It was God's kind of love that brought you to Christ. It is this kind of love that is able to sustain and encourage you each day. Through His love in you, you can bring others to Christ and minister to fellow believers as God has commanded.
God's love was supremely expressed in the life of Jesus Christ. You have a perfect, complete picture of God's kind of love in the birth, character, teachings, life, death and resurrection of His Son.
How does this love enter your life? It becomes yours the moment you receive Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit comes to indwell your life. The Scripture says, "We feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." God is Spirit and the "fruit of the Spirit is love..." When you are controlled by the Spirit, you can love with God's love.
When Christ comes into your life and you become a Christian, God gives you the resources to be a different kind of person. With the motivation, He also gives you the ability. He provides you with a new kind of love.
But how do you make love a practical reality in your life? How do you love? By resolutions? By self-imposed discipline? No. The only way to love is explained in my final point.
Everything about the Christian life is based on faith. You love by faith just as you received Christ by faith, just as you are filled with the Holy Spirit by faith, and just as you walk by faith.
If the fruit of the Spirit is love, you may logically ask, "Is it not enough to be filled with the Spirit?" This will be true from God's point of view, but it will not always be true in your actual experience.
Demonstrating God's Love Requires Faith
Many Christians have loved with God's love and have demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit in their lives without consciously or specifically claiming His love by faith. Yet, without being aware of the fact, they were indeed loving by faith; therefore, they did not find it necessary to claim God's love by faith as a specific act.
Hebrews 11:6 says, "without faith it is impossible to please Him." Obviously there will be no demonstration of God's love where there is no faith.
If you have difficulty in loving others, remember that Jesus has commanded, "Love each other as much as I love you." It is God's will for you to love. He would not command you to do something that He will not enable you to do. In 1 John 5:14, 15, God promises that if you ask anything according to His will, He hears and answers you. Relating this promise to God's command, you can claim by faith the privilege of loving with His love.
God has an unending supply of His divine, supernatural, agape love for you. It is for you to claim, to grow on, to spread to others, and thus to reach hundreds and thousands with the love that counts, the love that will bring them to Jesus Christ.
In order to experience and share this love, you must claim it by faith; that is, trust His promise that He will give you all that you need to do His will on the basis of His command and promise.
This truth is not new. It has been recorded in God's Word for two thousand years. But it was a new discovery to me that early morning some years ago and, since that time, to many thousands of other Christians with whom I have shared it. When I began to practice loving by faith, I found that problems of tension with other individuals seemed to disappear, often miraculously.
In one instance, I was having a problem loving a fellow staff member. It troubled me. I wanted to love him. I knew that I was commanded to love him; yet, because of certain areas of inconsistency and personality differences, it was difficult for me to love him. But the Lord reminded me of 1 Peter 5:7, "Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about you and watching everything that concerns you." I decided to give this problem to Him and love this man by faith. When I claimed God's love for the man by faith, my concern lifted. I knew the matter was in God's hands.
An hour later, I found under my door a letter from that very man, who had no possible way of knowing what I had just experienced. In fact, his letter had been written the day before. The Lord has foreseen the change in me. This friend and I met together that afternoon and had the most wonderful time of prayer and fellowship we had ever experienced together. Loving with God's love by faith had changed our relationship.
Two Attorneys Turn from Hate to Love
Two gifted attorneys had great professional animosity, even hatred one for the other. Even though they were distinguished members of the same firm, they were constantly criticizing and making life miserable for each other.
One of the men received Christ through our ministry and some months later came for counsel.
"I have hated and criticized my partner for years," he said, "and he has been equally antagonistic toward me. But now that I am a Christian, I don't feel right about continuing our warfare. What shall I do?
"Why not ask your partner to forgive you and tell him that you love him?" I suggested.
"I could never do that!" he exclaimed. "That would be hypocritical. I don't love him. How could I tell him I love him when I don't?"
I explained that God commands His children to love even their enemies and that His agape, supernatural, unconditional love is an expression of our will which we exercise by faith.
For example, the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love is:
... very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
"You will note," I explained, "that each of these descriptions of love is not an expression of the emotions, but of the will."
Together we knelt to pray and my friend asked God's forgiveness for his critical attitude toward his law partner and claimed God's love for him by faith.
Early the next morning, my friend walked into his partner's office and announced, "Something wonderful has happened to me. I have become a Christian. And I have come to ask you to forgive me for all that I have done to hurt you in the past and to tell you that I love you."
His partner was so surprised and convicted of his own sin that he responded to this amazing confession by asking my friend to forgive him. Then to my friend's surprise, his partner said, "I would like to become a Christian, too. Would you show me what I need to do?"
After my friend showed him how through the Four Spiritual Laws, they knelt together to pray. Then they both came to tell me of this marvelous miracle of God's love.
Other Relationships Changed by Love
A special assistant to a former governor of California once visited our headquarters at Arrowhead Springs, and during his visit he received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. He began to discover how to love by faith. Recently his son had left home after they had had an argument. Contemplating the problem, this new Christian realized that he had never told his son that he loved him.
On his way home from Arrowhead Springs, he asked the Lord to bring his son home so that he could make things right. He wanted to express his love for him. As he neared his home, his heart quickened. The upstairs light was on indicating that the son had come home! Soon, father and son embraced, became reconciled, and established a new relationship founded on God's forgiving love.
A young college football player, who had been raised in a community where blacks are resented, had always found it impossible to love blacks. One evening he heard me talk to a group of racially mixed students about loving by faith, especially in reference to loving those of other races.
"As you prayed," he told me later, "I claimed God's love for the black man. Then, as I left the amphitheater, the first person I saw was a black man, and he was talking to a white girl. Now that is about as explosive a situation as you can imagine for a man who hates blacks. But suddenly I felt a compassion for that black man! At one time, I would have hated him and probably would have been rude and angry with him. But God heard my prayer."
That same evening a young black couple approached me in the lobby of the Arrowhead Springs hotel. They were radiant.
"Something wonderful happened to me tonight," the young woman said. I was liberated from my hatred for the white man. I have hated whites since I was a little girl. I have known that as a Christian I should love white people, but I couldn't help myself. I hated whites and wanted to get revenge. Tonight I have begun to love whites by faith, and it really works."
The young man added, "It worked for me, too; now my hatred for whites is gone. Thank you for telling us how to love by faith."
Whites who have hated blacks and blacks who have hated whites have discovered God's supernatural love for each other. Christian husbands and wives who were living in conflict have claimed God's love by faith, and miracles have resulted. Parent-child struggles have been resolved and generation gaps have been bridged through loving by faith. Disputes in working situations have been resolved. Enemies cease to be enemies when you love them by faith. God's love has a way of dissolving prejudice and breaking down barriers.
The Greatest Power has Changed History
Love is the greatest power known to man. It changed the course of the first-century world, and God is using it to bring a great revolution in the twentieth century. Nothing can overcome God's love.
In the first century there was a wedding of love and faith resulting in a great spiritual revolution throughout the known world. Then both were lost during the Dark Ages. The realization of Martin Luther and his colleagues that the "just shall live by faith" ushered in the Reformation and another mighty movement of God's Spirit. But there was little love. In fact, there was often great conflict.
Today, God is bringing back to our remembrance the biblical wedding of the two -- faith and love. Through faith, that supernatural, divine love of God will reach out where nothing else can go to capture men and women for Christ. The love which results from that faith will captivate people everywhere so that, as we live and love by faith, we will spread God's love throughout the world. This love is contagious, attractive and aggressive. It creates hunger for God. It is active -- constantly looking for loving things to do, people to uplift, and lives to change.
Leonard is an example. The night he received Christ as his personal Savior, his heart was filled with love, and a great change came over him. Until then he had hated everyone and everything.
Often when he came home drunk at night, he would kick his dog to get him off the porch. In the process, the dog would bark, growl and try to bite him. Reeling and rocking under the influence of alcohol, Leonard would chase the dog around the table outside.
Soon his wife would get into the fray. They would curse each other and fight. Eventually, he would kick the dog off the porch, scattering chairs and flower pots in all directions.
"But the night I received Christ," he relates, "I was so filled with love I think even the dog sensed I was different. He raised himself on his belly and crawled toward me, then lay down on the same feet that had kicked him all the other nights."
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Love By Faith, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.
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