It has been said that as Christians, we live under Grace and not under the Law. This is true, and I rejoice in it.
Some gleefully proclaim that our only requirement of those “living under Grace” is the one commandment of Jesus, of which He said, “This is my commandment: that you love one another.” That sounds nifty. But it's not easy…
Try it sometime, and you'll see how He set us up.
For starters, what does it mean to “love one another”? What does that look like?
Well, according to the Apostle Paul, these are some of the qualities of the kind of love we are to exhibit:
“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.”
How many times YESTERDAY did I strut? How many times YESTERDAY did I make things about “me first”? How many times in the LAST WEEK did I fly off the handle, tally up the score of the sins of others, or secretly revel when others were humbled?
More times than it is comfortable to admit.
I find myself irritated by people who are gossipy, selfish, liars, cheaters, and hypocrites. In my moments of clarity, I realize I'm irritated by these things because I see them in myself.
Maybe I'm the only one who has these problems.
It's easy to talk about these principles of Scripture, and think of them as lofty ideals.
It's difficult to actually walk out the practice of Christian love when it begins to involve actual people.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realize it is not “difficult”: it is simply IMPOSSIBLE.
That's why I'm so grateful that God accomplished a way for me to experience this life of His, this life of love, that does not involve my own ability.
By standing under the never-ending flow of his grace, through Jesus Christ, and allowing His spirit to live within me, this life of love becomes possible.
Sometimes I wonder why, if I am truly His, as I claim I am, I still come up short so many times?
Then I read this, again from one of my best friends in heaven, apostle Paul:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.
Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.
Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
That's me. Fixing my attention on God, and so grateful that he is still changing me from the inside out.
Here I am, Lord. Taking my everyday, ordinary life—my sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and placing it before You as an offering.
Thank you for the Gift of righteousness and the abundance of Grace you have given us through your Son, Jesus Christ.