“The fruit of the Spirit is faithfulness...” Galatians 5:22b
Faithfulness flows from the fruit of the Spirit’s vine with divine fidelity. It is the ability to stay the course in a crisis or to correct a corrupt circumstance. Faithfulness is a personal resolve to stay committed in marriage through “sickness and health, richer and poorer and to death do us part.” Faithfulness feels a compelling call from Christ to stay put in a career, especially when it’s not easy, knowing perseverance leads to righteous rewards.
Are you at the crossroads of a commitment? Will you remain faithful, even though it is unfair and hard? It is easier to follow Jesus when He heals and forgives. It is harder to be a dedicated disciple when you are persecuted for your faith and demeaned for doing good. However, because Christ remained faithful to the Cross, on the Cross and after the Cross, you remain faithful to bear your cross for Christ. Faithfulness finds faithfulness by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
“What if some were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?” Romans 3:3
Moreover, make sure to keep your eyes on Jesus, not on the unfaithfulness of others. People will let you down; so do not place them on a pedestal. A friend’s unfaithfulness, even betrayal is your opportunity to remain faithful, as you lean into the Lord’s faithfulness. Scared friends may scatter and an insecure family member may gossip, but you still model loyalty to those you love. Love is faithful in the face of unfaithfulness.
Furthermore, you can rely on the faithfulness of your heavenly Father. He is faithful when you are not faithful. He is faithful to give you courage when you face fearful situations. He is faithful to give abundant grace in your time of great need. He is faithful to give you wisdom for the best decision. He extends you mercy, so you can be merciful. The Lord’s faithfulness facilitates your faithfulness. So, stay faithful to Him and them!
“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” Psalm 86:11
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your faithfulness to me. Keep me faithful in the face of unfaithfulness.
“The fruit of the Spirit is goodness...” Galatians 5:22b
The Holy Spirit’s fruit of goodness flows from the heart of God. It is pure in its essence and it is sure in its application for good. Good is to God what bad is to evil—a reflection of its origin. Goodness is the expression of moral excellence found in any man or woman surrendered to the Spirit’s control. It is virtue that bubbles up from a deep seated belief that outside of Christ there is no good thing. His goodness reveals His glory to the world.
To say he or she is a good man or woman does not do justice to the depth of the fruit of goodness. It puts too much emphasis on the human element in being good. Goodness comes from God to do good for God. We are only good to the extent that our goodness is initiated by Christ and sustained by the Spirit. At salvation God’s goodness floods our soul like a warm bath cleanses a dirty body—our soiled soul is washed clean. Goodness takes permanent residence when the Lord Jesus is the Landlord of our life. He’s all good!
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3
So, what does it mean to have a good heart? It is a heart governed by God. A good heart is more than following a set of principles—additionally it recognizes the Lord is the moral authority over what is defined as good. For example, we can feel good about someone, but if their morals or ethics violate Christ’s code of conduct, theirs is not a good life to emulate. Goodness is not defined by what we feel, but by what God says is good.
God has made you good in Christ to be a humble but bold standard bearer of goodness. Good and decent followers of Jesus have a moral obligation to obey God and thus be a force for good in a morally decaying culture. Goodness defines you as more than a do gooder—it marks you as being a slave to your Master Jesus. Your goodness gives you the influence to change the culture. God is calling you to be an agent of change for His glory!
“With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.” 2 Thessalonians 1:11
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your goodness and mercy that follow me all the days of my life.
“The fruit of the Spirit is kindness...” Galatians 5:22a
For the Christian kindness comes from the Holy Spirit’s inner work of compassion that expresses itself in outward deeds. Random acts of kindness are divine encounters wrought to illustrate the kindness of God. Kindness is more than being nice; it is discerning another’s point of pain, and with Spirit led sensitivity, brings them relief. A kind action may come in the form of a gift, a word of wisdom, a verbal prayer, an introduction or an affirmation.
Because of God’s great kindness He gave His son Jesus to save sinners and to grow saints. And for all who believe, He grants a seat to sit at His table as an adopted child of God. Yes, we are sons and daughters of the most High! What a privilege to have access to our heavenly Father’s vast resources of grace, wisdom, love, forgiveness and holiness. His kindness leads us to repentance, guides us in character growth and graduates us to heaven.
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:4-5
Have you been wronged? If so, consider an act of kindness in response. Extend gentleness in the face of harshness. Give authentic affirmation to someone weighted down by disappointment. Ask how your server is doing and leave them a generous gratuity. Validate your friend’s feelings without prescribing solutions. Open your home to those who need a safe and secure environment. Kindness comes from feeling accepted. Not everyone will affirm your kindness; some will use you—so react kindly to the unkind.
Be kind to your spouse who may be in the middle of an emotional melt down. Be kind to your child who made a foolish decision. Be kind to those whose political views are opposite of yours. Be kind to a work associate who is not pulling his or her weight. Be kind to the unkind, the handicapped, the elderly, the uneducated and the immigrant. Kindness heals and gives hope. Most of all, your kindness is an invitation to the kindness of God!
“The king asked, “Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?” Ziba answered the king, “There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.” 2 Samuel 9:3
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your loving kindness toward me and use the Spirit’s kindness in my heart to bring people to You.
"The fruit of the Spirit is forbearance..." Galatians 5:22a
The Spirit's fruit of forbearance is much more than patience. It is choosing not to retaliate when wronged. It's extending terms to benefit another, instead of demanding a justifiable immediate payment. Forbearance is the long suffering the Lord has towards sinners who need Him. He knows that time away from Him eventually loses its luster and appeal.
By faith we are able to model God's great patience towards those who anger us, who deeply disappoint us. The Holy Spirit fills us with the fruit of forbearance so He can lengthen the fuse of our temper. The longer it takes for our temper to smolder under self-control, the more time we have to cool down. The Spirit's forbearance releases our vengeance to the Lord.
"Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance." Romans 2:4
Do you thank the Lord for His kindness, forbearance and patience toward your ignorant indiscretions and your intentionally unwise acts? Are you taking for granted God's great grace? Eventually His patience does run out on those who run away from Him. There comes a time when secret sins come to roost on God's righteous roof. So, come clean and learn how to walk wisely in this season of forbearance from your heavenly Father.
Lastly, do not buckle in unbelief under the pressures that threaten to crush your spirit. Christ has given you a deep reservoir of forbearance to bear these burdens. There is not a drought of God's grace during hot summers of suffering. Critics will come and go. And hard circumstances are meant to soften your heart to grow a harvest for Christ. The fruit of forbearance in your life waters seeds in other searching souls. Thus, be a faithful forbearer of faith!
"But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life." 1 Timothy 1:16
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for Your loving forbearance toward me; fill me with Your great patience toward others.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is peace…” Galatians 5:22a
Peace is an intuitive fruit of the Spirit. There is an inner sense that Christ is in control, even when external circumstances swirl with uncertainty. It is a calm that only the Spirit can create. Furthermore, a lack of peace protects from moving forward too fast or at all. It is a check and balance to impulsive emotional commitments and/or impetuous mental assent. Peace produced by the Spirit is not subject to shifting situations, but leads one to a stable Savior.
Spirit-filled peace leads us to become peacemakers, not just peacekeepers. We take the initiative to bring together two friends who may be in conflict, reminding them of the traits they admire in each other. We help to bring harmony where hurt has been inflicted. Once we have peace with God, others, and ourselves, we can create a safe environment of acceptance for those in turmoil. Peacemakers who sow peace reap righteous results.
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” James 3:18
If you are without peace of mind meditate on the mind of Christ. His thoughts remind you of the big picture and the vision the Lord has for your life. He gives humility, wisdom and forgiveness to recalibrate conflicted relationships. Jesus takes the fear out of finances and replaces it with the assurance of His provision. Peace replaces worry. It stops fighting against and begins praying for a friend or enemy. Spirit-filled peace sustains a long life.
Above all, peace is found in resting in a right relationship with the Almighty. The fruit of peace with God is an immense harvest. Chaos is replaced with calm. Trust and tranquility triumph over anxiety and striving. Your guilt is gone—your purpose and passion remain. You serve a risen Savior who breathes peace into your lungs of faith. It may feel that He is asleep in your current storm, but He will awake to comfort you. Peace with God brings the peace of God. Finally, be a peacemaker whose peace rests in your Maker. Shalom!
"Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." John 14:27, NKJV
Prayer: Heavenly Father, may I be a peacemaker whose peace rests in my Maker.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love…” Galatians 5:22a
Love leads the list of nine character traits that constitute the fruit of the Spirit. Love, the greatest commandment—is God’s gold medal for His children who run the race of faith. This authentic affection for the Lord and people sets the tone for the following eight character traits. Love is foundational, because it keeps motives pure and it builds trust that delivers truth. Like a loving mom, love looks for ways to give care and comfort.
Love gets behind enemy lines with the determination of a Navy Seal. It is the tip of a sharp arrow that slices into the hardest of hearts. Delicious love is an appetizer and entrée we can offer to hungry souls. It is attractive to acquaintances and it retains friends. We love when we initiate interest, refrain from retaliation, give grace and take responsibility. Love listens, gives, helps, forgives, perseveres, serves and sacrifices. Love is a verb.
“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14
Your love ties together all other virtues with its eternal elasticity. It doesn’t divide, it unifies. It doesn’t take, it gives. It is not selfish, it is selfless. However, it is the Holy Spirit that dresses you each day in the garment of God’s love. You are not capable to love beyond human effort without strength from the Spirit. He is the source of your power to love like Christ: you love your enemies, embrace your critics and forgive all who hurt.
How do you know if you are growing the fruit of love in your life? You begin to know and understand details important to your spouse, children and friends. Prayer needs, birthdays, anniversaries, interests, pain points and joy factors all arouse your memory when you are around those in your circle of influence. Your love may courageously ask for help on behalf of another who finds himself in a desperate situation. Love is action.
Furthermore, undeserved love may be the highest level of love. You love an addict even though their capacity to love is numbed and they only have pain to give back. You love a proud person, so they see a model of humility that reminds them of Jesus. You love someone who does not love you, because your heavenly Father did this for you, before you fell in love with Jesus. Your Spirit filled fruit of love shares the gospel and your life.
“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-8
Prayer: Heavenly Father, who needs my listening ear, my tender touch or my time and trust?
Whether it's growing up with 18 brothers and sisters or journeying through her father's cancer diagnosis, Karyn Williams has stories to tell through her music. And that's just what she does on her debut release, Only You. Karyn recently talked with us about her music, the importance of family, and what God is teaching her now.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. When did you begin to pursue music full time?
From a young age, I knew that I wanted to surround myself with music; it's the only thing that has ever really made sense to me. Growing up, my dad spoke in churches a lot and my mom would travel with him and sing. One night when I was about three years old, I begged my mom to get up and sing with her. She reluctantly agreed thinking I would probably hide behind her skirt the whole time, but when the music started, apparently I grabbed the microphone and took over the song. She sat down on the pew in the front row (laughing of course) and watched me finish! I was hooked and music became my thing.
In the summer of 2007, I felt the Lord tugging at my heart to move to Nashville and pursue a ministry in music. I was absolutely terrified, but I packed my car, said goodbye to my family in Orlando where I grew up, stepped out on faith and made the move. It was the scariest experience of my life, but it was also the time when Philippians 4:7 came to life for me. Even though I cried the entire way to Nashville, I also had a peace that I couldn't understand or explain. I didn't know anyone or anything other than the fact that if the Lord was leading this journey, I knew I was in good hands.
I made a promise to the Lord on the drive that day that I would walk through every door He opened, as long as I felt it was from Him. I have kept that promise and the doors He has opened led to signing a record deal at Inpop Records in 2011, paving the way for me to release my first full-length album.
From the minute I walked in to Inpop, it felt like a big family hug and I'm beyond thankful to have such a great team of people around me who have true hearts for putting out music that will encourage people in their walk with the Lord! I'm so excited to have put together a collection of songs for this record, Only You that speak truth about the hope of Jesus; that's really the only thing that matters to me. The Lord has used music as a powerful tool in my own life to draw me close to Him, and my prayer is that these songs will do the same for other people.
What do you hope people come away with after listening to your songs?
As I have traveled and shared music over the last few years, there is one thing that has become very real for me: people are hurting. Sometimes in a very big way and sometimes in ways they don't show. There is something we are all carrying around or walking through every day of our lives that is difficult, unfair, or something we don't understand. We have gotten very good at putting smiles on our faces, walking out the front door and going about our day when sometimes we're dying inside.
If there's one thing I want people to take away from these songs, it is hope. Real hope! We as humans can do without a lot of things in our lives, but hope is not one of them. Many of the songs on Only You were born out of a very personal (sometimes painful) place, so the journey of writing for this record has been very healing for me. I believe the Lord has allowed experiences in my own life over the last few years so that I can share this music in a way that encourages someone else walking through the same thing. Sometimes all we need is someone to put their arm around our shoulder and say, "Hey, I know you're in pain right now. I've been there, and you're gonna make it through." Music has a way of healing and encouraging in a way that sometimes nothing else can.
For me, being a Christian artist is the biggest honor in the world and it is even bigger than just the songs on this record. Ultimately it is about helping people connect to God in a deeper way and trying to provide real hope for real people living in the real world. The only thing that matters to me is that I spread hope and encouragement everywhere I go and the fact that the Lord has allowed me to do that through music…well that's the ultimate dream come true!
Your first single, "Rest in the Hope" was born out of your dad's cancer diagnosis. How has God used this song since its release to radio?
As songwriters sometimes we have to go searching for great song ideas, and then sometimes they fall in our lap. "Rest In The Hope" was a song that fell in my lap, but not in a way I ever expected or wanted.
On February 4th, 2011, my dad called me with news that would change both of our lives forever. He shared with me that he had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Multiple Myeloma, a blood & bone marrow cancer that was "incurable" and there was "no surgery" that could be done. I was devastated. I mean devastated. My dad has always been my rock, my hero, and then somewhere along the way to adulthood, he and I became great friends. We've done 7 marathons with each other, wrote a book together; he's just my favorite guy in the world. So this cancer news rocked me to my core and I walked around for many weeks in a complete fog trying to understand it and figure it out.
I had a lot of questions for God, most of which started with the word "Why?" Those first weeks and months were extremely tough: lots of treatments, countless doctors appointments and lots of tears and uncertainty.
After a few weeks, I remember collapsing on my bed in tears and asking my husband, "Am I ever going to feel normal again?" It was in that moment that I realized I was exhausted trying to figure it all out and I had to lay this down and allow God to be the One in control of this situation. When we don't understand something, our human nature is to wrestle it to the ground and try and figure out what God's doing in our lives. The truth is, we won't always understand, and His ways aren't our ways so we have to trust and rest knowing that He is still in control, no matter what we're walking through.
Not long after my dad’s diagnosis, he said, “I thought I was close to the Lord before, but now I feel like I’m sitting on his lap hugging Him around the neck.” I thought that was such a beautiful picture of resting in the arms of Jesus and that is really the statement for how "Rest In The Hope" was born. When I realized this would be my first radio single to the world, I was overwhelmed.
This song is personal for me in a way that’s hard to explain after walking through my dad’s illness. It is a song of comfort and hope, and my prayer is that whoever hears it will realize that the Lord is right there in the middle of whatever they’re going through. He knows right where you are and is walking with you every step of the way. We have a hope beyond measure and we really can rest knowing that He we belong to Him.
Rest In Hope
How have you and your family learned to "Rest in the Hope" since your dad's diagnosis?
Well, cancer will definitely teach you to rely on the Lord in new ways! I will never ever forget the devastation of learning that news. It has given me a new understanding and a new respect for what people go through when someone close to them is diagnosed with cancer. Everything stops.
Although I cried every day for weeks, I finally made the decision to lay it all down. I had no other choice. God is still God even in the middle of circumstances we don't understand. Cancer or any other difficult situations in our lives is not God punishing us; it is simply something He's allowing us to walk through as a chance to mold us, grow us and help us learn to rely completely on Him.
I can remember the moment when I finally said, "Ok Lord, I may never understand this…but I'm not going to question it." We tend to only thing that we are "blessed" when things are going well in our lives. But I believe the Lord allows us to be in different situations in order to share His name. Sometimes we don't like those situations, but ultimately, the only thing that matters during our time on earth is that we shared Jesus with everyone we came in contact with. Whether that's done from a hospital bed or a pulpit – we all have a ministry to share right where we are.
And how is your dad doing now?
He is in remission! Praise the Lord!!! At his age (71 when diagnosed) getting his cancer in remission was going to be a challenge. He has always been a health nut and has always taken extremely good care of his body. He used to say, "I'm getting in shape for old age." Now he says, "I didn't realize it, but I was getting in shape for cancer." It was an extremely grueling process of treatment, but because of his good health at the time of diagnosis, he did a lot better than the doctors expected! It's a good lesson for all of us - skip the pizza and eat greens, and tomorrow morning, hit the gym instead of the donuts!
Adoption is a central part of your family's story. How has adoption impacted you?
I was four years old when my parents started adopted children, so I don't remember much before my brothers and sisters from different nations started joining our family. I have siblings from Romania, South Korea, Brazil and the Philippines and I wouldn't trade it for the world. My unique upbringing has definitely shaped me into the woman I am today; you learn a lot as the big sister in a family of 19 kids!
My parents did a great job of keeping things running smoothly and stressing the importance of responsibility at a young age, so we all had morning and evening jobs that were age appropriate as we grew and matured. We were all very involved in sports, art, dance, cheerleading or whatever it was we were passionate about. If you came into our house on any given afternoon you'd find us outside playing basketball, swimming, sitting in the library reading a book or out back playing a family game of whatever we could come up with. Hanging around playing video games or staring at the TV was NOT an option! My mom ran a pretty tight ship; my dad used to joke that she wore sergeant stripes on her pajamas!
When I was 12 years old, I traveled with my mom to Romania to bring home one of my little sisters, Gabriela (Gabi). I saw the orphanage where Gabi had spent the first five years of her life, and in an instant, my perspective changed. We have so much that we take for granted here in America, and seeing those conditions as a pre-teen really impacted me. All I've ever known is brothers and sisters who didn't look like me, but I have learned that if we put the color of our skin aside and get past our language barriers, we all have one thing in common and that is our universal need for God. No matter what side of the world you are from, God created us all with a void in our hearts that only He can fill.
I am so thankful for everything instilled in me because of the diversity of my family. Growing up with so many people around, I learned quickly how to get along with different personalities and how to look past the color of someone's skin. I've seen what it means to give of yourself, and how to work together as a team. I also learned pretty quickly that life didn't revolve around me! There were a lot of kids to worry about, so we all had to pitch in, help where we could and we learned pretty quickly how to be self-sufficient.
Watching my parents taught me what it means to open your heart to someone in need and I've seen firsthand the rewards that God has waiting for us when we do. My dad used to say, "I have 19 children, 14 of which are adopted but I forget which 14." I always loved hearing him say that because he never saw any difference in my biological siblings and adopted siblings.
Because of his example, we all followed suite. From the minute a new child joined our family, we were so excited and tried our best to welcome them into the fold. As a longtime NBA Executive, my dad could have done a lot of things with what he and my mom were blessed with. But instead of building a bigger kingdom for themselves or going on more expensive vacations, they chose to invest in the lives of children in need. We are all adopted into the family of Christ and in some small way, I think what my parents did is a beautiful picture of the way God opens His arms to us and welcomes us into to His family.
What has God been teaching you lately?
The biggest thing the Lord has taught me this past year is to rely completely on Him. We read about it in Scripture and hear it preached in sermons all the time, but learning how to effectively do that is hard sometimes. As humans, our nature is to control things and many times we think we are in control. But these last few months for me between my dad's cancer diagnosis, walking through the process of making a record and so many other personal things in my life, the Lord has really helped me understand what it means to rely on Him in new ways. He is in the One driving my life and I have found it works a lot better that way!
The Scripture that I have made my life verse is Galatians 1:10, "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?" Decisions are easier with that mindset. We get so wrapped up and stressed in the busyness of our lives, and sometimes we forget that there's really only one thing we were put here to do and that's honor the Lord in everything we do and tell everyone we can about His love. The title track for this record, "Only You" was born out of that verse and the experience of doing this record has brought me to a place of knowing who my complete dependence is on.
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“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:24-25
The Holy Spirit fuels spiritual living. This is where freedom resides and where fruit bearing takes place. The flesh is pre-conversion to Christ living; it is reliance on self to secure security. The Spirit is post-conversion to Christ living; it is reliance on God to secure earthly and eternal security. The Spirit and the flesh conflict, but the flesh has been put to death by faith and the Spirit has come alive. Spiritual living submits to Christ.
Spiritual living thrives as we daily surrender our soul to Jesus. The way we became a Christian—by grace through faith—is the same way we continue as a Christian. Yet, the flesh tries to flaunt its old habits as teasers for us to not trust God. But we know better—it’s better not to boast in the flesh, but to be humbled by the Spirit. When we walk in the Spirit we are empowered to bear the fruit of the Spirit.
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:16-17
The Spirit brings wisdom, when we consider ways that are unwise. The Spirit brings conviction, when we begin to drift from our convictions. The Spirit brings comfort, when we struggle with discomfort. The Spirit leads us into God’s will, when we are tempted to follow our own will. The Holy Spirit is heaven’s secret to spiritual living. When we walk by the Spirit we are everything, but if we ignore the Spirit we are nothing.
Are you looking to love better, rejoice more and be at peace? If so, allow the Spirit to grow love, joy and peace in the soil of your soul. God is your Gardener, whose green thumb of grace always grows an abundance of fruit. Forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control are all seeded by the Holy Spirit to produce the Lord’s luscious fruit that remains. Fertilize with faith and then water with God’s Word.
Invite the Holy Spirit to pull out any weeds of sin from your heart. And like a kudzu plant climbs, coils and covers in a hot and humid climate, the fruit of the Spirit covers your life in Christ-like character. Your part is faith and His part is fruit. Your part is surrender and His part is victory. Your part is prayer and His part is answers. Your part is humility and His part is a harvest of righteousness. Spiritual living lives by the Spirit’s power.
“You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.” Romans 8:9
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I surrender to Your Spirit’s empowering me to spiritual living.
"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." 1 Timothy 6:10
The Church of Jesus Christ has the opportunity and obligation to serve the injustices of society in Jesus’ name. Protecting the life of the unborn and elderly, providing for widows and orphans, caring for the sick and dying, and visiting those in jail or prison allows the church to engage in the culture. Compassion is not just a feeling, but a meaningful effort to get involved. A secular society needs a Savior to save its soul of injustice.
Who is the church? It is both an institution and the individual believers who make up the Body of Christ. We are responsible corporately and personally to serve society with good deeds and with the good news of salvation in Jesus. Words without works is dead faith, and works without words is ashamed faith. Thus, the Body of Christ is light and life for a dark and dying society.
"Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." 1 Timothy 5:8
So, where does the family of faith first show it cares? You start by providing for your family: your household and your relatives. It may be transportation to get them to work, a prayer over the phone, a rent payment, groceries, or sponsoring their attendance at an intensive marriage retreat. Families who follow Jesus are a compelling force for good in the culture.
Secondly, the Body of Christ is to care for its own. There is a spiritual kinship that benefits those who serve the King of Kings. Who do you know in your church whose tears silently cry out for care? Who is too embarrassed to ask for financial help, but your anonymous generosity would be a tourniquet to their bleeding budget? The wounds of social injustice are a wake up call for aggressive acts of kindness.
"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." Galatians 6:2
Lastly, the Church is called to engage the culture as a whole in social justice. Serving the poor and needy, defending the rights of the unborn, and upholding biblical marriage are right strategies for the righteous. The good news of Jesus goes to the heart for salvation, the mind for renewal, and the body for purification. Social justice for the Church is modeling Christ's actions of preaching, teaching, giving, feeding and clothing. We love children and honor the elderly. As the Church grows in its influence the need for government lessens. Where the Lord reigns above—justice rains down on society.
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27
“Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs” (Proverbs 10:12).
True love forgives, regardless of the infraction, because it transcends mistreatment. So, what is your process for forgiveness? Is it conditional, based on the way you are treated, or is it unconditional? Hatred has no hope but to stir up dissension and rally a defense. However, love looks at being wronged as an opportunity to replace insult with encouragement. Love seeks to lead all parties into a better place of health and happiness.
Indeed, hatred is not at home in a heart of love. It sows discord, while love plants peace. It embraces enmity, while love cuddles compassion. Hate stirs up, but love calms down. How do you handle those who are hard to be around? Perhaps out of love you serve them. Seek to serve, rather than be served.
“Through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13 NASB).
Furthermore, love forgives because you have been forgiven by the matchless love of God. It is the Lord’s love toward you that empowers you to lovingly forgive another. Human love alone is unable to love without boundaries. Left to our own limited love, we only love those who love us. Jesus said, “If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much” (Matthew 5:46 NLT).
Therefore, look at love as an opportunity to give others what they don’t deserve. Lean on the Lord as your source of unconditional love. Christ’s love is all-inclusive and all-forgiving. In the same way, actively and appropriately love those in your life; with a kind word, a nice note of appreciation, a thoughtful gift, or a listening ear. How do you harness love into a habit of forgiveness?
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8 NLT).
Prayer: Whom do I need to love, forgive, and serve in honor of God’s great love?