The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5: 19-23 – NIV)
I was offended. My friend had come to me for counsel, and I had given good advice which seemed to fall on deaf ears. A week later, she was telling me about the counsel she had received from a mutual friend. That counsel echoed mine precisely. It hurt that she would listen to the other friend and not to me.
When I asked her why it made a difference when our friend said the same things I did, she said “I don’t see the fruit in your life.”
I went home and pondered what my friend had said. Then I decided to cultivate anew the fruits of the spirit.
Love is hard. There are a number of people whom I don’t even like. How can I love them? Eventually it dawned on me that love is a decision, not a warm, fuzzy feeling. Love is a commitment to the well-being of another person. Love is a verb – an active word. It requires action.
I can act myself into a new way of feeling a long time before I can feel myself into a new way of behaving. Once I decided I didn’t need to feel love to behave in a loving way, it became easier, less complicated, to love others.
It helps to try to see others through God’s eyes. Each person I meet is His child – whether obedient or prodigal. God created each one of these people. And He loves them exactly as much as He loves me. I can quote John 3:16,17 and insert that person’s name in each of the places where there is a pronoun referring to people or the phrase “the world”.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
16 For God so loved Joe Blow, that he gave his only begotten Son, that if Joe Blow believeth in him (Joe Blow) should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn Joe Blow; but that Joe Blow through him might be saved.
Insert the name of the person you are facing at the moment and see if that doesn’t change the way you see him or her. Once you begin to see other people through God’s eyes via the lens of John 3:16,17, you will never look at people in quite the same way.
Grant me the heart and hands to love others as You love them. Help me to see how best to fulfill my commitment to their well-being. Thank you for loving us so much.
In Jesus’ most precious name.