By Daniel Bobinski
I’m going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing if you’ve been alive for more than a month, you’ve noticed societal change on a scale never seen before. Just a hunch. How we respond in these times of tension can set the tone for our Christian witness.
Thankfully, as ambassadors for Christ, we have a loving God whose Spirit indwells us, and gives us the mind of Christ.
Let me ask you to ponder something written by the Apostle Paul:
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of man except his own spirit within him? So too, no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. And this is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom, but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
The natural man does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. For they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual man judges all things, but he himself is not subject to anyone’s judgment. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 10b-16)
Hopefully, you didn’t make the mistake I often do — skim quickly over Scripture verses to read what the author is going to say about them. Even if you didn’t do that, please go back and read that selection again — slowly. Let the meaning sink in.
The concept in these verses is vital for understanding what you’ll read from me in this space for the next two years. Why? Because we’re embarking on an adventure into what it means to love in a godly way, and we can’t love in God’s way by using our own strength or our earthly understanding. We need the mind — and heart — of Christ.
Let me dive a little deeper.
When asked to identify the greatest commandment, Jesus replied, “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and all the Prophets hang on these two commands.” (Matt. 22:37-40)
- Love the Lord
- Love your neighbor as yourself
What I need to underscore is the fact that we cannot do these things on our own. Thankfully, if God dwells within us and has given us His thoughts, should not His thoughts be made manifest as we transform into the image of Christ?
Think of it this way. If I invite God into my life, He washes me completely of sin and dwells within. 1 Corinthians 6:19 is clear: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?”
Scripture is also clear that God is love. In 1 John 4:16b we read, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
Therefore, if I invite God into my life (1 Corinthians 6:19), and God is love (1 John 4:16b), then all the attributes of agape love as detailed in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6 are living in me, courtesy of the Spirit of the Living God.
This is why 1 Corinthians 2:10b-16 is so important. We have been given the mind of Christ, and that means all aspects of agape love are there, too, because God’s very character is love.
Think of it this way. It’s more than God loves; it’s that God IS love. Therefore, all aspects of His relationships are loving. As children of the Most High and ambassadors for Christ, our job is to say no to the desires of the flesh and instead tend the soil of our hearts so that God’s agape love within us will grow.
If you’re wondering how to start doing that, here are some suggestions:
1) Recognize that God is love, and He loves you unconditionally.
2) Receive the love He’s giving you and value it for what it truly is.
This is the starting point because if someone (God) wants to give you something (agape love) so you can give it to someone else, you can’t do that until you first receive what He wants you to give. By ourselves, humans are incapable of loving with true agape. It’s not in our nature. We need to receive agape from God before we can give it away.
Think of Matthew 12:34b: Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. To live out the greatest command, we must first receive God’s love and let it become part of who we are.
Using my previous example, 1 Corinthians 13 tells us love is patient. Applying simple logic, God is love, and that means God is patient. If God is loving us, that means he’s patient toward us. Can we receive that? This goes beyond saying, “I receive your patience toward me, God.” My challenge is to identify specific examples of God being patient with you.
Consider this a homework assignment. Identify at least three or four specific ways God is being patient with you. As you do, give thanks, but also pay attention to your thoughts or feelings as you acknowledge each incident of His patience. This prepares your heart so more of His love will grow, and out of the abundance of your heart, your mouth will speak.
Daniel Bobinski, M.Ed. is an award-winning and best-selling author, and a popular speaker at conferences and retreats. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (208) 375-7606.