Faith Working Through Love
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love. (Galatians 5:6)
Faith working through love- what a perfect description of the new life.
The power for work is love. It was love that moved God to all His work in creation and redemption. It was love that enabled Christ as man to work and to suffer as He did. It is love that can inspire us with the power of a self-sacrifice that seeks not its own, but is ready to live and die for others. It is love that gives us the patience that refuses to give up the unthankful or the hardened. It is love that reaches and overcomes the most hopeless. Both in ourselves and those for whom we labor, love is the power for work. Let us love as Christ loved us.
The power for love is faith. Faith roots its life in the life of Christ Jesus, which is all love. Faith knows, even when we cannot realize fully, the wonderful gift that has been given into our heart in the Holy Spirit shedding abroad God’s love there. Faith knows that there is a fountain of love within that can spring up into eternal life, that can flow out as rivers of living waters. It assures us that we can love, that we have a Divine power to love within us, as an unalienable endowment of our new nature.
The power to exercise and show love is work. It is only by doing that you know you have; a grace must be acted out before we can rejoice in its possession. This is the unspeakable blessedness of work, and makes it so essential to a healthy Christian life that it wakens up and strengthens love, and makes us partakes of its joy.
Faith working through love- in Christ Jesus nothing avails but this.
John 3:16 tells us that because God loved, He gave His Son. In John 15 Jesus says that it is love that moves Him to lay down His life for us.
16 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life.
13 No one has greater love [nor stronger commitment] than to lay down his own life for his friends.
The expression of love is an action toward the one loved. It is impossible to love and remain unmoved with beneficial action to the one loved.
The two most powerful forces on earth are those of love and hate. Either of them will move us to go far beyond our normal conduct. We have read stories of a mother who will almost fearlessly rush into a burning building to rescue her child. We have also read stories of those who will sacrifice even their own lives to take revenge on those who they hate. Both love and hate are beyond reason. It is almost impossible to have someone who strongly loves or hates to think reasonably. One may love with such intensity that they overlook the obvious evil in another and one may hate with such intensity that they cannot see any good in the one they hate. What powerful forces these are and neither of them create complacency in their subjects. Both move them to action.
The love that God has for us moved Him to extreme action; the action of clothing the Son in the flesh and then sacrificing that Son on the cross for our sins. That is radical love and a love that merits an identical response. To say that we love God without any action toward Him is at best empty words. This is the heart of salvation and Christianity. We do not just keep the “rules” for if that is the extent of our relationship with God we will never succeed. Consider the Pharisees who were rule keepers. Jesus described them as “white sepulchers filled with death.” In other words they complied outwardly with the law but their hearts were still dead in sin. If our relationship with God is driven by performing the expected rituals and keeping the expected rules we will never find the true freedom in Christ Jesus and as Peter says we will return again and again to our old ways. It’s like what we do when we’re on the highway. We will obey the speed limit as long as we see a police car and as soon as it’s out of sight, we resume exceeding the speed limit. If our conduct is determined by the environment then we will conform to such environment but if our hearts have been transformed by the love of God and we respond to His love with our love then our environment will have little if any impact on our actions.
In any relationship love can be measured in its expression. I don’t mean that it’s measured in its performance of expected responses. For example a husband may buy flowers and chocolates on Valentines Day or gifts at Christmas or celebrate his wife’s birthday with the appropriate responses and yet not really love her. Love is not expressed just at scheduled times but is a daily action that stems not from expected behavior but from action motivated by an inner love. That love may be expressed in simple things but more important in attitude. Love searches for ways to express itself to benefit the one loved. It does so without an expectation of return. It is,as the phrase has been coined, a 100/0 relationship. Our input is 100% and our expected response is 0%. Now we know that God was and is 100% committed to us and He went to the cross without a contract with us. Since He did so ought not our response to His love be the same. Ought He not possess our whole heart and ought not our lives be lived to please Him and ought not our work be His work.
Jesus said that if we truly loved Him we would keep His commandments and John tells us that those commandments are not hard. Why? Because no demand that love makes is too difficult.
Think about all your relationships. Ask yourself the question. Am I motivated by love or duty? Are my actions the outcome of love or am I only doing what I feel is required of me? In your relationship with God ask yourself: Do I really believe that God totally loves me? Do I really love Him and am I expressing that love back to Him by living and working in such a way that it pleases Him?
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing. If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all. And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3,13
Dr. John Thompson