Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Out Of Love

I had the blessing of spending the weekend in Colorado. I was working out there on Monday and so my boss agreed to fly me out on Friday afternoon so that I could spend the weekend with a friend before work on Monday. It was such a refreshment and encouragement to me. We stayed up until like 3:45 am one night talking and I was using the words, "my responsibility before the Lord", quite often. I know that as a man, I have responsibilities in different facets of life... responsibilities toward God, to my family, to those in my church, to my boss and coworkers, to my friends, etc. I believe I am to be a man that takes responsibility. However, as we were talking, my friend mentioned that I was focusing too much on "responsibility" and not enough on "relationship". We can easily become people that have "to do lists" in all of our "responsibilities" toward those around us that we lose sight of the core of God's heart toward people--to love them as we love ourselves.

Fulfilling our "duties" toward one another must flow from love. The love of Christ must be what controls us. I fear that over the years, I have focused too much on the "responsibility" aspect of our obedience to the Lord and not enough on our obedience flowing out of our love for Him. Part of this is because I want to get away from the concept of love being simply a "feeling". Feelings come and go. In fact, this evening I had very little desire for the Word. I could attempt to justify it by coming up with some lame reasons for why I may not desire it as much as I should, but lets face it, we can always come up with a "reason" not to love. Yes, I want my desire for the Word to come out of love for the Lord, but sometimes I just need to "do it" even though I don't feel like I love Him as I ought to. Actually, I should always feel that I don't love Him like I ought to, but in my sinfulness, I often think far too highly of my love for Him. I am thankful for grace.

I find that when I do the "loving thing" regardless of how I feel and ask the Lord for help, God grants grace to love more (and feel more loving). It doesn't always start with the feeling, but God often grants the feeling as a result of true Christ-centered love. I spent time in Romans 5 this evening... didn't feel like it at all... but knowing that loving Him is often directly related to my knowledge of Him, I knew time with Him was the loving thing for me to do regardless of my feelings. As I read, I was reminded of the incredible grace of God.

Take a look at verses 1-11...
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
How can I read this and not be filled up with joy in the amazing grace of God through Christ? I was a helpless sinner. Now, I am justified in His sight. He died for my sin. How can my heart not be filled with the joy of my salvation? This isn't like winning a game or something... this is the eternal state of my soul being transferred from eternal separation from God to eternal full joy in His presence!

God, thank You for Your grace and help in changing my heart from a heart that is cold and unloving to a heart that loves You. Thank You for grace to love others when I don't "feel like it" and for granted grace even to "feel like it", though I don't need to "feel it" in order to obey You. You are so good. Your Word truly is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. It is food for the soul that doesn't even realize its hunger. Continue to grant me more desire for Your Word and for obedience to it out of love for You. Fill my heart with the joy of Christ as I sleep, for I know that You give to Your beloved even in their sleep. Thank You for grace. Thank You for Christ.

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