I work in a local coffee shop and I have the opportunity to interact with numerous people every day. Some people I barely know while others are “regulars” that I get to interact with often and have really enjoyed getting to know. Today I had the opportunity to meet the husband of one of our customers, or at least find out who he was. As it turned out I knew both of them and care about both of them but I didn’t know they were married to each other. Too my defense this was the first time I saw them together but I still feel like I should have known that they were married to one another. It got me to thinking about whether or not I had done a good job of caring about them. In this instance I feel confident in my level of knowledge about their lives based upon the amount of time I have known them, but what about other people I interact with? Do I truly value the people in my life?
Certainly we have all had superficial conversations with people before, especially in passing, but is that a high enough standard? Shouldn’t we care for people better while we have the opportunity? God has been convicting me about this lately so as a result I have started slowing down more and trying to focus more upon the people in my life, but I know I could still improve as I have fallen way short of the standard in many cases. What exactly is the standard though? We are told that the second greatest commandment is to love our neighbors as ourselves (Mk. 12:30-31) so I would say that is a great place to start. Another passage says that we should love one anther just as God loves us and that people will know that we are God’s disciples if we love one another (Jn. 13:34-35). 1 Jn. 4:7-8 states that we are to love one another because love is from God and that those who were born of God love while those who do not love do not know God.
Love is a topic that gets much attention in the Bible and it should in our personal lives as well. 1 Corinthians 13 is an entire chapter dubbed as the “love chapter” and is the home of the often quoted “love never fails” (v. 8), “love is patient, love is kind…” (v. 4), and “now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (13). Another major section in the Bible focused on love and maybe a little less known is found in Galatians 5 where we are taught how to live a life led by the Spirit.
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
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. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
Love is a fruit of the Spirit so if you do not have love then you do not have the Spirit within you, for the desires of the flesh are contrary to those of the Spirit. I can definitely tell when I am not being motivated by the Spirit, but have allowed myself to succumb to the desires of the flesh. It is so easy to be selfish and so hard to be self-less. It is so easy to act like other people don’t matter and so difficult to love well. It is so easy to forget that we are heirs to the King, that our lives have been bought and that our sins have been paid for. As a result we are to live life differently than the rest of the world; however, often times my life does not look different than that of the person next to me.
Brothers and sisters we are not called to live a life led by the flesh and I don’t want to either. What good is it to be a child of God if we do not take seriously the authority that we have over Satan and his demons? What good is it to be a child of God if we don’t act any differently than the person who does not know God. I would argue that if we are living in this way that we need to re-evaluate our lives and how close we are to God and possibly whether or not we have actually given our lives to Christ. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love” (Gal. 5:13).