There is no substitute for real Love
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

Love is about what we DO unto others.

Most of what we hear the world talking about when they say love is actually a poor substitute that focuses on our own “feelings”. Sex is used to sell lust falsely as “love”. Community awards and titles are handed out to tout benevolence and charity which even fall short of godly “love”. Our hearts can trick us into thinking we are “a good person” when we are really still doing good for some type of reward or recognition in return. 

True Godly, sacrificial Love is like a foreign language to our selfish flesh that is always evaluating situations from the point of self, asking “What’s in this for me? ” You see, Love is encountered when we free our lives from focusing on ourselves.

No, I’m not perfect yet. I can still find the hidden warnings of pride and impatience and frustration lurking below the surface of my words and actions – or sometimes,  unfortunately, in my words and actions.

But I know Hope in the promises of Christ. In the promise that my belief,  my faith,  has rescued me from my hopeless inability to truly love and serve others deeply, like He did when He gave up His life as a sacrifice for others.

He promises that He will make me like Him, He forgives me and changes me,  and I cling to this promise.

And in the process of walking out this life daily, studying His Word, examining my life, seeking His will, looking for ways to apply His divine instruction, and trusting Him to give me the strength to change and overcome my nature –

As I start making little adjustments and corrections to my old way of living I can’t immediately see a huge change to my day, but I can look back over the expense of a year or two,  and I can see the influence that being faithful has had over my life.

Like a garden, it takes time for the seeds to grow into plants and then blossom and then bear fruit. When we started a garden,  we planted seeds and my daughter came out the next day expecting to see plants and fruit. I guess she’s seen jack and the beanstalk on cartoons and didn’t understand that gardening takes time. But we sometimes still think like children, looking for immediate answers, wanting prosperity and a life of ease and comfort now – instead of putting in the faithful work of a servant of God each day.

We need to examine our lives and find what areas are not yet surrendered,  what things we are still doing that aren’t honoring God – and today, say,  “This does not honor God. It has no place in my life as a vessel of the Holy Spirit. I’m going to lay it down and ask and trust the Lord to help me NEVER pick it up again,  because I realize it is poison and dangerous because it is keeping me from living like Christ.” We must be willing to change in order to walk faithfully.

And as with a garden, we will still see weeds amongst the plants if we look close enough. And if we are running around trying to pull the weeds under our own power,  only tackling the visible issues,  we will find ourselves in the unending nightmare of a “self-help guidance” bookstore/counseling that never ends. This is because we haven’t tackled the underlying root issues,  we are only trying to work towards sweeping up the outside and white washing the tombs that are our cold, hard, deceiving hearts. You see, it isn’t hard work constantly towards living a perfect life. If we see it as an impossible pile of work to tackle,  we may have missed the point as we may be chasing measuring stick of the law as a curse, instead of humbly receiving the blessing of His instruction and applying it in faith.

God Loves us. He loves us enough that He died on the cross, He loves us enough that He gives us divine instruction written down in the Bible so we can change and grow and be alive when we find Him and tap into the root of His love. And once we do, the grattitude that we find as we remember what He has done for us, as we kneel at His feet seeking His will,  as we find ourselves humbly understanding the fear of God and the wisdom that comes from it – it is not work.

It is freedom.

It is Love.

Love to be shared in our serving others in the same way that He has served us – with patience, kindness,  goodness, mercy, instruction, forgiveness – in true,  godly love, for which there is no substitute.

Call to Action
1) Start the day with your family in a single verse devotional.

2) Ask yourselves what you can do today to live that teaching out better than you have in the past.

3) Pray to God for guidance strength and a spirit of encouragement towards each other to succeed together as a family in your goal.

4) Walk with open eyes and open hearts,  remembering your lesson and hoping for opportunities to see the Lord overcoming in your life.

5) Encourage each other with accountability and do not provoke each other,  compete or boast.

6) Share that evening before bedtime how the lesson played out in your lives – both the challenges and the victories,  transparently and honestly

7) Wake up,  rinse and repeat

8) In a year, look back and see the undeniable touch of the hand of God upon your family and the world around you

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