During Outreach Phase of DTS we went to 3 places. In each place God taught me a new lesson. When I look back however I see how all 3 lessons relate in someway.
This is the third lesson I learned, during the third part of outreach in Nepal. The first was on the importance of abiding in Jesus so I can produce fruit that is good (John 15:1-17). The second lesson was about how I abide, through devotion. This third one will talk about the fruit that should come from abiding in Christ, which for me is PERFECT LOVE!
As we were flying to Nepal and I was praying to God about an specific thing He had for me in Nepal I got the word “EVERYONE.” I asked God what that meant and He spoke to my heart, “I want you to love EVERYONE on this trip, regardless of how they treat you or what they are like.” “I want you to love every person I put before you, no matter who they are.” I’d like to say I did love everyone like He asked. While sometimes I did, unfortunately sometimes I messed up. Still, I learned something from every situation and this is what I will share in this blog.
WHAT IS LOVE?
Love is pretty important. The world love is mentioned over 538 times in the bible. In 1 Corinthians 13 it says that, “love is the greatest.” The first fruit mentioned in the Fruit of the Spirit is love (Galatians 5:22). Jesus taught us to “love” our enemies. The greatest commandment is about “loving” God and the second is about “loving” others.
In 1 John 4:7-21, it talks about how “love comes from God.” “God is love.” “God shows us love through His Son.” “That we need to love others because God loved us.” In verse 12 it shows that all people can see God on this earth when they witness true acts of humble, authentic, love.
So how can I access this “perfect love?” Well, the way I understand it is by abiding in Christ. When I do this I gain access through the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ (vs 13-17).
As I taught this lesson I used the example of me giving my iPhone to someone as a gift. Not many Nepali people have smartphones, especially in the rural villages so this analogy worked great. I asked the student to turn it on but she didn’t know how. Then I asked her if she would like to learn how to use it? She said yes and I asked her ways she could learn. Examples given by the students were to contact the creator of the phone, go to the store and ask a representative to help, ask me or another person or friend who already had experience using one, or read the instruction manual. Then I said “The more you use your smart phone the better you will get at knowing how to handle it.”
Learning how to use perfect love is the same as learning how to use a new smartphone for the first time. We don’t know how to love perfectly until we ask the Creator of perfect love, God, to show us. We can also go to church and learn from pastors and elders. We can ask our veteran Christian friends to help us understand and pray for us. Lastly we can learn by reading the bible. The more we love others, even our enemies, the easier it will get to truly love others with humble, authentic love.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT LOVE AND CONFLICT
· *When I only point out the flaws in people it only makes their flaws greater in my eyes and sets people up for failure.
· *When I only point out the flaws by being critical of others, it prevents love from happening because fear, anger, and hate fill the heart of the one being criticized.
· *Perfect love is loving someone regardless of their flaws and patiently helping them get on track.
· *Perfect love gently rebukes the flaws and boldly proclaims the strengths.
· *Perfect love is gracious remembering all life has value. It treats all life that with value, even if the wrongdoer doesn’t repent. It remembers I too am a sinner in need of saving grace.
· *Perfect love restores.
· *Perfect love pleases God and gives me confidence.
· *Perfect love is not prideful.
· *Asking for help doesn’t make a person weak. It actually makes them better because it humbles them and gives them the chance to be blessed and learn from others. By doing this that person asking for help grows in wisdom and humility. They can learn to do things the right way; the first time.
Things in this world are constantly going to let me down or break my heart. Some of those things will be things that break God’s heart like injustice, abuse, or lostness. Other things will be things that try and distract me from God, like a break-up, a broken friendship, consequences from bad choices I make, or abandonment and rejection from friends and family. I can’t fix my heart. I can try to super glue the pieces back together but it will never be whole again. When I abide in Christ, and trust Him, then He will give me a new heart with the capacity to love and trust again.
Love is perfected the more I show genuine love to others. Love is perfected the deeper I abide in Christ and the more I am devoted to Christ because love abides in God. When I tap into God’s love by spending time with Him, the love I give is made perfect because God is perfect. God created love and He should always be the example I look to when giving love. He should always be the refuel station I go to when my love tank is running dry.
*********To read about the DTS outreach in Nepal click here.