Avoid the many faces of being loveless


I encourage you to avoid the many faces of being loveless

Just as love has a myriad of ways in which to express itself; so it is with the opposite, a loveless heart cannot hide for long. It may be able to masquerade for a while, but sooner or later it’ll show its true nature.

Avoid the many faces of being loveless

The heart is an extraordinary complex arena for battles between affections. However, in between love and hate exists many layers of affections which can easily become distorted? Sadly, with the heart’s deceptive nature (Jer 17:9) comes the ability for lovelessness to infiltrate emotions, values, actions and responses with such subtlety that it can be difficult to distinguish.

Measure the heart

A good measuring stick is to monitor the default reactions you have to things. That initial and spontaneous response within when anything happens, or news of another is heard, that’s the tell-tale of what truly lives within. Jesus rightly pulled the Pharisees up; “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). The tongue always betrays the heart.

It’s just as Jesus taught the disciples; “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:20-23). Our behaviour will always portray love, neutrality, or lovelessness. Indeed, our responses tell the world what lives within us.

The greatest of all

The apostle Paul explained the significance of ‘agape’ love this way; “So now faith, hope, and love abide, …but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13). For the Christian, love cannot be over stated; it is the most accurate expression of God “because God is love” (1 John 4:8). By nature, faith and hope exist within and benefit their possessor, but love always benefits others. Love requires an “other” as its target; it can’t exist within itself, therefore love is the greatest gift given to us by God.

Often the world legitimizes loveless behaviour; society’s norm has shifted to a self-oriented affection that accommodates others as long as it suits self. Sooner or later, if left unchecked, self will demand the place of first priority, and others must oblige. From minor skirmishes to major upheavals, self will portray itself as the all-important one, with all else to be sacrificed in the pursuit of personal happiness.

So, if a God gifted love which is self-sacrificing is not present, if it’s not welling up from within, then the void will be accommodated by lovelessness which is neither neutral nor dormant.

The simplicity of faith

Scripture’s remedy is simple enough. First, ensure you have the love of God within you by the indwelling of God’s Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour (2Co 13:5; Rom 5:5; Eph 1:13). Secondly; “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Philippians 4:8).

Today, I encourage you to make your mind active with the loving thoughts Paul speaks of in Philippians 4:8; your face will show it, the tone of your voice will resonate it, your body language will move with it, and your responses will echo it. Lovelessness will progressively be squeezed out as you increasingly die to self and live Christ, putting “on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:10).

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong                    www.bbf.net.nz

Avoid the many faces of being loveless

Avoid the many faces of being loveless

Be loveable for Christ’s sake

I encourage you to be loveable for Christ’s sake

We don’t think of it often, yet being loveable is a much needed quality in the Christian life. We all enjoy being loved, however we equally need to express love. Still, it remains a peculiar characteristic of the human heart in that we often do not make it easy for others to love us.

Be loveable for Christ’s sake

The world often distorts and misrepresents love by promoting physical beauty and sexual allurement as the main component of being loveable, how wrong they are. An equally bizarre twist of humanity is that those who need love the most are often those who reject the people who can best give the love they need.

Imitators of a better love

But not so for Christians. As believers we are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2). God is so lovable because He is so very loving! And the zenith of His love is seen and experienced through the giving of His Son Jesus Christ to be sacrificed in the place of sinful man.

Therefore, as God’s children, we too should be easy to love as we love others Gods way. Just as love is an intrinsic part of God’s nature and language, so selfless love is an inherited and spontaneous part of the Christian’s life. Qualities that best express God’s love are the best qualities for attracting love. By loving others the way God loves, we make it easier for others to reciprocate with love.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 is possibly the best known Bible passage detailing love’s character. Yet how often do we examine ourselves with a humble and honest attitude with a willingness to change for Christ’s sake. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (NIV). Emulating God’s love affirms His good, while simultaneously rejecting the useless and bad which cause such great pain in our lives?

Love or Self

I draw your attention to the phrase in 1 Corinthians 13:5; love “is not self-seeking” (NIV), or, love “does not insist on its own way” (ESV). This love is God’s antidote to the destruction caused by selfishness and self-righteousness. It’s also the heart of the gospel, and is one of the many qualities which make the Lord so loveable. When we are characterised by demanding to have our own way, others are repelled and our hearts swell with indignation that refuses to be humbled.

The point is this, the name of God and the reputation of the Church hinges on how others perceive God’s love in us, or not. If we don’t love well, we don’t make it easy for others to love us. At salvation, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). Therefore, God has equipped us for the mission, and enabled us to do that which does not come natural.

I encourage you as followers of the Lord Jesus; “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Therefore, yield to His controlling influence. Christ will be glorified, others will be sweetly blessed, and you will be assured of your security in Christ.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong                    www.bbf.net.nz

Be loveable for Christ’s sake

Be loveable for Christ’s sake

Recognise God’s love is different from worldly lust

I encourage you to recognise God’s love is different from worldly lust

We live in a world that confuses lust with love at almost every level. Impulse seems to trigger behaviour more often than right motive or wisdom. Desire is openly permitted to run head-long unchallenged and without examination or accountability. Consequently, society gives evidence to the social and family decline caused by the absence of love that elevates truth to the top of its priorities.

God’s love is different from worldly lust

The point is this; it’s remarkably easy to wrongly evaluate God’s love by the world’s deficient standards, concluding that His love falls short of our self-centred expectations. Once we understand that with God lust only gets His negative attention, pride and ego are not on His ‘cool’ list, plus our prejudices and personal preferences fail to appear on His importance schedule, we naturally begin developing animosity towards God. So, for many, this is how sin grows within them; always working against God and leading it’s volunteers away for the Lord.

Culture and selfishness

For the average person in our culture, when they think of the Lord Jesus Christ, the instinctive question that dominates their thinking is; “What can God do for me?” Secondly, their self-defence mechanism kicks in quickly by asking; “What pleasures will I be required to give up?”

Fortunately, as God has engaged with humanity throughout history, one of His consistent operating principles has been “where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).

Therefore it shouldn’t surprize us when we read in God’s Word, that a Christian should “not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

In fact, the genuine believer has chosen to be captivated by passions this world fails to understand. “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

A great exchange

Oh, how simple life would be, and how powerful the Church’s testimonies, if every professing Christian lived like this! Fleshly lust would be exchanged for Christ exalting love. Believers would joyfully take ownership of their place in this world to “proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). Compelled by the selfless love of Jesus Christ, we would be inspired to speak well of “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” Because “according to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

Today, be encouraged to recognise that God’s love is vastly different to worldly lust. Turn to Christ with all your heart’s affections in surrender and a faith that dies to self and lives to Christ.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong                    www.bbf.net.nz

Recognise God’s love is different from worldly lust

Recognise God’s love is different from worldly lust

Trusting God with the impossible

I encourage you to be trusting of God with the impossible

For every believer there are times and circumstances which demand a trusting of God with things that seem impossible to us. History is replete with occasions when God’s people looked to the Lord for things which man is incapable of resolving, and God answered according to His will and always for His glory.

Trusting God with the impossible

Sooner or later, most of us become embroiled in circumstances which seem so far outside of our control that we despair. Often, it’s in these times that the old serpent tells us that there is no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel; ‘you’re wasting your time and you might as well just give up’ he mutters. But remember; “what is impossible with men is possible with God” (Luke 18:27). We Christians surrender our fears, doubts and suspicions to the Lord “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).

An example of trusting faith

Joseph realised that the many years of severe suffering that resulted from his brother’s spiteful treatment of him actually was intended and used by God for His purposes. Towards the end of the saga, Joseph explained to his brothers that although “you meant evil against me, God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20). The Lord has a rich history of using the most extraordinary circumstances for His good. Sometimes we get to see and understand the details of His plans and sometimes not. Yet His sovereign will is undeniable and unstoppable in spite of our inability to perceive His providential workings.

As mortals, we struggle to grasp the enormity of God’s power and the infinite nature of His being and mind. Consequently we rob ourselves of the options of trusting in the Lord. This is precisely where faith steps up and grants us access to a realm of interactions with God that the world denies. Faith ignites trust in the God of infinite resources, opening our eyes to unlimited possibilities that are readily available and only at God’s disposal.

Trusting submission

Trusting, dependent, and submissive faith looks to the Lord as “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20).  Faith activates patience as God works out His will in and around us. It enables the child of God to “be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalms 46:10). Faith looks for answers and results that exalt God more than simply giving us relief from discomfort.

It is this faith that enabled David to sing of the Lord; “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!” (Psalms 40:3-4).

Today my friend, I encourage you to stop yourself thinking like the world thinks towards God. Rather, be trusting of our loving and gracious Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ. Yield to Him and He will lift you up for His pleasure, His glory, and your blessing.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong                    www.bbf.net.nz

Trusting God with the impossible

Trusting God with the impossible

Be trustworthy for Christ’s sake

I encourage you to be trustworthy for Christ’s sake

To be considered trustworthy is a valuable quality which finds favour with both people and God. It’s true that at some point, and to varying degrees, most of us have done things which would disqualify us from the halls of trustworthiness fame. However, it’s equally true that by God’s grace this status can be reversed.

Be trustworthy for Christ’s sake

When calling Israel to repent of her sin by exchanging corruption for righteous living, the Lord invited them to consider His ability and willingness to transform them. “Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18). Herein lies humanity’s only hope; God’s ability to wash away sin through forgiveness and to cleanse repeat sinners. Repentance should always be our initial response to God’s invitation for transformation; this begins with rationale thinking that aligns itself with God’s thinking.

When we think of God, we are to recognise “the works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy” (Psalms 111:7). He is utterly dependable, totally reliable, and consistent in all his thinking, values and actions. In fact, the Lord is incapable of being anything less than holy and trustworthy. Likewise, “the law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple” (Psalms 19:7 NIV). God’s Word expresses His perfections and His gracious salvation which brings spiritual regeneration for the reader who surrenders to Him. This is true wisdom; inviting God’s restoration through faith in His Son Jesus Christ.

Surrendered reality

However, reality teaches us that in spite of our best intentions, we won’t get obedience right all the time. Sadly, some of us will fail the Lord and others terribly. It’s this inner struggle with sin that Paul confessed; “when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:21-23). Paul was a realist, knowing the battle that follows a life that has turned from self and sin to being under the cleansing and lordship of Jesus Christ.

Paul also recognised his life of service for the Church as an entrusted responsibility from the Lord. As such, Paul reminds us that “it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Corinthians 4:2).  Even though we are terribly inconsistent, the Lord’s grace upholds the relationship He has with us. Even in times when “we are faithless, he remains faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).  The Lord’s faithfulness convinces us of His trustworthiness, and His trustworthiness inspires our enduring loyalty and devotion to Him. So, in times of personal disappointment, we focus on Christ by repeatedly turning from failure in preference of loving obedience.

Today, I encourage you to persevere in faithful service for Jesus Christ. Don’t allow the difficulties and struggles of life to deter you from a trustworthy life for Christ. Do not allow critics to slow you down in the race of Christian living. Run for Christ, the finish line of eternal life will materialise His reward soon enough. Your trustworthiness will honour the Lord and encourage others in God’s faithfulness to them and His worthiness of their faith in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Together for Christ:  Lincoln Forlong                    www.bbf.net.nz

Be trustworthy for Christ’s sake

Be trustworthy for Christ’s sake