by Barbara Latta @barbaralatta
We must first define love the way God does.
It is not the emotional, hugging, card-giving, “I want to be with you” feeling.
While we do show these actions and feelings to family members and friends, God’s kind of love goes deeper.
His kind of love is dying to self. Putting the needs of others before our own. Even people we don’t like. Or those who drive us crazy, cut in line, bless us with foul words, or just really don’t like us.
How do we die to self?
Put God first. Only then can we put others needs before our own. Dying to self cannot be attained by behavior modification. We can only love others when we have the knowledge of how much God loves us.
In Galatians 5:22-23 KJV, Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law
Notice the verse says fruit as singular and not fruits. While there are nine different qualities listed, they are all one gift given at the time the Spirit comes to live inside us. Because the Spirit of God doesn’t just have all these traits, He is all these traits. This is the personality of the Spirit who lives within us.
Daily life can challenge our relationships. Sometimes we fail. We call out to God to help us and give us more love or joy.
But if we realize all those traits are already given to us in our spirits, we can see more clearly how to draw upon them.
Emotions come and go, but the fruit remains inside us. We may pick and choose which attribute to use, but the same fruit is always there.
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV)
Our soulish realm is where we fail. Because our minds get in the way, we think we don’t have this fruit and we must keep asking for it.
Only when we realize how much God loves us will we be able to let the Spirit of God shine through to other people (1 John 4:19).
If we keep the fruit covered up by our own hurt emotions or rejection, love cannot come out.
Spiritual attributes flow through the soul to get into action. If our soul is contaminated with doubt and hurt, God’s spirit doesn’t shine. He is still there but His fruit is hidden.
When I was very young, my grandparents lived in a house out in the country that had a well for water.
A bucket was tied to a rope on a post at the top and if you wanted water, you had to lower the bucket and scoop it up and bring it back to the surface.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. (John 7:38)
The same is true with our inner being. We lower the bucket by digging into the Word and scooping that living water into our minds to drink so we can exhibit the gift that has already been given to us. The water in that well was always there, but if we wanted some, a person had to lower the bucket and get it.
There are many times I have let the flesh fly and the fruit remained in the bowl of my spirit (just ask my husband). But I am learning and as I study and pray, I am reminded more often of how the response that wants to come out is not one that would be godly actions.
Dying to self is not a one-time event. It is a daily fellowship with our Father. Abiding in the vine of Christ. This is where the strength comes from to control the emotional responses our flesh wants to give.
And of course, Jesus is the ultimate example. His entire ministry was focused on fulfilling God’s will and ministering to people at the expense of His own comfort and safety. When dying on the cross, He was still thinking of others.
He asked God to forgive those who stood at the foot of the cross mocking Him (Luke 23:34). He thought of His mother and gave her care over to John (Luke 19:26-27).
Our actions and words will be dominated by whatever we focus on. When we focus on God and not ourselves, the love will come out. It isn’t supposed to be something that takes effort. It flows when we open the gate.
How do we walk in love in a world so filled with hate? Die to self and let the Spirit shine through.
Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:5)
Join the conversation and share your thoughts. What are some ways a Titus 2 woman can be an example of godly love in action?