Along with the New Covenant found in Jesus Christ came new ways of understanding God. Describing the infinite God already proves impossible. So why shouldn’t Him becoming man cause us to have to repurpose or create whole new words to describe a reality unique to Him? Two words I’d like to focus on form the basis of God and our relationship with Him through Jesus.
The words are agápe (love) and charis (grace). The word agape which means love in Greek is unique to Christianity. It refers to God’s quality of love. This kind of love is not known to man outside the presence of God. Agápe love is different because it is unconditional and not based on merit. You cannot earn or deserve a Godly love. Loving like God is a choice and not based on emotions which drive man. The writers of the New Testament had to create this word to describe a concept foreign to man before Christ came to be an example of such an amazing thing. There are many words for love in the Greek language including éros(sexual), philía(friendship), storgē(parental),and ludus(playful). None of them had the power to describe a love that cannot fade or change.
Charis (grace) is a word that had to be reconditioned. When the writers of the New Testament began to use it to describe the gift of God to His adopted children it gained a power it never had before. The word originally described kindness or favor (Hebrew ‘hen’) in the Old Testament (as in God’s favor toward Noah or Moses), but took on a meaning much larger and powerful with the coming of the prophesied Messiah. Where the law of the Old Testament fell short and drove man away from God, the grace found through faith in Jesus brings glory to God and a new meaning to a word that also fell short of the undeserved gift of our Lord.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep
When we are invited into someone’s life we must understand what that means. We are trusted to receive their inner most feelings. We are also chosen by God to be there for the opportunity to share His word to someone as their emotion blocks out logic and truth. We need to be in that moment with them in sympathetic submission to their struggle or praise. Sympathy creates patience, closeness, and connection. Allow the spirit to overflow from you. Reflect God’s light into a dark moment or allow your light to combine with their praise and focus them toward the only One worthy of their delight. The Lord puts people in our lives to mold us and for us to mold them as well. Don’t walk past the opportunities God as groomed you for, through your personal struggles. Let the testimony God has blessed you with fill the heart of those you have the amazing opportunity to walk with. Focus on the love of God and your ability to show it regardless of circumstance. The love in the rejoicings of life and we love harder when the darkness begins to creep in. Let God’s strength support you and His word guide you. The God’s light on the roller coaster of life as He stabilizes His chosen for His purpose.
Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality
We are called to rely on God as our provider. He is the source of everything we need. Living a life as an image bearer of Christ leads us down a path that may differ from the one we think is best. We are to have faith that God’s plans are better and His provision more abundant than we could provide for ourselves. Relying on God assures that His provision is appropriate for the journey He made us to travel. God blesses His faithful to overflowing so that we might show the same blessings to the people around us. We are to contribute to the needs of fellow believers as we work together to glorify God and His kingdom. We are also called to show hospitality to all people and love them as we love ourselves. I believe that God’s blessing used in accordance to His will results in joy and peace which is provision only God can give.
2) Abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good (Romans 12:9)
Abhor (regard with disgust and hatred) all evil, sin, darkness (anything not glorifying to God). Hold fast to God, the source of all good. True Christians are not perfect. The goal is not instant perfection at salvation, it’s sanctification (growing toward Holiness) as the Holy Spirit matures in our hearts. The goal is not to be without blemish, it’s to trust The Lamb of God who is without blemish. It is impossible to live a perfect life for even a day. We should seek to grow in God’s mercy which is renewed daily. We will fall short of the Holiness of God. We know we are growing when we are able to recognize our moments of failure, take that moment captive in Jesus, and grow from that lesson. Repeated recognition of our sin puts light into that darkness and matures our spirit. Only with the power of God through His spirit can we grow and reflect His light.
We often find ourselves trying to explain the message of God to people who are too consumed with the things of this world, like sin and emotion. Not to say that we don’t all fall prey to such times but our focus is meant to be on God. Living a life in the truth of God makes us feel compelled to pour out the word of God to those who are lost. We must seek to not only speak of God but to show Him in our actions and words. We must lose the expectation of seeing a heart change and a person find understanding. The only expectation we are meant to seek is that God is glorified through us. The understanding of the ways of God is only possible in the Holy Spirit. A changed heart allows the Spirit to dwell and grow fruit so that understanding and maturing can take place.
We should take heart that not even Jesus Himself could truly create understanding. His disciples didn’t have understanding of the power they possessed until Pentecost (indwelling of the Spirit). Even Jesus knew that He had to go so that the Spirit could instill truth into the hearts of believer where even the wisest of words fall short. (John 16:12-13a) I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth,…
Our love drives us to profess our God and His love. Our emotion and expectation cloud our purpose which isn’t conversion but glorification. Let the power of God in His Spirit grow fruit. Let God glorify Himself in the seeds we are called to plant. Be a reflection of God’s light and the work His Spirit has done in you. Let God be God and call to repentance those He chooses in the way He receives the greatest glory.
(Titus 3:3-5) For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit
We struggle with wondering if we are walking the path God has for us. We believe we are, but then an obstacle comes up and we wonder if this is a test of faith or a warning to change direction. Although I am sure God is leading me, I am constantly evaluating my environment and looking for ‘markers’ that indicate God desires me to make a change. The Holy Spirit guides us as God reveals His will to us in: prayer and through believers in our life. If we seek the Lord He will be found. God will lead us in His light for His glory.
There are many times we seek His face and His answers are withheld to keep us waiting for His timing. Or, our minds are so filled with our own desire we can’t hear His whisper. We stand on our path wondering if we are astray or just meant to pause. I had a thought that comforted me and I wanted to share.
God calls us to lead a life of righteousness. I feel that a life of righteousness, focused on Him, is the path He has for us. All of the earthly additions are not markers for us. Paying too much attention to the world will cause us to react in ways where God isn’t our focus. I believe that righteousness acts as a compass to God’s will for us. When the world creates obstacles, we are called to deal with them in righteousness and integrity befitting a child of God. He calls us to be the light and salt of the earth, even when things aren’t favorable. The way we react when things are difficult is more important than how we react to God’s blessings. Our difficult times act to draw people to our faith and hope in Him. If we continue to pursue righteous behavior in the midst of all of life’s circumstances we walk with Him.
I believe that sin is the marker that indicates we are leaving the light of His path. When we encounter sin or have to participate in sin to continue forward, that is when we have to stop and turn back. We know that God will not involve Himself in sinful behavior. He waits for sin to bury us and for us to seek Him and return to His light. That is where His grace and mercy make His light shine brighter.
We should not treat our walk with the Lord as an anxiety filled step-by-step analysis of His will or His favor. We seek to show God to others and glorify Him with a life of righteousness. This is the life He desires for us. He will give us the things He desires, it’s not for us to seek His every blessing. We are to live as a representation of a spirit filled with Him and a faith that His blessings will come in His time to glorify Him. When in doubt, glorify the Father!
Why do we feel the need to hide who God made us to be? Each one of us adds so much value in our unique ways. If you think about it, even evil people come into our lives and leave us with valuable lessons. Those lessons may be personal, or ours to share when others struggle. The value of each person is found in your ability to see their beautiful gifts. You might see a gift that they aren’t even aware of, or a gift they are trying to hide but it fights its way out in their weakness. God brings all kinds of people into our lives. Some people are there to guide us toward a path, some to push us away from the wrong path. Some people are there to influence us positively so that we can grow, some to show us qualities we are meant to avoid. Some people will love us, some will pretend to love us, some will reject us, and some will try to cause us harm. The beauty is that they are all part of a plan much bigger than the small moments that we have to interact with them. Even years of love or pain are a blink in the eye of eternity. Let all people be a source of sanctification. Let all people draw you toward your Godly purpose. Let all people give you the chance to show love and to be God’s light. Be an example as you rise above the world that reacts in selfish haste. Be the reaction that God put in you to be. Brighten the world around you. Let God set your coarse and don’t allow the people of the world to draw you away. Let the hard times mold you to be stronger and the beautiful times fuel your spirit.
How many times do you find yourself caught in a struggle where you can’t seem to find resolution that lasts? Maybe it’s an addiction or a relationship with a loved one. You try everything you can think of and never get the satisfaction that your heart is looking for. That’s because your desires come with emotions that cloud your ability to hand that struggle to God. He is the only one that knows how to truly fill the void in your heart designed to fit Him perfectly. If you let God fight your battle, you won’t have to fight that battle again. Our God is a God of completeness. Along with His resolution He will impart the wisdom to see other struggles from a better vantage point, closer to His. It’s when you fight under your own power that you find yourself hopeless and exhausted. Hand the struggle and pain to God and take up His yoke. Let Him walk you through your battles to the resolution He has waiting for you. (Matthew 11:30) “ For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
God equips each of us in a unique way to serve Him and to glorify Him. In His infinite wisdom He molds us through our troubles in order to strengthen us for our journey. When troubles come into our lives, our first instinct is to run to our friends and family for counsel or consoling. That can be useful some of the time but we must use discernment with their advice. The important thing is that we give God’s word precedence over all other counsel. This all became clear when I was reminded of the story of David fighting Goliath.
David came to the army camp to bring lunch to his brothers. They were not accommodating to him coming to them. He then hears the army’s trouble with a giant Philistine named Goliath. David approaches King Saul while all of the other soldiers are afraid to fight. The king reluctantly says ok to this undersized minor fighting the giant. Saul then proceeds to give David his armor and weapon to fight. The problem was David could not use Saul’s weapon or armor (advice) to approach the battle God had for him. He had to use the skills of a shepherd to fight the way God had equipped him. He approached the Philistine with the power of the God of Israel made whole in David’s faith and weakness. David trusted God and ignored the advice of his brothers to return home and his king to use a sword. In his obedience to God he glorified the Lord and solidified his own place as the future king.
Listen to the wisdom of those around you and accept their love. But in those moments of weakness give the highest position to God and let His power be made complete in your weakness. Discern the counsel of the people around you and lean always on God’s word always faithful to His word made flesh in Christ.