Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 John 3:22-24 ~ Believe and Love

on February 17, 2014

And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. AND THIS IS HIS COMMANDMENT, THAT WE BELIEVE IN THE NAME OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER, just as he has commanded us.  Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

When we read the Bible long enough, God uses it to answer our questions.  Several days ago when I was studying the word “abide” from 1 John 2:18-29 I asked the Lord, “How do I abide in You?” The answer is to believe in the name of Jesus and love others.

To believe means to have faith in or accept something as truth.  We abide in the Lord when we daily live out our belief that Jesus is who He and His Father says He is–God the Son.  That He accomplished what He said He did–the salvation of all who believe in His finished work on the cross and resurrection.  And that He’s able to do what He says He can–the impossible.  We believe in Jesus’ position, power, and promises!  Believing in the name of Jesus means that we don’t go ahead with our own plans, but submit to the ones He has planned for us.  It means that we don’t spend our lives trying to make our own righteousness, but we completely trust in His grace alone.

Abiding in the Lord doesn’t just hinge on believing in Jesus, but also in letting that belief affect our actions–specifically in the area of love.  I have a son who thinks his sports skills should be good right away–a natural–but he is so consumed with how he looks in the process that it stunts his ability to play.  His pride prevents him from taking risks on the basketball court.  I feel like that when it comes to loving others.  As a Christian, loving others is my job and it should come naturally to me because it’s God’s character that He infused into me when I became His child.  But loving others is the most challenging part of my spiritual walk.  Pride and selfishness get in the way.  I’m too afraid to risk when it comes to loving others. (How would loving others affect me? What if my love is rejected? Do they really deserve my love?)  Obedience to God is how we demonstrate love to Him.  He has given us only one other command to obey–and that’s loving others.  Loving others demonstrates love to Him!  It’s easy to say, “I love God,” but real love is not words, it’s action (1 John 3:18).  It’s one thing to say, “I can make that basket.”  It’s another thing to shoot the ball and prove it!

Loving others is essential for abiding in Christ.  But, loving others is impossible by sheer will power and human strength.  Love happens because the Holy Spirit abides in us.  Surrendering to His power and work in our lives enables us to express the love of God to others.  Love requires laying down our pride–admitting we need supernatural help to love not only “difficult” people but all people according to God’s definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. Love requires laying selfishness aside–laying down our rights, our reputation, our schedule, our will–just like Jesus did (Phil. 2:3-7, Matthew 26:39).

When I don’t feel close to the Lord, I need to examine my heart to see if there is anyone that I am not loving selflessly, unconditionally, and sacrificially.  Being unloving prohibits abiding!  I know this personally because today, I was feeling distant from the Lord, and it was due to a critical spirit towards others.  Thankfully I BELIEVE that Jesus’ sacrifice and grace are the only means to forgiveness and restoration!  Now I am abiding again!!!

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