I heard Joyce Meyer say once,
“Love is not a feeling but a decision we make on how we choose to treat other people.”
This seems to fit right in with my current theme on intentionality. In this fallen world we struggle with our own selfish, fleshly wants and desires. But when we believe in Jesus and receive His Holy Spirit we become free from sin. That doesn’t mean we will never sin, though! It just means we are no longer a slave to it. We can intentionally make the choice not to sin. Sin always begins in our mind first. The choice we make on whether or not to entertain this thought dictates the outcome of sinful action or taking the thought captive right then and there. Sometimes, though, I think my mouth works faster than my thought process! (I’m sure that really isn’t true but merely an excuse.) Anyways, I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of intentionality and it doesn’t just pertain to sin. When I read what it says on love in 1 Corinthians 13…
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things….
I can’t help but feel I need to be intentionally purposeful in all my actions until it one day becomes effortless, (if that’s even possible). I mean, the goal of the Christian life is to become like Jesus but that most certainly does not happen over night! (Although…after reading ‘Tortured for Christ’ it would appear that many NEW believers showed astounding acts of love to their torturers which, in turn, led them to Christ.) Anyways, I’m sure I will be striving toward this goal until the day I die. BUT, the more I practice the more my heart will change by the grace of God, which is a gift. Yes. God’s grace is a gift.
Galatians 5: 22-24 speaks of the fruits of the Spirit…
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
And that’s what God will judge us (as believers) on…the fruit we produce throughout our walk with Him. I’m concerned over this fact because for many years I wasn’t producing anything but selfish thorns and weeds, in my opinion. Now that I’m more aware of what’s important in God’s eyes I want to please Him. Thank God for His patience and mercy because I fear my growth has been agonizingly slow! And sometimes I take many steps backwards rather than forward.
In my marriage I am especially guilty of being ‘irritable and resentful.’ Self-control seems to elude me at times as well as gentleness and kindness. I’m sure there are more desirable fruits I lack but it would take too long to list them here, I’M SURE. I think about the state of my marriage and if this is a test.
What if my staying in it is necessary to grow into the faithful Jesus follower I’m meant to be?
What if this marriage is meant to test my faith? Perhaps this is a general rule for all marriages.
What if all of this isn’t even about me but about showing the love of Christ to Rick? If I leave…if I give up does that mean I failed the test?
Am I meant to strive through these circumstances until I learn how to lean entirely on God to the point of overcoming this battle I find myself in?
If I can’t show love to my own husband then what does that say about me?
I’m not sure I can say I’m trying my best to intentionally show him love because I do believe I decided in my heart that I didn’t want to try anymore. How do I stay in something I believe my heart walked out on a long time ago? Only God can fix my hardened heart. Only God can heal the pain I’ve allowed to solidify around my heart like a fortress of protection, of self-preservation.
I really don’t know what the answer is.
All I know is that I’m supposed to pursue love as it says in 1 Corinthians 14:1. We are to earnestly desire the spiritual gifts God wants to give us BUT without love they are worthless! The first and most important piece to becoming and receiving all God has for us is choosing love over all else. Love, with a Godly wisdom, should always come first in all we do. I say this only because God’s Word says so. “Pursue love.” It doesn’t say seek all the gifts and then love. Love is indeed an action and not just a feeling. I actually think it’s more an action than it ever was a feeling. Just look at how Jesus suffered for us. Do you think he was feeling all lovey dovey on that cross?!?! NO! He had to prepare Himself for what He was about to do for all mankind. He even asked His Heavenly Father…
42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
Now that’s what I call an intentional act of love! So I will intentionally try to show love to others in whatever form required for that particular circumstance. I know I’m far from perfect. And I’m guilty of knowing what I should do when the Holy Spirit softly nudges me only to choose to look the other way out of fear, doubt, or just plain laziness. I’m sure I will fall many, many more times which saddens me. But as long as I continue to get back up and sincerely repent AND keep trying, I am sure the Lord will bless my diligence however He sees fit. His grace is sufficient.
8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. 10 That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.…