Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. – 1 John 4:7-12 (ESV)
For a long time I really did not know what to do with the above passage. While I understood the command and the concept, I failed miserably at its application. I felt destined to always stumble and trip through my life of wanting to love others but knowing at my core I had a strong disdain for people. It is hard for me to admit as people who know me, know that I am pretty happy and always willing to help others. One of my students summed it up one night after class when she said, “You are very patient with your students, always eager to explain and re-explain a concept until we get it. But one thing I also know is that you do not suffer fools.” That one comment stumped me. As I drove home I thought long and hard about her comment. She nailed it. I love teaching and really have no problem talking through something several times with patience. However, and it is a big HOWEVER, whenever I get a student in class that is foolish, meaning they really don’t care to understand, well, then I have absolutely zero patience for them. I loath people like that. Or at least I did. The word “idiot” often entered my train of thought.
I often found myself in the exact same position as the Pharisee in Jesus’ day. “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.’” – Luke 18:11 I would just change out the words a bit, such as “Thank you God that I am not like these idiots, or that moron over there who can’t seem to get my order right, or that parent that yells at her kids incessantly, or that photographer who has no idea what they are doing.” The list goes on and I bet it does for you too.
All we know is all we know and usually our way is the best way. It is how we were raised and what is ingrained so deeply within us. But God commands us to live a different way. I knew that with my head, but for some reason could not get my heart to line up. When I was honest, I really did feel like a better person than everyone else. But looking back, I was in the darkness.
Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. – 1 John 2:10-11 (ESV)
I was blinded and had no idea why. I was a good Christian who prayed, read her Bible, and went to Church. Then I realized, I was trying to do it on my own and not through Christ. Did you know it is almost impossible to love others more than yourself? Even though it is a command, it is something that without the Holy Spirit in our life we cannot do on our own. It is not in our make up.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us. My son’s memory verse the very first week of school his Kindergarten year was “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13. I was brought up to believe I can do all things if I put my mind to it. How incredibly wrong and misguided I was. It is only through Christ who gives me strength that I am able to do all things. Think that one through.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
The above verse in John sums it up. People will know you are a Christian if you have love for one another. Sadly I cannot tell who the Christians are of this day and age, can you? When I thought I was a Christian, I professed to be one and did all the things Christians did, but Christ was not in me. Looking back it is all crystal clear. I did things on my own strength. The only way to truly get right with God and know you are a Christian is to audit your fruits. Do it often. If you are unclear still, ask God daily to reveal himself to you. Get on your knees and surrender completely your life to him. Don’t wait. Don’t let your pride get in the way. This is too important. How sad for you to live your whole life thinking you are a Christian only to get to Jesus when you die and to hear him say, “Depart from me you worker of lawlessness!” The horror at that very moment would be unbearable. My heart is overwhelmed by compassion for those of you who are adamant that you are saved but live like everyone else. Read the other fruit audits, read my testimony, and read what the Gospel really is.