N Friday, October 31, 2014
   
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Apples of Gold (by Doug Apple): Living the Most Excellent Way

doug apple head shotOur love should be maturing.

We should see growth over time.

How we love people this year should be better than how we loved people last year.

In the same way we can watch our income grow, or our investments, or our education, we can watch our love grow for people.

How we love our spouse or our siblings, or our parents or our neighbors – we should see measurable growth over time.

How can you tell if your love is growing?  Here is one measuring stick:  patience.

First Corinthians 13:4 says love is patient.  If your love is growing for someone, you will find yourself being more patient with them, because real love is patient.

“But Doug, I do love them; but they are driving me crazy, and you want me to just sit around and be patient?”

Picture a grandfather and his little granddaughter fishing on a dock.  He is teaching her to cast, but my goodness, that hook is flying everywhere!  Does patience mean the grandfather sits there and does nothing while the little girl whips her fishing line all over creation?  No.  Patience means helping her work on it, even when it’s frustrating.

Can you feel the love in that scene, a loving grandfather patiently teaching his granddaughter to fish?  That’s a great picture of mature love because there’s so much patience.

Now that grandfather may not have been so patient with his own daughter, but here’s the good thing.  His love has grown.

So the question is, is our love growing?  Do we love people more now than we did before?

This is a good indicator of spiritual growth.  If we are really growing as Christians, it will show up as increased love for people.

If we find that people are annoying us more, it’s likely that we are shrinking spiritually.

Galatians 5:22 says that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  It’s a byproduct.  Walk more in the Spirit and you automatically walk more in love.

We all say dumb, ignorant things from time to time, so how do we respond when people say dumb, ignorant things to us?

Our response today should not be the same as it was a year ago.  Why not?  Because our love should be growing.  Ignorant statements have less impact on us because we love people more.

Love is the power position.  It puts you on the high ground.  It makes you bigger than the situation.

When you love someone, and they say something ignorant to you – and I’m talking about real, Godly love here, not some Hollywood flakery – their ignorant statements don’t have the same impact because love deflects them.  Love is an outward-flowing energy that overpowers everything coming back at it.

Jesus told us to do something that, on the surface, sounds impossible.  In Matthew 5:44 He said, “…love your enemies…”

I’m not sure we can consistently love anyone, friend or foe, in our natural selves; but it can be done as we walk more and more in the Spirit.  The more in tune we are with the Holy Spirit, the more fruit of the Spirit we will see in our lives, and the more love we will have for people.  This love will grow and mature to the point that yes, we will even be able to have a great love for our enemies.

If you want to find someone to follow as a leader, if you want someone to be your mentor, find someone who has this mature love.  Pettiness, selfishness and pride will be shrinking in them, and mature love will be taking their place.

So how can we have more and more of this powerful love?

Love is a fruit of the Spirit, meaning we need more of the Holy Spirit, or maybe I should say we need to be more under the influence of the Holy Spirit.

One way we do that is by eliminating the things that beat back the influence of the Spirit.  First Thessalonians 5:19 says, “Do not quench the Spirit.”  Ephesians 4:30 says, “…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God…”

We should repent of all sin and turn from it.  Then we can draw near to God and He will draw near to us.  (James 4:8)  And the Spirit will teach us to walk in holiness and righteousness so that we won’t grieve Him.

Luke 11:13 says, “…how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

So we can ask God for more of His Spirit, to be influenced more and more by His Spirit.  As we come under more and more of the Spirit’s influence, we will see more and more fruit of the Spirit, including God’s great love.

In John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Paul said love is the most excellent way.  (First Corinthians 12:31)

Isn’t that the way we want to live our lives, in the most excellent way?

It’s the way of love, and it’s a love that should continue to grow and mature all the days of our lives.

Comments?

E-mail me:  dougapple@wave94.com.

May God bless you today!  With Apples of Gold…I’m Doug Apple.
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