Monday, August 22, 2011

Do You Want to Love? Part 2

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.                  Philippians 1:9-11  ESV

Is God, the Holy Spirit, leading Paul to pray for something that is not the will of God?

In the previous verse (Phil. 1:8) Paul called God as witness for how he yearned for the people with the affection of Jesus Christ, himself. The Apostle Paul was definitely asking God for something that God would do. Paul’s prayer is a request that God would definitely bring to pass; IF the recipients wanted to love.

It is my hope that God will give you the gift of faith regarding His words, so that you can follow the Lord Jesus Christ in this life of love; and not just wait for ‘eternal life’ to begin in the here-after.

In group prayer meetings it is common to hear prayers for someone’s healing, of for someone’s employment, or for someone to find faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. These are good prayers, and we should always be willing to ask God for these blessings.

But it is very rare to hear someone asking our Lord for the ability to love Him and others ‘more and more’. It could even be considered a mean-spirited insult to ask the Lord that the pastor, or another person, be blessed with the ability to be more loving. We presume that ‘love’ is inherent in our nature (actually, it is not). We assume that love is automatic. In our ignorance of the love of God we neglect the importance of God’s Great Commandment, to love Him will all of our being(Matt. 22:37, 38). We try to be disciples, yet ignore Jesus’ own priority of the New Commandment to ‘love one another’ (Jn 13:34, 35), even though loving one another is the primary mark of His disciples.

We live in a world that is filled with much lawlessness, and we see it increasing over the years. The increase of lawlessness alarms us, for we see prophecies of the last days coming to pass before our eyes. But it is easy to see the problems of ‘other people’ and miss the warning signs that are meant for us, personally.

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold (Matt. 24:12).

Has the love of the American church grown cold? If American Christians do not even know what ‘love’ is; then their love is stone cold. Can our Lord’s prophetic condemnation of people in the last days be about us? You can decide to find out, and then make sure that it is not about you.

Please do not assume that the American cultural definition of ‘love’ is accurate in God’s eyes. Such an assumption on the part of the Christian church is direct evidence that love in the church has grown cold. God has told us about His most excellent way, and continuing apathy about His greatest priority is inexcusable. This is a terrible thing. It is faithlessness to what God considers most important.

Learn what God means when he uses the word ‘love’ (1 Cor. 13:4-7). Watch your desire to treat people in this truly loving way and measure your faithfulness to your Lord by the harmony you find between what you say you believe and what you actually do. Watch the way you think about people, and the things you say to people, and the things you do to other people; and measure your thoughts and words and actions against what God has said.

Measure your Christian maturity against the scale of your love ‘abounding, more and more’. Then you will feel no shame when someone prays that you will be more loving. You will understand it as a request for God’s greatest blessing upon you. In hungering and thirsting for this righteousness you are on your way to being satisfied (Matt. 5:6).

If you want direct evidence that love is growing cold in American churches, then you can see it for yourself. The next time you are in a prayer meeting, offer the request “that the people of the congregation become more loving”. It is certain that someone will write your request down. One or two may voice the request in prayer. Perhaps you will find that your request will find a tiny part in the enthusiasm of the congregation. Perhaps you will find that the congregation does not even know how to meaningfully pray for love. Perhaps you will find that the congregation is far more intense as they pray for health, and wealth, and personal convenience.

The book, “The Most Excellent Way”, can help you, your spouse, and your family and church. 

1 comment:

  1. Good post and good reminder. A lot of times when we pray with Ruby, we pray, "Help us to love each other and other people how you love us."

    I really want her to grow up understanding that it's the way to approach loving people.