Life and Godliness: Love

Beach with heart drawn onto the sand

Love

Jesus exhorts us ‘to love the Lord our God with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our mind.’ And ‘to love our neighbor as our self.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)

Timothy declares, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

Peter urges us to be diligent to add love, “Above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, employ it in serving one another, as good managers of the grace of God in its various forms.”

Peter continues in his encouragement, “If anyone speaks, let it be as it were the very words of God. If anyone serves, let it be as of the strength which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:8-11)

Foundational Thoughts

“This is the crowning pinnacle, because love is the greatest quality (see 1 Corinthians 13:13). God Himself is love. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). If we do not have love, everything else becomes pointless (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).”

“Love must pervade every other quality, and faith must ground them. Virtue without faith and love evolves into mere duty. Knowledge without faith and love creeps toward hardness of heart and mind. Self-control without faith and love swells into pride. Steadfastness without faith and love soars to legalism. Godliness without faith and love gallops toward outward conformity. And brotherly affection without faith and love boasts a lie.” [Ivill 110]

“There is more to Christian growth than brotherly love; we must also have the sacrificial love that our Lord displayed when He went to the cross. The kind of love (charity) spoken of in 2 Peter 1:7 is agape love, the kind of love that God shows toward lost sinners.”

“This is the love that is described in 1 Corinthians 13, the love that the Holy Spirit produces in our hearts as we walk in the Spirit (Romans 5:5; Galatians 5:22). When we have brotherly love, we love because of our likeness to others, but with agape love, we love in spite of the differences we have.” [Wiersbe 26]

Scriptures

For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son, than whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Beloved, let’s love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God. He who doesn’t love doesn’t know God, for God is love. By this God’s love was revealed in us, that God has sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Beloved, if God loved us in this way, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:7-11)

Now faith, hope, and love remain – these three. The greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

OT Biblical Life of Love

Daniel showed love to his captors by serving them as unto the Lord. His excellent spirit brought favor to him and allowed God to glorify His Name through him. God encourages us to walk in the same manner. “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Daniel served his captors without reservation until their requirements contradicted his worship of God. Even when their law demanded he stop praying for thirty days, Daniel feared God, not man. The resulting punishment of being thrown in the lion’s den brought glory to God when Daniel remained untouched by the hungry lions. Daniel’s uncompromising love brought honor to God and to His Name.

And Daniel showed love by laying his life down for his people in prayer. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus literally laid down his life on the Cross for our sins; we, like Daniel, can lay down our lives in prayer for our friends and our country.

[See Daniel: A Man above Reproach https://strengthwithdignity.com/daniel-a-man-above-reproach/ ]

[See Daniel: A Man of Prayer https://strengthwithdignity.com/daniel-a-man-of-prayer/ ]

NT Biblical Life of Love

Jesus told many parables, one is called the Good Samaritan which Jesus told as an illustration for who we are to consider as our neighbor. This story tells of a man traveling alone who was robbed, beaten and left half dead. Jesus continues the story by telling of three travelers who encountered the beaten man and their reaction to him.

Our first traveler was a religious man who upon seeing the beaten man, passed by him on the other side of the road. Our second traveler was a man of high standing, and he too passed by on the other side of the road.

Our third traveler was a foreigner in the land who upon seeing the beaten man had compassion on him. He came to him, poured oil and wine upon his wounds, then bandaged his wounds, placed him on his own animal, took him to the nearest inn and cared for him through the night.

The following day, the kind stranger gave the innkeeper money to continue caring for the injured traveler, promising to repay the innkeeper for any extra expenses incurred. Jesus asked, “Which of the three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” The reply was, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

Jesus is saying that love flows from a heart of compassion and mercy. And love in our hearts is manifested practically to those around us; love is expressed in compassion towards others.

Historical Life of Love

George Washington Carver was shown love as a baby when he was given to a Christian white couple when another person defaulted on their debt. The couple raised George and his brother as if they were their own children. Though raised on a working farm, George was too sickly to do farm work, so he helped with the kitchen and laundry chores.

When fetching water from the creek, George would linger along the way: studying, wondering, pondering, admiring, and engaging with God’s creation around him. When neighbors would show him a sick plant, he would tend to it until it thrived. This earned him the nickname, the Plant Doctor.

Education Calls

At the age of thirteen, George walked eight miles to attend school. The local midwife allowed him to stay with her and to earn his keep through doing chores around the house. She taught George about plants and herbal remedies for sickness.

George Washington Carver attempted other avenues of further education, but when they didn’t come to fruition, he turned to homesteading 160 acres in Western Kansas. After a few years, he returned his land and again turned to education. He attended Simpson College to study art and showed real talent, but was encouraged to develop his scientific mind.

George attended an agricultural school. Though the only black man in an all-white school during a racially charged time in our nation, George Washington Carver walked in such a spirit of excellence and graciousness that he advanced to a leadership position. George was offered to continue past his Master’s degree to obtain his PhD and become a faculty member. George turned down this generous offer to move to the South to assist rural farmers and to join the Tuskegee Institute.

The South Beckons

Though the Tuskegee Institute lacked resources, George Washington Carver desired to assist the poor farmers of the time. He desired to teach farmers how to live in a self-sufficient manner. He would meet with the people in the community on Sundays and offer them advice.

George Washington Carver developed pamphlets which offered practical written advice on agriculture. These bulletins were on: fertilizer, seed storage, planting, canning, etc. They were basic step-by-step guides for the one-horse farmer.

George Washington Carver designed, outfitted and utilized a portable wagon. It was a wagon that went directly to the farmer in his field. George would demonstrate techniques, show diagrams, etc. which would improve the lives of the poor rural farmers of the South.

George Washington Carver is best known for helping the tobacco and cotton farmers. The farmers’ soils were depleted of nutrients from continuously planting the same crops and they were fighting beetles that migrated from Mexico. The Bo-weevil decimated the nation’s cotton crop.

George Washington Carver taught the farmers about alternative cash crops, such as: sweet potatoes, soy beans, black-eye peas, and peanuts. These crops were easy to grow, easy on the soil, and versatile. Some farmers were hesitant to change, so George demonstrated 300 uses for peanuts, including: peanut butter, soap, paint, glue, etc. This assisted the farmer’s in planting alternative crops, making use of their harvest and starting the restorative process for the South’s depleted soil.

The World Listens

In 1921, George Washington Carver was summoned to Washington DC to present his findings in restoring the South’s soil with peanut crops to the House Ways & Means Committee. He was told he had ten minutes to speak, then as he educated and illuminated those before him, he was told to speak as long as wanted. Everyone was mesmerized. From this presentation, he became famous and known as the Peanut Man.

In time, George Washington Carver spoke with and advised three American presidents. Thomas Edison offered him a job with a large salary, but George turned him down because his heart was set on helping the farmers of the South improve their lives. George saw extraordinary where many others only saw the mundane.

George Washington Carver said, “When you do the common things in life in an uncommon way, it commands the attention of the world.”

Loved to Loving

George Washington Carver was shown love by his adoptive parents, the midwife near the school he attended, the faculty and students at the all-white college and he expressed his love and appreciation by adopting those around him. George Washington Carver was an avid mentor. He taught 150+ in Bible Study on Sundays. He mentored students at the Tuskegee Institute. He mentored boys at the local YMCA.

George Washington Carver partnered with the YMCA and the governments Interracial Cooperation to ease racial tensions. When hired to speak to white young people at the Blue Ridge Race Relations conference, George spoke on plants, the soil, etc. He was the example of being a person of knowledge and worthy of respect and not to be judged merely by the color of his skin. The racial walls were torn down, and he received a standing ovation.

Eight Cardinal Virtues

George Washington Carver stated that ninety-nine percent of failures come from people who have the habit of making excuses. He encouraged everyone to “rise to the full height of their possibilities by possessing these eight cardinal virtues which constituted a lady or a gentleman:

  • Be clean both inside and outside
  • Who neither look up to the rich nor down on the poor
  • Who loses, if need be, without squealing
  • Who wins without bragging
  • Who is always considerate of women, children and old people
  • Who is too brave to lie
  • Who is too generous to cheat
  • Who takes his share of the world and lets other people take theirs” [nps.gov]

George gave all the credit to God. He told his students, “I go into my laboratory alone with the Great Creator.” George Washington Carver believed God would unlock the secrets of creation to those who asked for them.

God gave George Washington Carver visions and dreams, then George would faithfully write down what he had seen. George Washington Carver was a learner who sought the Master Teacher, learned from Him, and then taught others what he learned – to the benefit of all mankind.

Modern-Day Life of Love

World Vision is a “Christian humanitarian organization helping children, families, and their communities overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision empowers communities and guides them to set their own goals” – equipping them for sustainability.

They approach communities holistically through: “transformational development that is community-based and sustainable, focused on the needs of children; emergency relief that assists people harmed by disaster or conflict; and promotion of justice by seeking to change unjust structures affecting the poor.”

World Vision does “partnerships with churches to contribute to spiritual and social transformation; public awareness that leads to informed understanding; witness to Jesus Christ by life, deed, word and sign that encourages people to respond to the Gospel. World Vision serves alongside the poor and oppressed as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love for all people.”

Honoring God

World Vision serves families all over the world and in the toughest areas of the world. World Vision recognizes that values cannot be legislated, but they can be lived. World Vision honors God and seeks to live their core values in their decisions, relationships, and actions.

World Visions focus is on “helping the most vulnerable children overcome poverty and experience fullness of life. They protect children today, and empower them for tomorrow.” World Vision educates, provides health care, disaster management, child protection, faith and development, economic development, nutrition and clean water.

Faithful Service

World Vision has a wonderful success rate. “Every sixty seconds, a family receives water, a hungry child is fed, and a family gets the tools they need to overcome poverty. World Vision has helped 3.4 children attain sponsorship; it has helped 3.4 million receive clean water; and it has helped 20 million people in emergency situations.”

“Eighty-eight percent of their total operating expenses are used for programs that benefit children, families, and communities in need. World Vision has 34,000 staff members in one hundred countries.”

“World Visions believes they honor Jesus Christ by helping all people, regardless of the receiver’s faith. World Vision tries to bring justice, peace, reconciliation, and healing through their service to the poorest of the poor. They are called to bring an end to suffering and partner with people for transformation.”

Personal Life of Love

Daniel laid down his life in service to his captors (as unto the Lord) and in prayer for his countrymen. Daniel delighted in God and found the God of Love in the midst of hardship.

The Good Samaritan showed love through his compassionate acts of care to a wounded stranger he found along the path of his journey. His love expressed itself in mercy, concern and practical helps.

George Washington Carver laid down his life in love and appreciation for the One who loved Him first, then became a vessel of deliverance to poor farmers of the South, and a reconciler during a time of racial tension in our country.

World Vision shows love through honoring God and serving the poorest of the poor by helping them attain clean water, education, and transformational programs that benefit the entire community.

May Daniel, the Good Samaritan, George Washington Carver and World Vision inspire us to love and serve others through a heart of compassion.

Life and Godliness in Perspective

“It is impossible for fallen human nature to manufacture these seven qualities of Christian character. They must be produced by the Spirit of God. To be sure, there are unsaved people who possess amazing self-control and endurance, but these virtues point to them and not to the Lord. They get the glory. When God produces the beautiful nature of His Son in a Christian, it is God who receives the praise and glory.”

“Because we have the divine nature, we can grow spiritually and develop this kind of Christian character. It is through the power of God and the precious promises of God that this growth takes place. The divine ‘genetic structure’ is already there: God wants us to be ‘conformed to the image of his Son’ (Romans 8:29). The life within will reproduce that image if we but diligently cooperate with God and use the means He has lavishly given us.”

“And the amazing thing is this: As the image of Christ is reproduced in us, the process does not destroy our own personalities. We still remain uniquely ourselves!”

“One of the dangers in the church today is imitation. People have a tendency to become like their pastor, or like a church leader, or perhaps like some ‘famous Christian.’ As they do this, they destroy their own uniqueness while failing to become like Christ. They lose both ways!”

“Just as each child in a family resembles his parents and yet is different, so each child in God’s family comes more and more to resemble Jesus Christ and yet is different. Parents don’t duplicate themselves, they reproduce themselves, and wise parents permit their children to be themselves.” [Wiersbe 26-27]

Prayer:

Lord, we desire to love You with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. You are worthy of all praise, glory, honor and blessing. We exalt and lift You up – for there is none like You.

Lord, we desire to love our neighbor as our self. We desire to use every gift, skill or ability You have given us to encourage others and to glorify Your Name. Strengthen us to speak Your Words of Life and encouragement.

I pray You would keep us from loving out of duty, pride, legalism, conformity, performance, selfish ambition, hardness of heart or mind. Let everything we do be done with the purity of Your Love that we might honor You and honor others. Thank you for strengthening us and giving us grace to serve others as unto You.

Thank you for conforming us into the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that You might be reflected through us to those around us.

Recommendations:

For further reading on life and godliness, see Lisa’s post on Life and Godliness: Knowledge https://strengthwithdignity.com/life-and-godliness-knowledge/ Life and Godliness: Knowledge – Strength with Dignity

If you would like to learn more about praying for the nations, see: Praying for the Nations https://strengthwithdignity.com/praying-for-the-nations/

Scriptures:

Matthew 22:37-39; Luke 10:25-37; John 3:16, 15:13; 1 Corinthians 13:13; Colossians 3:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:7; 1 Peter 4:8-11; 1 John 4:7-11

References:

Discovering George Washington Carver – A Man of Character. Published by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, George Washington Carver National Monument in Diamond, Missouri. The Eight Cardinal Virtues were found at: nps.gov/gwca on page 24. Retrieved on March 31, 2021 from https://www.nps.gov/gwca/learn/education/upload/Charactor%20Education%20Book%20Grade%202-3.pdf

George Washington Carver: An Uncommon Way. Published by Franklin Springs-Nest Learning (DVD), 2010.

Ivill, Sarah. 1 Peter, 2 Peter and Jude: Steadfast in the Faith. RHB, 2017.

Swindoll, Charles R. Swindoll’s Living Insights: New Testament Commentary – James – 1 & 2 Peter. Tyndale House Publishers, 2014.

Wiersbe, Warren W. Be Alert: Beware of Religious Imposters – NT Commentary 2 Peter, 2 & 3 John, Jude. Victor Books, 1984.

World English Bible (WEB) by Public Domain. The name “World English Bible” is trademarked.

World Vision. Retrieved on April 1, 2021 from www.worldvision.org

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