Used at Belhaven University and in the class: Christ-likeness—The Fruit of the Holy Spirit
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you….And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them….Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love….Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. (John 15:12; 1 John 4:16; Eph 4:2; 1 Pet 4:8)
How are Jesus’ followers to practice Christ-like love? Here are some more suggestions: Give Without Sparing and Pray Without Ceasing. If you missed it, you can read Christ-like Love: Listening and Speaking
Give Without Sparing
Scriptures: A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed….All day long a sluggard craves for more, but the righteous give without sparing….Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you….It is more blessed to give than to receive.1
Lazy people are marked by restless coveting and their desires are never satisfied. But the Holy Spirit more and more frees Christ’s followers from selfish desires, and makes us like God our Father, giving generously and sacrificially.2 The Spirit helps us to earn all we can, save all we can, and give all we can to relieve others who are hard pressed.3
While on vacation in Dublin, Ireland, Henry Ford was asked if he would contribute to a collection for a new orphanage. Judging the cause worthy, Ford promptly wrote out a check for 2,000 pounds. His generosity made headline news in the local paper the following day. The amount of the check, however, was wrongly reported as 20,000 pounds. The orphanage director called on Ford at his hotel to apologize. “I’ll phone the editor and tell him to correct the mistake,” he said. “There’s no need for that,” replied Ford, taking out his checkbook and pen. “I’ll give you a check for the remaining 18,000 pounds, but only on one condition. When the new building opens, I want this inscription on it: “I was a stranger and you took Me in.”4 Henry Ford was quoting from Jesus’ words which He will speak when He separates the sheep and the goats at the Last Judgment!
If we are not generous with what we have, let’s not deceive ourselves. We would not be generous if we had more.
Pray Without Ceasing
Scriptures: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will in Christ Jesus for you….Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer….Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God….We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus, praying always for you….We do not cease to pray for you.5
The Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote his letter to the believers in Colossae (in modern day Turkey). It was dark and cold there and Paul didn’t know if or when he would get out. But he prayed for people he’d never met. He asked the Lord to give them spiritual understanding, fruitful lives, and strength, patience, and joy. Paul gave thanks and prayed for his fellow believers constantly, not just when he felt good or when it was convenient. God calls all Jesus’ followers to do the same.
A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another or it collapses. I can no longer condemn or hate a brother or sister for whom I pray, no matter how much trouble they cause me. Their face, that hitherto may have been intolerable to me, is transformed in intercession into the countenance of a brother or sister for whom Christ died, the face of a forgiven sinner. This is a happy discovery for the Christian who begins to pray for others.6
I am often interrupted when I’m praying by phone calls, emails, and texts; by drop in visitors, by random thoughts, and by visual and auditory distractions. But I don’t want to sin against the Lord by failing to pray for His people; they need our intercession. So I must handle the distractions and get back to praying for others—family, friends, enemies, people I serve in ministry, and people around the globe who I know of but have never met. The best way to influence people for God is to intercede with God for them. The Lord shows us people’s faults and weaknesses, not so that we can criticize them, but that we may pray for them more earnestly.
Pray for Wandering Prodigals
Some of us have sons, daughters, grand-children who are lost, angry, and struggling to find their identity. They seem hardened on the outside, but they are hurting inside. Sarah Walton, who was herself a wandering prodigal, encourages us to pray these three prayers over our lost children and all the wandering adult children we know of:
- Pray for a heart of brokenness in them, whatever the earthly cost, that would lead to their healing by God.7
- Pray against the enemy’s desire to have them.8
- Pray specific Scriptures for them. Even if our children want nothing to do with God’s truth, they can’t stop us from praying Scripture for them. This is a mighty weapon God has given us. Sarah’s parents prayed Psalm 18:16–19 for her over and over, until the Lord Jesus rescued His wandering child and brought her home.9
Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) was raised by a godly mother, Monica, and a pagan father, Patricius, who converted to Christianity on his deathbed. In spite of his mother’s loving warnings, Augustine lived a hedonistic lifestyle for a time and boasted of his sexual exploits. Monica never stopped praying and Augustine was converted the age of 31, in part through reading Romans chapters 12 to 15, especially 13:13-14: “Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Let’s not give up on our children, begging God to be merciful to them and to allow them no rest until they rest in Christ and return to following Him. “We give to others what they need. We show no greater care, than when we give them to the Lord, surrounding them with prayer.”10
Notes: 1 Prov 11:25; 21:26; Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35. 2 Matt 5:43-48. 3 John Wesley. 4 Matt 25:35. 5 1 Thes 5:16-18; Rom 12:12; Phil 4:6; Col 1:3,9. 6 Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together (1939). 7 Ps 51:17; 34:17-18; 50:7-15. 8 Luke 22:31–32. 9 Pray Them Home by Sarah Walton, Desiring God, June 15, 2017. 10 Many of these thoughts helped by Dave Brannon of Our Daily Bread.