Love, from Heaven
We are exhorted by the wisest man who ever lived to “guard our hearts” because “everything we do flows from the heart” (Proverbs 4:23). Your heart is the fountain of all that you do. The heart is at the forefront of possessing genuine faith and living a righteous life. The heart is the core of understanding and experiencing our God-given identity. We must “believe in our hearts” and “confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord” in order to be reconciled with God. And beyond that moment of saving faith, we are told to “keep ourselves in God’s love” (Jude 21). Are you tracking with me? The condition of the heart is central to living an abundant life, as Jesus described it.
It makes sense to me then, as Dallas Willard wrote in his book “The Great Omission,” that “at the center of the care for the heart is the love of God.” You must fully embrace the love of God. Keep it central to your heart. Keep it uppermost in your mind. And you will be appropriately guarding your own heart, which controls everything else that you choose to do.
I’d go one step further in my argument for the unequalled value of possessing the love of God as the controlling force of your life. The Bible teaches that the greatest evidence that a Christian has been baptized in the Holy Spirit and is being filled by Him is the presence and power of God’s love as the active and predominant characteristic of their lives. 1 Corinthians 13 says that “faith, hope, and love abide. But the greatest of these is love.” This chapter has to be in the top three most revered chapters in the Bible. It certainly is the most quoted at weddings, right? Let me suggest three reasons why that is so.
Love empowers our service. In the previous chapter, Paul announced that the Holy Spirit baptizes and gifts every believer “for the common good.” Our lives are meant to be filled with good works that “God ordained before the world began.” We have been appointed to live a life of service and sacrifice for others. But without love, it’s all nothing. From allegedly speaking in the language of the angels to martyrdom, Paul says that without love we are noisy, nothing, failures! It doesn’t sound very loving, but the apostle goes to great lengths of hypothesis to make his point. Without love, I am nothing; I have gained nothing, and I accomplish nothing.
Love animates our relationships. Speaking to a church that was proud and divided, Paul reminds them that true spirituality can never be divided from the quality of our relationships. How we treat each other is a direct reflection of the true state of our hearts before God. Read it again for yourself. ” 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” One of the strongest evidences that you are a child of God is the lavish way that you love others. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” (1 John 4)
Love fulfills our journey. Christian service and sacrifice will pass away, but the love of God remains eternal. To quote the apostle, “Love never fails.” When all the preaching, praying, serving, and growing as human beings is done, we will stand eternally in the love of God. We become adults in the faith when we embrace the love of God as the controlling posture of our lives. Selfish motives and self-righteous actions are shelved in the moment God’s love takes over our hearts. In the words of beloved pastor Tim Keller, “You need to hear, in the center of your being (a.k.a., your heart), the voice of the Father saying, “I love you.””
Church family, I’ll see you Sunday, God willing, when we will dig a little deeper into this famous love chapter of the Bible.