The Bare Soul - July 15, 2012
Love With Faith

Ephesians 6:23 - Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

It is often extraordinary regarding all the talk of love for God and others in our Westernized Christianity. However, the evidence is just as often lacking. We might sing, "Oh, how I love Jesus!" on Sunday mornings, yet do our actions testify of what we say with our mouths?  The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I understand the importance of my faith growing in direct proportion to my love for the Savior. I will state with complete confidence that it is impossible for one's love to deepen with Christ and not experience a growth in faith regarding what Jesus is able to do. If we don't recognize how God's love within us causes us to believe greater things are possible, then maybe the love we are experiencing is simply a sentimental head-knowledge of Christ's character within? For instance, if we are truly growing in love with Jesus, is our love deepening for those whom He loves? Are we going out of our way for others, working kindness in their lives for no other reason then we desire to do so because of Christ's love within? Or, are we spending time in prayer for those with health problems, or those who do not know Jesus, simply because we want to rather than feeling as we should out of obligation? Without faith growing in love, we should certainly reassess our relationship with our Savior and return to the place where our love can once again be renewed (Revelation 2:4-5).

The Apostle Paul understood the importance of love working with faith. In several instances he uses these two fruits of the Spirit in concert with one another (Galatians 5:22-23). However, Paul generally speaks of love as the root in which faith thrives (Ephesians 3:17). There is a good reason for this, as seen in Paul's letters and also from the Lord's words Himself. Throughout the Pauline epistles we see a theme of love for God and the brethren (the local churches) as one of the major focuses of instruction. Paul tells us the importance to allow faith, hope, and love to abide---but of greatest importance is love (I Corinthians 13:13). To his beloved Timothy the apostle writes: "But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (I Timothy 1:5). Paul understood how godly love from a pure heart could produce a good conscience and a sincere faith, but the impossibility of the opposite occurring. Purity and godly faith can only come through love for the Savior, otherwise faith will become self-inflated and defiled, seeking its own rather than building God's kingdom. Love will always safeguard the treasure within a man or woman of God because it will train its affection upon Christ's desires and not upon those of the flesh.

As mentioned, Jesus taught the principle of love before faith quite simply in His statement, "And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). From this relationship, we understand how faith and hope grow and mature. It would be superfluous for Jesus to say that in order to love more we must believe more. No, He said we must love more, then our faith would spring eternal from our passion for God. A wonderful example of how Jesus wants us to grow in love with faith is His lesson to His disciples when they asked the Lord, "Increase our Faith" (Luke 17:5). Jesus tells them in response how the size of faith is not important as long as it is pure. He tells them faith the size of a mustard seed will do just fine. However, how does one acquire this type of pure faith? He proceeds to tell them the importance of obedience in love in the following verses. In Luke 17:7-10 we see love perfected in obedience, which is the Lord's answer to His disciples regarding their desire for increased faith. True and pure faith devoid of selfishness is only possible through obedient love. And love of this sort only grows over time as we submit to the Lover of our souls. Through this great submission comes greater purification, causing our faith to begin to remove mountains where it once was only capable of removing spiritual debris from our lives.

Many men and women of God have been disqualified in large degrees regarding their ministries because they have sought faith without love for God. Unless obedient love is rooted and grounded in a believers life, seeking faith will only result in frustration. Those who move in great workings of faith may be somewhat successful for a season and may have the appearances of serving God. Yet, if they are not first submitted in love for the Savior, their kingdom will come crashing down. What shall we learn from these? It is imperative we know Christ and His love for us, and then faith will grow in a most supernatural way in our respective lives. We will possess the aroma of Christ (II Corinthians 2:14) rather than an aroma of ourselves. Many will stand before Christ on that day of reckoning and proclaim their love by their faith (Matthew 7:22). However, Christ will say He never knew them because they never allowed their faith to grow from a place of loving Him. However, those who first love Him and obey Him, these are the ones who will see their faith grow according to the will of God. May we all seek to know Christ in this way, obeying Him in love while our faith grows for His glory!

Heavenly Father, may we not seek great faith, but seek to greatly love You. With our desire to know You more intimately and passionately, cause our faith to grow proportionally to further Your Kingdom according to Your will and Your desire. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Your Barefoot Servant,

Rick

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