenge? Choose love. Why?
"Love never fails." 1 Cor. 13: 8