Thursday, May 21, 2009

Practical Love

A few Saturdays ago our Sunday School had a Yard Sale as a fundraiser for our church’s upcoming Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic. We were determined to minister in the midst of it and WOW did God do some awesome things! This led us to the next adventure with the Lord the following week. We were given the “homework assignment” to purposely show practical love and sacrifice in our life some way during the week and then report the following Sunday.

God did some amazing things in my life personally that week:

  • He reminded me how He wants me to obey the best things He has purposed me to do and not just random noble things I could do for Him.

  • He showed me that I don’t have to have it all figured out before I obey, I just have to take the step of obedience and He will provide the rest!

  • The Lord is prepared to multiply what I sacrifice until the need I am sacrificing toward is met! Fishes and loaves anybody?

So we came together Sunday and shared in groups the ways we had sacrificed to express the love of Jesus that past week. The sound of people moving in harmony with God’s love was music to my soul. People shared the joys, fears, expectations they had experienced as they sought to share the practical love of Jesus.
But as each person tried to recount Holy Spirit inspired actions through mere human words, the Lord reminded me that He had already written the words through which each sacrifice could be explained: The gifts of the Spirit.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22

I often think about these fruits as things I desire for the Holy Spirit to give and raise up in me. They are virtues that the Lord desires for me to allow the Holy Spirit to sculpt into my character as a Believer. But I have allowed my self-centeredness stop me right there, when there is so much more!
It is not a gift simply to be given to me so that I can proudly display it on the shelf of my pretty Christian life. I am the tree that God wants to cultivate to produce His fruit. He wants me to bear this fruit so that it can nourish the lives of others for the glory of His kingdom to be realized here on this earth!

Too many times, I am wrapped up in being a fruit eater and not a fruit producer.
Too many times I am wrapped up in what the Holy Spirit can give me, not what I can give through Him.

So when was the last time you nourished someone with the fruit of love that the Lord has produced in your life?

  • When was the last time someone tasted the sweetness of joy because of Christ in you?

  • Have you not just experienced peace but actually given it today?

  • Have you shown patience to one who needs it, deserved or not?

  • Have you offered the simplicity of kindness?

  • When did you last allow God’s goodness to be tangibly expressed through you?

  • Have you been the hands and feet of God’s faithfulness, rather than just the mouthpiece?

  • Have you embraced others with His gentleness?

  • Have you harnessed your energy for God and directed it toward doing His will?

“Against such things there is no law.”
That means there is FREEDOM in it.
The world will tell you that this type of giving is too high risk! But it is the selfishness and self-centered attitudes that will incarcerate you.
The walls of the prison are built with the blocks of apathy, piety, religious hypocrisy, complacency, comfort, and self preservation.
Drawing close to the Lord is the only way our lives can produce this life giving fruit. Remaining in that place of true intimacy is the only way we will ever have His heartbeat to give, to reach out, to love, to nourish with what He has so generously, so graciously given to us.

“Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop-on a light stand-shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

Practice. Love. Simple as that.

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