Nothing in this universe happens by accident. For everything there is a reason and a purpose. There is a reason for the sun, the moon, and the stars. There is a reason for summer and winter, spring and fall. There is a reason for rivers and oceans, trees and grass, rain and sunshine. For all things there is a reason and a purpose. There is also a reason and a purpose for you. God measures life not in terms of years or time but in terms of purpose. Purpose is the original intent or reason for a thing to exist. We are all created with a destiny and purpose so the question needs to be asked, “Why were you born? For what purpose did God place you on this planet?” In both the Old and New Testaments people are commanded to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind” (Deut. 6:5;Matt. 22:37). Jesus said in John 13:34, “A new commandment I give to you, that you also love one another.” Jesus also said to “love your enemies” (Matt. 6:44) and we are told to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). Husbands are to love their wives (Eph. 5:25) and wives their husbands (Titus 2:4). The list is endless for love is the theme of the entire Bible. In fact, God “is” love (1 John 4:8). So why were you born? The answer is obvious. Clearly, you were born to love.
Paul wrote in Eph. 5:12, “Therefore be followers of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” As born-again believers we are to be imitators of God as dear children imitate their parents. Jesus came to lay down His life for us and we ought to do the same for others. The Message Bible says, “Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us. Love like that.” We are commanded to love one another to the same measure as Jesus loved us. It is so important that you let God love you because your giving of love is limited to your receiving of love. When you let God love you, when you receive His love, you will learn to love yourself because you’ll see who you are through His eyes. As a result of doing this you’ll also be able to see others through the eyes of God and what follows will be a continual outpouring of love into their lives. By doing this you become a witness to the entire world. Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). The sinners of the world are not drawn into the Christian faith by us loving them but rather when they observe the demonstrated love that we have for one another.
Whether we realize it or not people are watching how we live. Our actions speak louder than our words and this is why there must be zero tolerence for strife between fellow believers. Strife is the manifested presence of the devil whereas love, joy, and peace is the manifested presence of God. Heb. 13:1 says “Let brotherly love continue.” The Message Bible tells us, “Stay on good terms with each other, held together by love.” Our God is a covenant God and we need to begin to love one another with a covenant love that comes as a result of knowing Him. Jesus said in John 15:9,10 (MSG), “I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make your-selves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done – kept my Fathers’ commands and made myself at home in his love.” Jesus told us to abide in His love and this is what it means to live and make yourself at home in His love. You live inside yourself and not some geographical location. Living in a certain city won’t make you happy even though many people think it will. You live from the inside out and if your heart is right you can be happy anywhere. If your heart is not right you can live in a mansion and have all the money you need and still not be happy. The key to everlasting joy is to make yourself at home in His love. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).
Paul wrote in Rom. 13:8, “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” Love is a debt you owe to everybody even if you feel like they don’t deserve it. It should be on the forefront of our minds that God loved each of us when we were yet sinners and also didn’t deserve it. Love is not a feeling but rather is a spiritual force radiating out of your innermost being. God is love and His love is revealed and manifested by you being nice to someone. This love can produce good feelings but you can love without feelings or even with bad feelings. Love is a decision and when the right decision is made you can love somebody even when you want to tell them off or punch their lights out. The nature of the flesh is to respond to hurt feelings. If someone slaps you, you want to slap them back harder. The key is to be led by the Spirit and not by fickle feelings that are forever changing from one moment to the next. Gal. 5:15,16 tells us, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another! I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”
Love does no harm to a neighbor (Rom. 13:10) and the Message Bible records these instructions from Romans 12, “Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle” (vs. 9,10). “Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath” (vs. 14). “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody” (vs. 17,18). “Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good” (vs. 21). Love thinks no evil (1 Cor. 13:50) and takes no thought about how to hurt somebody. Neither should one rejoice if and when your enemy falls and gets hurt. God loves through you and you should help that fallen person get back on his feet and point him in the right direction. In the Spirit we are to “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10) but in our relationships with other people we are to be harmless as a dove. Titus 3:1b,2 tells us “to be ready for every good work, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” Love cares when something good happens to somebody else. Love is not jealous or envious but instead rejoices when somebody else gets blessed. John, the disciple of love who laid his head on the bosom of Jesus, gave what is probably the most prominent instruction about love when he wrote in 1 John 3:18, “My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” The Message Bible says, “let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality.” John knew that God will move when love is demonstrated.
The entire Bible is a book of love and throughout its’ pages are recorded several principles of covenant love that should govern the thoughts, words, and actions of every born-again child of God. John 15:12,13 tells us, “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down ones’ life for his friends.” One of the first things we learn about the love of God is that it always gives. John 3:16, probably the most famous verse in all of scripture, begins by saying, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” Just as faith without works is dead (James 2:26), so also love without works is dead. Love is an action and giving is the greatest expression of love. If we love, we give. We are the love child of a love God and love always gives. Paul wrote in Gal. 2:20b, “I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Don’t just give of your resources, give of yourself. Instead of paying to have your church painted, get up off that comfortable chair and go down to the church and help do the work. Don’t love from a distance but personally get involved. 1 Tim. 6:18 says, “Let them do good that they may be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share.”
Giving should be the lifestyle of every born-again believer and this includes a whole lot more than money. Finances is only a small part of giving and before money can be given we need to first be willing to cheerfully give of ourselves. We need to get involved in the lives of other people and when we do we’ll quickly realize that there is always something we can give that will promote the lives of those we come in contact with. We can give people our love, time, loyalty, fellowship, counsel, prayers, our words and any natural resource we have at our disposal. Love gives whatever is needed and we also need to be consistent in our giving. Daily look for ways to give and enrich those around you. Buy a co-worker a cup of coffee or bake a dozen cookies and give them to a neighbor. Give somebody you know a phone call and tell them how blessed you are to have them as a friend. Offer to baby-sit at no charge for a single mother with four children who never gets a chance to be by herself and do the things she truly enjoys. Take an elderly person to the shopping mall with you or a fatherless child to a ballgame. And, if nothing else, you can always give somebody a smile and a friendly “hello.” Let people see the joy that is within you. And who knows? These acts of kindness may birth in them the desire to know the same God you know. What more can a person offer another than the opportunity to receive eternal life?
John 4:23 says, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.” Everybody likes praise. God likes praise. People like praise. Even cats and dogs like praise. Praise is a sign of acceptance and is this not the primary need of all people? Throughout history people have gone to great lengths to accomplish great deeds all for the purpose of being noticed and accepted by others. People have a craving to be received willingly and favorably. They want to be approved of and believed in. We need to learn to accept people not based on our preference or their performance but because God has accepted them. Paul says in Rom. 15:7, “Therefore receive one another just as Christ also received us, to the glory of God.” The Message Bible states, “So reach out and welcome one another to Gods’ glory. Jesus did it, now you do it!” Just as we praise and worship God for His worthiness, so must we compliment and lift up other people for theirs. Words are the most important thing in the universe. They can build up or tear down and they reveal what is in a persons’ heart. When you submit your life to God submit your words to Him as well. “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift” (Eph. 4:29 MSG).
The NKJV Bible instructs us to “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Paul is telling us to take our words, wrap them with truth, love, and sincerity, and as a gift present them to whoever is close by. The NIV states, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Words that do not benefit another person must be left unspoken. Compliments spoken from the heart make people feel good about themselves and births in them the desire to respond back in a favorable manner to the person giving the compliment. This leads to unity among the brethren and this should be the ultimate goal of every believer. A compliment spoken from the heart can “break the ice” between strangers and will open the door that leads to a life of love, fellowship, and faithful service to our Heavenly Father. If you will take the time and make the effort you will always find something good in the lives of people to compliment them about. And, by all means, be sincere in your praise giving. Nobody likes false praise. Covenant love means you will be real and honest in your relationships. Let your compliments come from a conviction in your heart that you really believe what you’re saying. If you will remain sincere, in turn, you also will be blessed as you heap praises upon those around you. Prov. 15:23 says, “A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is.”
Our God is a giving God and there is no better indicator of His presence in our hearts than in the attitude we develop about giving. How you give determines and reveals what’s inside of you. Jesus said in Matt. 10:8b, “Freely you have received, freely give.” You received because God freely gave. It pleased the Father to have Jesus pay the price for our sins (Is. 53:10) and it pleased Jesus to do so (Heb. 12:2). You can’t doubt Gods’ love for us because He gave us the most precious thing He had – His Son! Jesus submitted His will to that of the Heavenly Father and went to the cross for us proving that suffering that doesn’t benefit others is vain. Jesus shed His blood and freely gave up His life for us and because He lives in our hearts we can freely give to others. Godly love gives with no strings attached and with no thought of being repaid. If you’re selfish and stingy or if you expect something in return from your giving then you’re either not born-again or you’re not letting the love of God lead you and guide you. If people owe you something because you gave to them then God is not your source – people are – and this is unbelief. If you want something in return then you’re not giving. Love is not a loan, it’s a gift that must be given quickly, willingly, and gladly.
One must forever be on guard because the devil is a thief who will continually attempt to steal from you the proper motive you should have for your giving. Luke 4:5-7 reveals to us the selfishness of devilish giving, “Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.'” Devilish giving is when you give expecting something in return from the person you gave it to. It’s when you say, “I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine” (see Luke 6:30-36). The devil was bribing Jesus and by manipulation was trying to get something back from Him. Those who give this way have minds that have been blinded by the god of this age and will live a life of deception and destruction. 2 Cor. 4:4 (MSG) gives a description of those who submit to devilish giving, “All they have eyes for is the fashionable god of darkness. They think he can give them what they want, and that they won’t have to bother believing a Truth they can’t see. They’re stone-blind to the day-spring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get.” The picture Jesus painted was of a loving and freely giving Father and when His example is followed we’ll overcome every attempt of the devil to get us to do otherwise.
1 John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.” When you lay down your life for the brethren sacrifices are made. You must give up something in order to walk in love. We live in a selfish world and the needs of other people aren’t even noticed anymore. People are too busy thinking only of themselves and spend too much time on their jobs, hobbies, and the pursuit of worldly pleasures. The devil is a master of preoccupation and if you’ll let him he’ll consume all your time thus preventing you from having the time and resources to bless others. Selfishness is a work of the flesh and Paul writes in Gal. 5:19-21 (MSG), “It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cut-throat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.”
Love, on the other hand, freely gives and this is what separates devilish giving from Godly giving. The word “give’ is in the Bible some 2000 times and giving is the greatest expression of love there is. Giving is not what you do, it’s what you are! God is love, and love gives. Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20a). Jesus freely gave Himself to you and now you must give yourself to somebody else. Don’t do this mournfully and act like it’s a burden to you. Giving brings joy so put a smile on your face and help somebody cheerfully and willingly. Jesus said in John 13:17, “If you know these things, happy are you if you do them.” The joy of the Lord is your strength (Neh. 8:10) and sadness makes you weak. If all you do is think of yourself you’ll be sad and weak all the time and it’s a bad witness to the world for a believer to be depressed. Remember, the world is watching you. If you help others you’ll be stronger, happier, and more blessed than if you did something for yourself. We all have limits on our time, money, and resources and what you spend on yourself you can’t spend on somebody else. It’s a choice you’ll have to make. If you live only for yourself you’ll lose your life and it will slip away like sand flowing through your fingers. Jesus endured the cross for the joy that was set before Him. He let Himself be sacrificed and we have to have the same mindset. And when we, like Jesus, put others first we also will have joy unspeakable.
RANDALL J. BREWER