In a previous post, I shared a definition of God’s love for us as viewed through Jesus Christ – because that’s the only way He loves and sees us – through Jesus Christ. The Father and the Spirit have one filter that they see everything through: The Son!
I shared about the height, depth, width, and length of God’s love. You can read that post here.
Today, we at 3rdRace.org wanted to literally put hands and feet to this love that resides in us through Christ by sharing some practical examples.
Therefore, the stories told here are from all of us to all of you dear readers.
We are using 1 Corinthians 13 as our launching point, and we hope you relate to what we have to share here. I’ve used the NLT for 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, and used the phrase “The Love of Christ in you” in place of “Love”.
[The Love of Christ in you] is patient and kind.
Recently, I drove to San Diego to visit family. It was predicted to be a holiday weekend heavy with travelers. And it was. So my practical application of the Love of Christ in me was, while on the freeways: in His patience, flowing through me, He gave plenty of “following” margin to those ahead of me, and His kindness always moved us back into the right hand lane after passing to allow faster vehicles through that were coming up from behind. (Tim)
[The Love of Christ in you] is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Love is not jealous. This calls out to me, because I can be envious at times of what I see as cool things other people/believers have that I would like. Such as a respectful job (I work at Starbucks) or a nice income (I work at Starbucks 😉 ). These emotions of envy are a behind-the-back spit in Jesus’ face as I KNOW he has brought me to my current circumstances. When I get to longing of what I would like, I must remind myself of the truth (rather, Truth Himself) that I am in the best place in the universe: His will. I think I heard a famous Christian quote that goes “He is no fool who gives up what he can’t keep to attain what he can’t lose.” I can practically show Jesus that I love Him by focusing on the eternal matters and thereby being thankful for where I am in life.
Recently, I told a friend “I’m living for the next life, not this one.” He responded by saying “that sounds like a canned phrase that you’re just repeating.” He went on to explain that “being a Christian doesn’t mean we have to have crappy lives until we get to Heaven.” I replied that that wasn’t what I was trying to convey: what is paramount is Christ, not whether circumstances are pleasant/unpleasant. (Thomas)
[The Love of Christ in you] does not demand its own way.
Our family has recently been visiting with saints in our home state of Oklahoma. It’s been a wonderfully refreshing time, and I got really comfortable really quickly. So much so, that I threw a little tantrum whilst visiting with the Lord. Here’s how it went down:
Me: “I don’t want to pack my family up in a camper and go somewhere for two weeks then somewhere else for a few days then stay in one place for a month or two or seven then start all over again. I don’t want to keep waiting around for the next step doing nothing. I don’t want to plant a church that may or may not make it. I don’t want to work with saints who have no desire of letting go of their own crap to hold fast the Head. I don’t want to leave a place of love and familiarity to face a wilderness of suspicion and hostility. I don’t want to leave a band of brothers whose bonds grow tighter and stronger every day. I don’t want my wife to miss out on sisters and the Life shared among them. I don’t want to make my kids leave new friends – again. I don’t want to keep wondering if we’ll have all the bills paid on time. I don’t want to keep wandering without a home.”
Wow. That was sad and pitiful. That was me trying to demand my own way with the Lord.
Here’s what I heard the Lord saying to each of those tantrums:
Christ: “I AM looking for a people of the tent and altar, both spiritually (with no ties to this world) and naturally (willing and able to move when I say). I AM Strength that rises for those who wait upon Me; I AM a Lamp unto your path, not a floodlight – one step at a time. I AM building My Church, you are not; who are you to determine what “making it” is? I AM Head of My Church, and I AM Revelation; it pleases My Father to reveal Me in His Children; you weren’t so keen on letting go of your crap at one time, either, Bub; let Me do My work. I AM Love and Familiarity; do not forget the feeling of seeing and meeting Me in your brothers and sisters, no matter how new they are to you; I AM your Shepherd, and I make you lie down in green pastures, and I lead you beside still waters, and I restore your soul. I AM your Brother, and there is no bond stronger nor tighter than that. I AM the Shared Life, and I AM to your wife what I AM to you – Everything. I AM a Friend to your children, for they are My children before they are yours. I AM your Provision, and I have never, never left you nor forsaken you, and I never will. I AM your Home, and you are Mine; you do not wander without Me.”
Never demanding. Always loving. Always encouraging. Always there.
Lord, by Your Love, I surrender my way to You. (R.C.)
I learned a big lesson when I pursued something I wanted–actually something I felt I needed, but it was not wise. I asked the Lord about it prior to deciding, but He did not give me a clear answer of yes or no. In hindsight, there were many signs that the decision was not His Life from my temper tantrums and frustrations that came along with not having what I felt like I needed. Instead of waiting, I moved forward and consequently dealt with unnecessary suffering for a time. I finally humbled myself before the Lord, laid down what I felt like I needed and gave Him His way in my heart. There was so much more peace in allowing the Love of Christ in me to have His way, no matter what it looked like, versus me demanding my own way with what I thought I needed. When fully abandoning our hearts to the Lord, sometimes what we see as good for ourselves is nothing compared to the great He has in store. I’m not referring to great possessions or anything this world can give but the greatness of being in circumstances where you get to know more of the person of Christ and He gets to express Himself through you the way He desires. That’s the Life! (Shea)
[The Love of Christ in you] is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
My best friend came to me in repentance and confessed that they had sinned against me. I had previously been unaware of this offense and was surprised and hurt, but the Lord had brought them to a place where they knew they could not go on with Him until this had been resolved and they asked for forgiveness. Now the ball was in my court. This wasn’t something where they simply hurt my feelings, but this was a legitimate sin against me that hurt. Badly. However, I knew the forgiveness I had been offered and freely given in Christ Jesus, and I knew I had had no right to withhold forgiveness from my best friend. As I turned to the Lord, His life within was prompting me to lay my life on the altar and to forgive with His forgiveness. Complete forgiveness that also forgets. Through this forgiveness our relationship was immediately restored and the Lord gave me practical ways to walk that out. My own life wanted to protect myself and put up walls. To make my best friend earn back my trust, but the Lord’s life within wanted to forgive freely, forget completely (keep no record of being wronged), and to joy in the restored relationship. When something would remind me of the offense, I would turn to Jesus and hand my hurt over to Him. He was faithful to comfort me and to heal my hurt every time. Obviously, I haven’t actually forgotten the offense, but I live by a life that has no remembrance of it, and because of that it has no affect on me anymore. (Bridget)
[The Love of Christ in you] does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
We have a permanent house guest living in our home. Our kids play with him all the time, but my wife and I have gotten pretty tired of him. He’s always getting in trouble, losing important items, and making messes. I don’t really want to share his name publicly, but I will. His name is Mr. Nobody.
Every time my kids get close to being in trouble for something (in their minds), Mr. Nobody shows up and takes all the blame. Poor guy.
The reality is that my wife and I don’t want anyone to be in “trouble”; we want to correct whatever went wrong and teach our children a better way. In this, we correct and teach our children in love.
We have no desire to punish our children, and certainly take no joy or satisfaction from it. And yet, it must be done at times.
They know that telling the truth and admitting they are the culprit of a mess or accident will bring them some discomfort (like cleaning up a mess they would prefer to leave for someone else).
And of course, when one child fesses up for something, the other two find it incredibly amusing.
It is one thing for children to hide their misdeeds and revel in others getting caught. But this is not the way of Christ, nor is it the way of those who are growing mature in knowing and expressing His love.
To be honest, my flesh loves it when someone else gets caught and I get away. My old, sinful nature loves it when people “get what they deserve”.
The problem is that Jesus threw all that out the window when He suffered the cross and still said, “Father, forgive them…” He did not want anything bad to happen to them. He didn’t want revenge or payback. Instead, He held on to the truth that each person there was an expression of God and is infinitely loved by God, despite what they had done.
The love of Christ in us has no desire for evil, revenge, or injustice. The love of Christ embraces the truth of who we are in Him. Even Mr. Nobody. (Mark)
[The Love of Christ in you] never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
My husband and I went through a difficult patch in our marriage about 2 years ago that we weren’t sure we’d make it through. We’ve had others before, but this one appeared to be even graver than all our others. To help you understand, I’ll paint a picture of this story by giving you a very small overview of us.
We are high school sweethearts. We’ve known each other since we were 13 years old. We’ve grown up together, took driver’s ed, survived high school and our teenage years together. We attended proms together, and we both played soccer year-round all throughout high school.
We married when we were twenty and now have three boys. Our outlook on life and values are very similar. For both of us, divorce is not an option. We chose this at the beginning of our marriage. We would both agree that we are welded together and inseparable. Our life goals and aspirations developed together over the time we’ve been with each other.
There was never a time we weren’t both on the same page about the direction in life we should go. But we found ourselves in a strange and foreign predicament. There were a set of circumstances that came about, by the Lord’s hand, that revealed to us that we were at different places in life.
The Lord was bringing us into a new season, but this new season would require us both to die to the direction we thought our lives were going. We both, for the first time, found ourselves wanting to head in two completely different directions. It literally almost tore us apart. Neither of us wanted to give into the other’s direction. Remember, we both feel like we’ve been welded together, so we were at an impasse. Another word for this impasse is called death. When it was really difficult, I would look at him and ask, “How are we going to get through this?” He’d reply, “I don’t know, but we will get through it somehow.”
We were both buried in death, death to the way we wanted things to go. We walked through this death for about a year and then some, which in the grand scheme of life is not long, but it was death nonetheless. I felt I had lost my partner in life, not knowing or understanding God was transforming us in and through the death.
One night, at a meeting of the saints, a brother was encouraging everyone, and his encouragement for me was “The Lord has heard your cry.” This brother had no idea what we were walking through. But at that moment, I experienced the person of Faith, Hope, and the One who Endures, and His name is Christ. At that moment, I just knew we would make it, still not sure how, but I just knew.
After that meeting a few months later, we emerged as a new couple. What we had hoped for came to pass. The two became ONE, we were now resurrected as ONE new Man. We both laid down our wants and wishes and found the Lord.
Death and resurrection could now be added to our long list of things we’d experienced together. We are now on the same page again, and that one page is CHRIST. We now both want what He wants, more than what we both want for ourselves. He needed us to come to this place before we could move forward in this new season with Him. SO…
The Love of Christ in us never gave up, never lost faith, always hoped, and endured through our circumstance.
There was no way we could get through death on through to resurrection without Christ. We came to know Him as the one who never loses faith and is always hopeful and endures in every circumstance, even death. He was for us our faith, our hope, and our endurance as we walked through death together. He is our life. (Carrie)
I hope these thoughts and examples have given some practical expression to the love of Christ.
Follow the Life!
Questions for Discussion:
~ How have you experienced or expressed the Lord’s love?
~ Which one of these stories resonates with you and why?