How You Can Love By Faith
The Greatest Power Ever Known
The addition of faith revolutionizes the power of love.
The beautiful ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Chicago was crowded to capacity with more than 1,300 college students and Campus Crusade staff members. I explained one of the most exciting spiritual discoveries that I had ever made — how to love by faith.
For years I had spoken on the subject of love. I had a simple 4-point outline:
- God loves you unconditionally.
- You are commanded to love others — God, your neighbors, your enemies.
- You are incapable of loving others in your own strength.
- You can love others with God’s love.
But, as in the case of most sermons on love, something was missing. Then some years ago, in an early hour of the morning, I was awakened from a deep sleep. I knew that God had something to say to me. I felt impressed to get up, open my Bible and kneel to read and pray. What I discovered during the next 2 hours has since enriched my life and the lives of tens of thousands of others. I had learned how to love.
With this discovery, God gave me the command to share this wonderful truth with Christians around the world. In that life-changing time of fellowship with the Lord, I was given a fifth point for my sermon on love — we love by faith.
Love is the greatest thing in the world — the greatest privilege and power known to man. Its emphasis in life and word changed the course of history as the first-century Christians demonstrated a quality of life never before witnessed on this earth. The Greeks, Romans, Gentiles, and Jews hated one another. The very idea of love and self-sacrifice was foreign to their thinking. When they observed Christians from many nations, with different languages and cultures, actually loving one another and sacrificing to help each other, they responded in amazement, “Behold, how these people love one another!”
I challenged the students at the conference to become part of a revolution of love. I suggested that they make a list of all the individuals they did not like and begin to love them by faith.
Early the next morning, a young woman with sparkling eyes and face aglow said to me, “My life was changed last night. For many years I have hated my parents. I haven’t seen them since I was 17, and now I am 22. I left home as a result of a quarrel 5 years ago and haven’t written or talked to them since, though they have tried repeatedly to encourage me to return home. I determined that I would never see them again. I hated them.
“Before becoming a Christian a few months ago,” she continued, “I had become a drug addict, a dope pusher and a prostitute. Last night you told me how to love my parents, and I could hardly wait to get out of that meeting and call them. Can you believe it? I now really love them with God’s kind of love and can hardly wait to see them.”
Everybody wants to be loved. Most psychologists agree that man’s greatest need is to love and be loved. No barrier can withstand the mighty force of love.
There are 3 Greek words translated into the one English word “love”; eros, which suggests sensual desire — it does not appear in the New Testament; phileo, which is used for friendship or love of one’s friends or relatives — it conveys a sense of loving someone because he is worthy of love; and agape, which is God’s love: the purest, deepest kind of love — it is expressed not through mere emotions but as an act of one’s will.
Agape is God’s supernatural, unconditional love for you revealed supremely through our Lord’s death on the cross for our sins. It is the supernatural love He wants to produce in you and through you to others, by His Holy Spirit. Agape love is given because of the character of the person loving rather than because of the worthiness of the object of that love. Sometimes it is love “in spite of” rather than “because of.”
God underscores the importance of this kind of love through the inspired pen of the apostle Paul, as recorded in 1 Corinthians 13. In this beautiful and remarkable passage of Scripture, Paul writes that, apart from love, anything that you might do for God or others is of no value. Consider these words:
If I had the gift of being able to speak in other languages without learning them, and could speak in every language there is in all of heaven and earth, but didn’t love others, I would only be making noise.
If I had the gift of prophecy and knew all about what is going to happen in the future, knew everything about everything, but didn’t love others, what good would it do? Even If I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, I would still be worth nothing at all without love.
If I gave everything I have to poor people, and if I were burned alive for preaching the Gospel but didn’t love others, it would be of no value whatever.
In other words, no matter what you do for God and for others, it is of no value unless you are motivated by God’s love.
5 Truths about Love – God Loves Unconditionally
Nothing changes God’s love for His children.
But what is agape? How does this kind of love express itself?
Paul gives us an excellent description:
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.
All the special gifts and powers from God will someday come to an end, but love goes on forever…
There are three things that remain — faith, hope, and love — and the greatest of these is love.
In the next chapter the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, admonishes: “Let love be your greatest aim.”
Let me share with you five vital truths about love that will help you understand the basis for loving by faith.
1. God Loves you Unconditionally
God loves with agape, the love described in 1 Corinthians 13. He loves you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for you, that you might have everlasting life. His love is not based on performance. Christ loves you so much that while you were yet a sinner, He died for you.
God’s love for you is unconditional and undeserved. He loves you in spite of your disobedience, your weakness, your sin and your selfishness. He loves you enough to provide a way to abundant, eternal life. From the cross Christ cried out, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” If God loved those who are sinners that much, can you imagine how much He loves you — His child through faith in Christ and who seeks to please Him?
Lessons in Love from the Prodigal Son
The parable of the prodigal son, as recorded in Luke 15, illustrates God’s unconditional love for His children. A man’s younger son asked his father for his share of the estate, packed his belongings, and took a trip to a distant land where he wasted all of his money on parties and prostitutes. About the time that his money was gone, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve. He finally came to his senses and realized that his father’s hired men at least had food to eat. He decided, “I will go to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired man.”
While he was still a long distance away, his father saw him coming and was filled with loving pity. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. I think that the reason he saw his son coming while he was still a long distance away was that he was praying for his son’s return and spent much time each day watching that lonely road on which his son would return.
Even as the son was making his confession, the father interrupted to instruct the servants to kill the fatted calf and prepare for a celebration — his lost son had repented; he had changed his mind and had returned to become part of the family again.
God demonstrated His love for us before we were Christians, but this story makes it obvious that God continues to love his child who has strayed far from Him. He eagerly awaits his return to the Christian family and fellowship.
Even when you are disobedient, he continues to love you, waiting for you to respond to His love and forgiveness. Paul writes:
Since by his blood he did all this for us as sinners, how much more will he do for us now that he has declared us not guilty? Now he will save us from all of God’s wrath to come. And since, when we were his enemies, we were brought back to God by the death of His Son, what blessings he must have for us now that we are his friends, and he is living within us!
God Disciplines the Ones He Loves
The love that God has for you is far beyond our human comprehension. Jesus prayed, “My prayer for all of them (the disciples and believers of all ages) is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as you and I are, Father…I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one — so that the world will know you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me.”
Think of it! God loves you as much as He loves His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus. What a staggering, overwhelming truth to comprehend! You need have no fear of someone who loves you perfectly. You need never be reluctant to trust God with your entire life for He truly loves you. And the almost unbelievable part of it is that He loves you even when you are disobedient.
Even on the human level, loving parents display such love. I loved my sons as much when they were disobedient as I did when they were good. For their sakes, because I do love them, I sometimes found it necessary to correct them. So it is in your relationship with God. When you are disobedient, He disciplines or corrects you because He loves you.
Hebrews 12 teaches about the love that motivates God’s discipline:
Have you quite forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you, his child? He said, “My son, don’t be angry when the Lord punishes you. Don’t be discouraged when he has to show you where you are wrong. For when he punishes you, it proves that he loves you…Let God train you, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. Whoever heard of a son who was never corrected?
Since we respect our fathers here on earth, though they punish us, should we not all the more cheerfully submit to God’s training so that we can begin to really live?
Our earthly fathers trained us for a few brief years, doing the best for us that they knew how, but God’s correction is always right and for our best good, that we may share his holiness. Being punished isn’t enjoyable while it is happening — it hurts! But afterwards we can see the result, a quiet growth in grace and character.
Christ’s death on the cross has once and for all satisfied the wrath and justice of God for the believer’s sin. God chastens and disciplines you to help you grow and mature spiritually.
God’s Love Reaches Beyond Circumstances
The early Christians endured persecution, hardships and unbelievable suffering. Yet Paul wrote to them:
Who then can ever keep Christ’s love from us? When we have trouble or calamity, when we are hunted down or destroyed, is it because He doesn’t love us anymore? And if we are hungry, or penniless, or in danger, or threatened with death, has God deserted us? No, for the Scriptures tell us that for his sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day — we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; but despite all this overwhelming victory is ours though Christ who loved us enough to die for us.
For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can’t, and life can’t. The angels won’t, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep Gods’ love away. Our fears for today, or worries about tomorrow or where we are — high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean — nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He died for us.
Such love is beyond our ability to grasp with our minds, but it is not beyond our ability to experience with our hearts.
5 Truths about Love – You Are Commanded to Love
God makes a way for us to obey the command to love others.
2. You Are Commanded to Love
A certain lawyer asked Jesus, “Sir, which is the most important command in the laws of Moses?”
Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets stem from these two laws and are fulfilled if you obey them. Keep only these and you will find that you are obeying all the others.”
At one time in my Christian life I was troubled over the command to love God so completely. How could I ever measure up to such a high standard? Two very important considerations have helped me to desire to love and please Him completely.
God’s Character and Holy Spirit Motivate Love
First, the Holy Spirit has filled my heart with God’s love, as promised in Romans:
We know how dearly God loves us, and we feel this warm love everywhere within us because God has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love.
Second, by meditating on the attributes of God and the wonderful things He has done and is doing for me, I find my love for Him growing. I love Him because He first loved me.
How could God love me so much that He was willing to die for me? Why should God choose me to be His child? By what merit do I deserve to be his ambassador to tell this good news of His love and forgiveness to the world? On what basis do I deserve the privilege of His constant presence and His in-dwelling Spirit, of His promise to supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory? Why should I have the privilege — denied to most of the people of the world who do not know our Savior — of awaking each morning with a song in my heart and praise to Him on my lips for the love and joy and peace that He so generously gives to all who place their trust in his dear Son, the Lord Jesus?
I was a new Christian when I proposed to Vonette, who is now my wife. She had been an active church member, although — I discovered later — she was not a Christian at that time. Imagine her distress when, in my zeal for Christ, I explained to her that I loved God more than I loved her and that He would always be first in my life. I failed to explain, nor did I even realize at the time, that it was exactly because of my love for God that I was able to love her so much. Later, before we were married, she too experienced God’s love and forgiveness and became His child.
Through the years He has become first in her life also, and because He is now first in each of our lives, we enjoy a much deeper love relationship than we could otherwise have known. Though my responsibilities in His service take me to many parts of the world and I am often away from her and our home, we both find our joy and fulfillment in Him. The times when we are privileged to be together are all the richer because of our mutual love for Him and His love for us.
The one who has not yet learned to love God and to seek Him above all else and all others is to be pitied, for that person is missing the blessings that await all who love God with all their heart, soul and mind.
Loving God Helps Us Love Others
It is natural for you to fulfill the command to love your neighbors as yourself if you truly love God with all your heart, soul and mind. If you are properly related to God on the vertical plane, you will be properly related to others on the horizontal plane.
For example, billiard balls, rolling freely on a table, naturally bounce away from each other because of the nature of their construction. But if we tie strings to several balls and lift them perpendicular to the table, the balls will cluster together.
When individual Christians are vitally yoked to Christ and related to God and are walking in the Spirit, loving Him with all their hearts, souls and minds, they will fulfill God’s command to love others as themselves.
The apostle Paul explains:
If you love your neighbor as much as you love yourself you will not want to harm or cheat him, or kill him or steal from him. And you won’t sin with his wife or want what is his or do anything else the Ten Commandments say is wrong. All ten are wrapped up in this one, to love your neighbor as you love yourself. Love does no wrong to anyone. That’s why it fully satisfies all of God’s requirements. It is the only law you need.
It is love for God and for others that results in righteousness, in fruit, and in glory to Christ.
Also, you were commanded to love others because such love testifies to your relationship with the Father. You demonstrate that you belong to Christ by your love for others. The apostle John practically equates your salvation with the way you love others when he says that if you don’t love others, you do not know God, for He is love.
If someone who is supposed to be a Christian has money enough to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won’t help him — how can God’s love be within him? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions.
I demand that you love each other as much as I love you.
Viewing Others (and Ourselves) as God’s Creation Motivates Love
As a Christian you should love your neighbor because your neighbor is a creature of God made in the image of God; because God loves your neighbor; and because Christ died for your neighbor. Following the example of our Lord, you should love everyone, even as Christ did. You should devote your life to helping others experience His love and forgiveness.
Jesus also said:
There is a saying, “Love your friends and hate your enemies.” But I say: Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way you will be acting as true sons of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust too.
If you are friendly only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even the heathen do that.
When Christians begin to act like Christians and love God, their neighbors, their enemies and especially their Christian brothers — regardless of color, race or class — we will see in our time, as in the first century, a great transformation in the whole of society. People will marvel when they observe our love in the same way people marveled when they observed those first century believers saying, “How they love one another.”
I counsel many students and older adults who are not able to accept themselves. Some are weighted down with guilt because of unconfessed sins; others are not reconciled to their physical handicaps. Still others feel inferior mentally or socially. My counsel to one and all is, “God loves you and accepts you as you are. You must do the same. Get your eyes off yourself! Focus your love and attention on Christ and on others. Begin to lose yourself in service for him and for your fellow man.”
God’s kind of love is a unifying force among Christians! Paul admonishes us to “put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” that our “hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love.” Only God’s universal love can break through the troublesome barriers that are created by human differences. Only a common devotion to Christ — the source of love — can relieve tension, ease mistrust, encourage openness, bring out the best in people, and enable them to serve Christ together in a more fruitful way.
One mother shared that the discovery of these principles enabled her to be more patient and kind to her husband and children. “The children were driving me out of my mind with all of their childish demands,” she confided. “I was irritable with them, and because I was so miserable, I was a critical and nagging wife. No wonder my husband found excuses to work late at the office. It is all different now — God’s love permeates our home since I learned how to love by faith.”
A husband reported, “My wife and I have fallen in love all over again, and I am actually enjoying working in my office with men whom I couldn’t stand before I learned how to love by faith.”
3. You Cannot Love in Your Own Strength
Just as surely as “those who are in the flesh (the worldly, carnal person) cannot please God,” so in your own strength you cannot love as you ought.
You cannot demonstrate agape, God’s unconditional love for others, through your own efforts. How many times have you resolved to love someone? How often have you tried to manufacture some kind of positive, loving emotion toward another person for whom you felt nothing? It is impossible, isn’t it? In your own strength it is not possible to love with God’s kind of love.
By nature people are not patient and kind. We are jealous, envious and boastful. We are proud, haughty, selfish and rude, and we demand our own way. We could never love others the way God loves us!
5 Truths about Love – You Can Love With God’s Love by Faith
The impossible can become reality in the hardest of relationships.
4. You Can Love With God’s Love
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.
5. You Love By Faith
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.”
Take the Step to Love by Faith
Practical steps to making love a reality.
Agape love frequently expresses itself as a flow of compassion. Jesus said, “Rivers of living water shall flow from the inmost being of anyone who believes in me.” Compassion is one of these rivers. It is a gentle stream of tenderness and concern for another person’s need. Such love compelled Jesus to feed the hungry, comfort the sorrowing, heal the sick, teach the multitude, and raise the dead.
Most of us at some time in our lives have experienced this flow of love toward someone.
Perhaps you felt it while washing the dishes, or while working on the job, or driving down the freeway, or sitting in a classroom. You couldn’t explain it, but your impulse was to do something special for that person.
Start Asking God How to Love by Faith
I encourage you to take the first step; start loving by faith and follow that flow. It is Gods compassion streaming toward the one in need. The tug of love within you means that He is filling you with godly compassion and that He has chosen you to minister to that individual.
Ask God to manifest His tender compassion through you in some way today. As you pray, ask Him to lay someone on your heart. When you sense God’s love flowing through you to that individual, find out his need and begin ministering to that need. By following the leading of Gods Spirit, you can help those whom the Lord has prepared for His transforming touch, and you will become part of His miraculous provision. When God leads you to help someone, He will enable you to do what He leads you to do.
A Japanese magazine has a picture of a butterfly on one of its pages. Its color is a dull gray until warmed by one’s hand. The touch of a hand causes the special inks in the printing to react, and the dull gray is transformed into a flashing rainbow of color.
What other things can be thus changed by the warmth of your interest and agape love? Your family? Your church? Your city? This hurting world is hungry for the touch of someone who cares — who really cares! Through God’s agape kind of love, you can be that someone.
Make a List of Those Who are Difficult to Love
But what about those who seem unlikable? People with whom you may have difficulty getting along? Individuals whose attitudes rub you the wrong way? I encourage you to make a list of people you do not like and begin to love them by faith.
Perhaps you will place yourself on the list. Have you thought of applying the truths of 1 Corinthians 13 to yourself by faith? Ask God to help you see yourself as He sees you. You have no reason to dislike yourself when your Creator has already forgiven you and demonstrated his unconditional love by dying for you!
If Christ is in you, you are complete because Christ Himself is perfect love, perfect peace, perfect patience, perfect kindness. He is all goodness, and He is in you! Whenever Satan tries to attack you by reminding you of sins which you have already confessed or by magnifying your weaknesses and shortcomings, claim in faith the forgiveness and righteousness of God, and thank Him that, on the authority of His Word, you do not have to be intimidated by Satan’s accusation.
Thank God that you are His child and that your sins are forgiven. Thank God that Satan has no control over you except that which is allowed by God. Then cast this care on the Lord as we are commanded to do in 1 Peter 5:7.
Perhaps your boss, a fellow employee, your spouse, your children or your father or mother is on the list of those whom you will love by faith. Pray for each person. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ’s love for all of them. Then, seek to meet with them as you draw upon God’s limitless inexhaustible, overwhelming love for them by faith. Expect God to work through you! Watch Him use your smile, your words, your patience to express His love for each individual.
Love by faith every one of your “enemies” — everyone who angers you, ignores you, bores you or frustrates you. People are waiting to be loved with God’s love.
A homemaker who, through a long cold winter, had seen her family through mumps, measles, a broken nose, 3 new teeth for the baby and countless other difficulties, reached the point where these pressures and demands became too much for her. Finally, on her knees, she began to protest, “Oh Lord! I have so much to do!” But imagine her surprise when she heard herself say, “Oh Lord! I have so much to love!” You will never run out of opportunities to love by faith.
Remember, the agape kind of love is an act of the will, not just an emotion. You love by faith. By faith, you can claim God’s step by step, person by person.
“The fruit of the Spirit is love…” Like fruit, love grows. Producing fruit requires a seed, then a flower, then pollination, then warm sun and refreshing rains, and even some contrary winds. Similarly in daily life, your love will be warmed by joy, watered by tears and spread by the winds of circumstances.
God uses all that you experience to work His will in your life. He is the one who makes your love grow. It is a continual, ever-increasing process. As Paul says, “May the Lord make your love to grow and overflow to each other and to everyone else…”
Let Love Motivate You
Now, how does loving by faith motivate you to engage in aggressive personal evangelism and contribute to the fulfillment of the Great Commission?
When you begin to truly love God by faith with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength and to love your neighbors as yourself, you will begin to see men as God sees them — as individuals of great worth, as those for whom Christ died. As a result, we shall be motivated by the same love which constrained the apostle Paul who said, “Everywhere we go we talk about Christ to all who will listen.”
Love, God’s kind of love, causes the Great Commission to become a personal responsibility and privilege. When non-Christians observe believers not only saying that they love one another, but also proving it by their actions, they, like their first-century counterparts, will marvel at “how they love one another” and will be drawn to receive and worship our Savior with us.
How exciting it is to have such a dynamic, joyful force available to us! And it all comes from our loving Savior, Jesus Christ, who explicitly promises in His Word all that you need. You need not guess, nor hope, nor wish. You can claim this love by faith, right now, on the basis of God’s command to love and His promise to answer whenever you pray for anything according to His will.
Why not make this prayer your own: “Lord, You would never have commanded me to love had You not intended to enable me to do so. Therefore, right now, on the authority of Your commands for me to love and on the authority of Your promise to answer if I asked anything according to Your will, I personally claim Your love — the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love — for You, for all people, and for myself. Amen.”
Remember, How You Can Love by Faith is a transferable concept. You can master it by reading it six times; then pass it on to others as our Lord commands us in Matthew 28:20, “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” The apostle Paul encouraged us to do the same: “The things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Learn more about loving by faith with these study guides.
- How would you explain the difference between eros, phileo and agape love?
- What is unconditional love? How do you show this kind of love to others?
- What does Romans 8:35-39 tell us about God’s love?
- Is the depth of God’s love real to you? If so, what affect does that realization have on your life? If not, what can you do to increase your realization of His love?
- How would you obey the command of John 13:34?
- How does 1 John 3:16-19 and 4:14-19 define real love?
- How could you express love in the following situations?
- At home
- At school
- At work
- At church
- At a sporting event
- Why is it important to love yourself? How do you do this? What often keeps a person from loving himself? How does this affect his love for others?
- How and why is love powerful enough to overcome prejudice, hatred, rebellion, anger, fear, or jealousy?
- Why do you feel love? (See Romans 5:5)
- How can you claim God’s love? Why is faith important in love?
- What resources can you cling to when you find it difficult to love someone?
- 1 Peter 5:7
- Philippians 4:13
- Colossians 3:2, 13
- 1 Thessalonians 3:12, 13
- How is love expressed in Colossians 1: 28?
- How can you relate the promise in 1 John 5:14, 15 to claiming God’s power to love others by faith? How does it relate to your own involvement in personal evangelism?
- Make a list of people you do not like and begin to love them by faith. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with Christ’s love for each of them. Pray for each person. Think of ways you can demonstrate Christ’s love to them this week.
Group Discussion Questions
- List and discuss the characteristics of God’s love found in 1 Corinthians 13. Name a synonym for or give a short description of each characteristic. Share what each quality means to you.
- Discuss ways in which the church as a body of Christian believers can express its love for God and one another.
- Have each member of your group share about a person in their life whom they consider a “neighbor.” In what way can you show love to that person?
- Most of us have at least one weakness in our lives that we find difficult to love. Share this concern (if appropriate) with your group. How does God’s love apply to loving yourself in this area?
- Think of an occasion when you had to claim God’s power to love your enemy. Share what happened. If there is someone in your life now who seems unlovable, what will you do this week to change that situation?
- What are the basic elements of the command given to believers in Matthew 22:36-40? Share what each element means to you.
- What roles do God’s command, His promise and your will play in loving by faith? (See 1 John 5:14, 15)
- Loving is a growth process. Share some areas in which God is challenging you to love by faith today.
Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Love By Faith, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Campus Crusade for Christ. All rights reserved.