Philippians 2:1-2 (ESV) So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
In I Corinthians 13, or Love Chapter of the Bible, love is described in lengthy detail. Not the kind of love experienced in this world or through ordinary people but the love consistent with the character of Christ. How many weddings use this text going in yet shortly after embarking in life decide it is not all its cracked up to be? I have been married almost twenty years. While most days are unicorns and rainbows, there are some days when the trolls and storm clouds rule the day. Love is patient. Love is kind. Love doesn’t envy and is never boastful. It is not arrogant. It is not rude. I doesn’t insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. Love doesn’t rejoice when others fall on their face or glory in “I-told-you-so’s.” It rejoices in truth. (Let me just drop the definition of truth in there – it begins with God’s Word.) Love bears ALL things. Love believes ALL things. Love hopes ALL things. Love endures ALL things. Love NEVER ends. So why talk about love when I didn’t even reference it in today’s passage? Well, glad you asked…
Jesus Christ is the embodiment of the love described in I Corinthians 13. Love is not a characteristic but a character or real person. It is in His Demonstration of true love that our life is changed both inwardly and outwardly. The same chapter also concludes that if we do not have this kind of love then we have nothing at all. We must all have the same love to achieve Kingdom living. So if there is any encouragement in Christ…complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord or one mind.
Unity and harmony are the very channel that God’s Anointing and Blessing flow. Though the most basic Kingdom principle, probably the hardest to achieve. Hard hearts to not bear deep roots. In fact, the harder the heart the less likely that faith will be watered by His Love and emerge into the flourishing life that God has promised and Christ secured for us. In fact, just like the Word of God says, without love there is nothing. Without love, we hold doctrine rather than hope. Without love, it is a religion never a relationship. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is the source of love, joy and peace in our life meeting and exceeding every expectation. If this is true, unity and harmony will emerge.
Matthew 11:28-29 (ESV) Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
How many times is this promise longed for but never fully achieved? The promise of rest for the weary, labored and heavy laden. Is that you today? Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired? Is hope waning in your weary soul? Are you wondering where God is? The Lord is closer than you think. He lives on the inside of you. He invites us to “come to me” so rather than yoking to Him in the morning and partnering with Him through the day – it is human nature to come crawling when we need just a crumb of hope or spoonful of peace to get us through one more day. Where is the victory in surrendering to our feelings? Where is the triumph in doing the same thing every day? He invites us to yoke our life with Him and learn from Him. He is gentle and lowly of heart. A humble heart will receive rest for your soul. A hard heart that refuses to break will ultimately be shattered by life – devastation, disappointment, and the like will crush the one not fully yielded to God. Why would a loving God do such a thing?
My son is a police officer. He works the night shift. While the community is sleeping, my kid is patrolling the streets and keeping them safe. Many mornings I will wake up to text messages of injuries and reports of near misses just to tell me that he is safe nevertheless. Is protecting and serving my first choice for our kid’s career? Do you read the news? Even high profile figures have blatant disregard for law enforcement and incite hatefulness in others yet are celebrated even compensated for it – so the answer is not really. It is his occupational choice. When he was a little boy, he lived in my house. I was able to provide for him and protect him. When he needed assistance or guidance, I was with him. But now, how can I protect him from harm in another city? Or give him guidance in the middle of a pursuit or arrest? I can’t because I am not with him. It is in our proximity and position that God is able to work in us and through us. It is by invitation only that Christ will teach us a better way of life. He would never force it upon us. Love links us to Christ but it is only with a humble heart that the maximum effect of His Love will change our life.
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 (ESV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.
A humble and soft heart allows the Light of His Love to escape. It is in the cracks and crevices created by giving up those things contrary to His Love that allow His Love to truly penetrate our heart, fill our mind, and make us amenable to unity. The flexibility in our heart is not subject to abuse, offense, or harm from others because are full of Christ. The building of God’s Kingdom is a commitment to love Him first over ALL things. It is a call to step out of our former self and become a new creation in Jesus Christ by allowing Him to change our heart and mind bringing them into agreement and allegiance to His Word. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Everything needed, wanted and desired is fully satisfied in Him by humbling our heart and giving the Lord full jurisdiction. Suddenly the things that truly lead to contentment, fulfillment and a flourishing life are within reach or should I say within us making its way out of us. This is the first fruit of God’s Spirit – love. Unconditional and unfailing love found in us and distributing through us for the building of the Kingdom and life in the everlasting. Amen and Amen.
How’s your heart today? It is up to us to examine our heart. Like a loaf of bread in the local market, I am not going to purchase one that is stale and stiff. I want soft bread for my family that is delicious. Such is the task for us as believers, to give our heart and gentle squeeze for softness, the humble heart always remains soft. It is the only way it can be freely given to others like Jesus has asked us to do. Lord, created in us clean (and soft hearts) today. Holy Spirit, renew my spirit and refresh our souls in Jesus Name.
Psalm 51:10 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.