Love is Kind- Abide in My Love Series

kind

This summer I visited a theme park with my family.  The day before I had hurt my back stepping into a pool.  It hurt to walk, sit, turn or even lay down.  The pain was constantly on my mind, but I trudged on through the park that day.  Close to the end, as we were on our way out of the park we came upon one of the old wooden roller coasters and my husband convinced me to go on “the big kid ride” since we had been doing kiddie rides all day. It was fast and furious.  My husband put it best when he said, “I feel like I was just in a car accident”.  Somehow during the ride though, I was shaken and thrown around enough that when I was done, my back felt better.  Whatever was out of place got shaken back into its proper alignment and I was pain free.

My internal dialogue with God when I am in the eye of a stormy trial resembles a roller coaster ride. I move speedily from peaks of understanding and grace to deep stomach churning valleys of self-indulgence and self-pity. All the while being flipped and turned and shaken by the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s word.  But by the end of the prayer, the pain is gone.  And I am free to go forth in love with a pure heart.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I have learned over time to stop myself in moments of frustration or affliction and say a silent prayer over 1 Corinthians 13:4.  I tell you, it is very rare, that I ever make it past the first half of verse 4. “Love is patient and kind.”

For two reasons:

1. Patience and Kindness are the first things to go when we are not loving others as we are called to.

2. Patience and Kindness are the first fruits we see when we chose to love others as we are called to.

If patience is love doing nothing, then kindness is doing something intentionally with love. First we have to have no reaction, so as to pray and consider the correct, loving reaction we should have. If we are being patient we will not withhold love out of bitterness or resentment, but give kindness freely out of love. For, “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14) and “By this all people will know that [we] are [Jesus’] disciples, if [we] have love for one another” (John 13:35).

My prayer usually resembles something like this; “Lord, give me YOUR LOVE to be patient right now. I do not feel like being kind to this person who is hurting me.  Give me the endurance to suffer and the wisdom to keep my mouth shut. Change my heart to view them through Your eyes and in light of your grace towards me.  Lord, show me how I can show kindness in this situation and let me do it from a pure heart expecting nothing in return.”

Now, as beautiful as it may appear typed up like this, don’t get me wrong. It hurts to pray it and it can be ugly.  This is a prayer you pray when you are bearing your cross and following your Savior. Most times it is poured out through tears on my knees on the floor of my laundry room, or as I am balling in my car driving down the road. I will tell you this though, when I pray this prayer, His love and peace and joy beyond all circumstances are magnified in my heart and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me( Philippians 4:13).

Now, you may have noticed, above in my prayer, the bold letters “YOUR LOVE“.   When I am praying to love someone who is just downright unloveable, I can only do so with the love of God and by default, with his patience and kindness.  So let’s take a look at some scriptures that show us the kindness of God.

Psalm 145:13,17 tells us that “The Lord is faithful in all his words, righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.”  In Luke 6:35, as Jesus is commanding his disciples to “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” he states that “the Father is merciful” (v.36) and “he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil”.  We are called to love as God loves, he gives us the example of mercy and loving kindness even to the ungrateful and evil.  If we are faithful to obey, “our reward will be great and we will be Sons of the Most High”. (v.35)

As hard as it is to love those who are ungrateful, we must remember that that is how God shows his love to us.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

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, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:3-6)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

We cannot wait around for others to act in a way we deem to be deserving of our love and kindness.  We are called to be merciful as our Father is merciful.  In doing so, we are showing others the love and grace of God and the gospel.

Now, sometimes it is not only enemies, but those who are closest to us that we are struggling to be patient with and kind to.  In marriage and parenting we get many opportunities to bear this fruit and many times we fall short.  Our sin nature rears its ugly head.  I have compared myself way too much with the Proverbs 31 wife and seen my own shortcomings, but still I look to this scripture as a goal to attain.  I want to be the wife who “opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (v. 26)  In Titus 2:3-5, Older women are called to “teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled”. (Titus 2:3-5).  As we grow as Christians and disciples of the Lord, we bear much fruit.   Lord, please make my heart so familiar with your mercy and kindness that I am teaching it to my spouse, children, friends, and even strangers by example.

My prayer is that we will “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  1. Is there someone specific in your life that you struggle to be kind to?
  2. When you consider the kindness God has shown you, how can you look past your reasons and show them kindness even when they are ungrateful?
  3. Is there someone in your life that you can encourage in their struggles to love someone with patience and kindness?
  4. Are you finding ways in your day to show kindness to your family and strangers, expecting nothing in return?

 

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Abide in My Love- Series Introduction

abide

Welcome to Abiding Hearts at Home’s first series, Abide in My Love.   Over the next 9 weeks we will be looking into God’s word and what Jesus meant when he said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love”. (John 15:9)

As we have discussed before, abide means to continue or dwell.  If we are called and commanded to live out this love and continue in it, we must know it more fully.  We will look at Paul’s definition of love  in 1 Corinthians 13  and specific examples of how Jesus Christ shows us how to love through His life and ministry.  As it has been said, “The best interpreter of scripture is scripture itself”.  More than anything else, I am relying on the scriptures to help us define love and how to apply it to our lives.  I am always continually amazed how the Holy Spirit speaks to us through God’s word and moves us to reflection, repentance, and action.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

If we are abiding in his word, we are armed with everything we need to learn, reflect, correct, and discipline ourselves to be doing the work that Jesus calls us to do; love one another.  Let’s take a minute here to read some scripture about God’s love and the love we are commanded to give to others. I am assuming that you have read or heard these passages before and are familiar with them and the context they are written in.   More thoughts and truths on these verses will be discussed in this series, but for now I want to let God’s word speak directly to you.  I encourage you not to skim over them, but pray that the Holy Spirit will help you to see them as if for the first time. Let the words resonate in your heart and ponder the weight and significance of each truth.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:43-45)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 19:19)

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”(Matthew 22:36-40)

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:27-38)

And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” (Luke 10:25-28)

No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Luke 16:13)

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)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17)

In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:20-21)

“If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (John 15:9-10)

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12)

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another. (John 15:16-17)

Jesus’ love for us is to be the foundation of our love for others.  

Love had its perfect expression among men in the Lord Jesus Christ.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked…But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ. (Ephesians 2:1,4-5)

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:2)

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5)

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. (1 John 4:7-9)

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)

I look forward to this series and what God has to teach us through His word.  I am praying that hearts will be changed (including my own) and we will all learn a little bit more about God’s love for us and feel moved to love others in obedience and out of a heart of thankfulness.

Abide in His Love,

Melissa