We are now in the non-festival portion of the Church calendar known as “the time of the Church.” Especially during this time of the year we will focus on Jesus’ words and Jesus’ actions. Together, the Savior’s testimony and His actions direct us to confess and believe, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus as He continues in His conversation with Peter, reminding us, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by My Father in heaven.” – Matthew 16:16 -17
It is the Spirit’s work, which calls, gathers, enlightens, sanctifies, and keeps us in the faith. An example from gardening reminds us of the Spirit’s work among us.
He calls you - by the Gospel – planning the seed of faith into your heart.
He enlightens you - with His gifts – causing growth toward the light of the Gospel.
He sanctifies you – flowers and fruits through good works toward your neighbor.
He keeps you – waters and nurtures the plant of faith so that it remains ever alive and green.
Faith is like a plant
- You can crush it with you heel.
- You cannot make it grow.
St. Paul would remind us – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. – Galatians 5:22-25
Love is the greatest virtue. (See 1 Corinthians 13:13) Love appears first in this list of the fruit of the Spirit. In the Greek language, there are at least four words for love. All of these are God-given.
Eros - Passionate love. The love expressed between a husband and wife.
Philia - Friendship or affectionate love. (Where we get the word “Philadelphia,” the city of brotherly love) This is the love that you'd find in a family, or between friends.
Storgē - Natural affection, like that found from a parent to a child.
Agapē - Unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial love.
Agapē love is the kind of self-giving love shown by the Father when he gave His Son to bear our sin (See John 3:16). God's love doesn't just fix itself on a worthy person, but is love that initiates care and concern whether or not it is reciprocated. Our understanding of love comes from God: "We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:19). The greatest commandments - and they sum up the entire law - are: “to love God and love your neighbor.” (See Matthew 22:36-40).
Perhaps the best way to understand agapē love is to read and meditate on 1 Corinthians 13, the famous "love chapter" from the Bible. This kind of love is beyond us. But when the Holy Spirit comes, He changes us: "God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." (Romans 5:5)
We are now half way through the calendar year of 2019. The Lord has promise to guide lead and sustain us as He orders each of our lives by His Spirit. The Lord has promised, “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: 'Streams of living water will flow from within him.'" (John 7:38) “And the LORD will guide you continually.” (Isaiah 58:11) In every episode of your life look to Jesus. He has promise to give guidance in every circumstance. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure. “ (Philippians 2:13)
Image: Luther’s Seas © Higher Things