Last week we started with a beginning discussion about Spiritual gifts, and we talked about how Paul mentions the list of gifts in Galatians and other places, not to give us an exhaustive understanding of gifts, but rather as examples of how the Spirit works in our lives to help bring the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
The first Spirit-filled gift that Paul mentions is love. Now it is important to remember that because Paul is talking about Spiritual gifts, he is not referring to love that comes easy to us, like when our children learn something neat or do something cute, or when our spouse remembers our birthday or anniversary.
I understand love as a spiritual gift when I am able to love someone I might normally find unlovable. This might be the homeless person asking for money, a friend who has hurt or disappointed me, or a person whose beliefs about life and God are very different from mine.
Under normal circumstances, when we encounter people like that, our normal inclination is far from love, but is usually indifference, anger, or intolerance. But when we find ourselves looking out for them, or able to forgive them, or having compassion for their situation and their lives, we are experiencing the Spiritual gift of love. It is love that is generated by God’s Spirit, and not by us.
But think about what is taking place when the Spiritual Gift of love is being exhibited in us. We are seeing other people, not as inconveniences to us, but instead as objects of God’s love upon whom we can develop compassion and mercy.
Now I hope you can see the importance of this kind of Spirit-gifted love. Love that is natural in us, that is God-given from the beginning of our lives, is important in and of itself. But love that is given by the Spirit when we cannot muster it ourselves is the kind of love that builds the Kingdom, and shows Christian faith in its fullness. It is the kind of love, that when lifted up, draws all around it like a fire on a cool night. So may we all look for that love, when it is being shown to us, and when we are showing it to others.
May worship be a blessing to you today.