"I ask Him to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength - that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in."-Ephesians 3:16 &17a MSG
A question has been asked lately. The words came from someone else besides our pastor and he was quick to acknowledge that. But the Lord Jesus originally asked the question, and the question remains:
Have you learned to love?
This passage in Ephesians 3:7-21 is about Christ's extravagant love. Exceeding the limits of reason or necessity, more than necessity . . .
Lavish - marked by profusion or excess, expended in abundance (comes from the Middle English laves or lavage, which seems to be from the Middle French lavasse, lavache which means downpour of rain, or laver which means to wash).
I don't think you can learn to love until you know His love. I mean know it by experience. Not just recite verses. Or talk about it. Or study it. But you have to experience it; poured out on you, in abundance, in excess because this love has washed over you.
One day over the Christmas break, I was sitting in the early morning hours (thanks to the puppy who woke me ;-) pondering that question.
Have I learned to love?
As Christ loves?
Because that is the only love to compare to.
Hardly . . .
for love is patient (Can I get in the bathroom before 10 p.m. at night? 3 bathrooms for 19 adults & kids = patience),
love is kind (What has been my tone of voice to my husband, my children, my family? Umm, not so kind. My inner tone, the mumblings about slow drivers, etc.? Again, not so kind)
it does not envy (I wish I had the that aspect of the life she has)
it does not boast (Did you see what my child did?)
it is not proud (Well, at least my child is not throwing a tantrum - at this moment!)
it does not dishonor others (You can go first - your kids are younger)
it is not self-seeking (it would be easier for me to not have to do x, y, or z)
it is not easily angered (I know you didn't mean what you said, you were acting out of hurt; I'm full of the Holy Spirit's oil so that comment/action will rub right off of me)
it keeps no record of wrongs (When was the last time you ______? I shouldn't have to even ask that question)
Love does not delight in evil (when someone else hurts, I hurt)
but rejoices with the truth (freedom for those in emotional bondage)
It always protects (I'm choosing not to go there in my mind, because that doesn't line up with what Christ has said),
always trusts (God, I'm trusting you with the outcome of my son's new girlfriend in another country),
always hopes (closely related to trust, it means to expect with desire . . . hmmm)
always perseveres (I'm not giving up on a situation/outcome because You are faithful).
Love never fails. (It is complete - it accomplishes, achieves, gains, reaches, succeeds - always)
As I stopped to think about my thoughts and actions that were being tried during this joyous family celebration aka craziness . . . the spirit allowed the words of the question to cut through. Have you learned to love?
Day by day, learning to love. It's a process. Am I better today than I was a year ago? I sure can't do it on my own "brute strength," although I try. I have to let Him in, invite Him in - daily, moment by moment. That is how He strengthens me with a "glorious inner strength."
I pray that we will all open the door to Him, invite Him in and that He will live in us - through His glorious strength inside of us.
PS I couldn't resist adding the pictures of these different doors. After all, none of us look the same so why should the doors representing us look the same :-)