Earn God’s Love

“The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.” (Galatians 5:6)

We may confess salvation by faith with our mouths, but in our hearts we work to keep (or earn more of) God’s love.

The proof is in our pride: the false belief that we are somehow better than others because of what we’ve done for God.

There can be no doubt, doing things for God is vitally important, essential in this way: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.” Faith must be expressed because it is a belief that is strong enough to translate into action. Weak beliefs are called opinions. And they flee fast when action is required to prove their worth.

The Galatians began in faith, but fell into a works mentality. Paul spoke definitively to correct their error.

Two questions are useful here:

  • How should my faith express itself?
  • How can I earn more of God’s love?

The first question takes a lifetime of perseverance to answer. The second is much more simple: nothing.

undiscovered opportunities

“… it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you…” (Galatians 4:13)

Scripture tells us that Paul’s illness was a trial for the Galatians. He praised them for not treating him with contempt or scorn–implying that their response was uncommon, unique, mature.

If it was a trial for them, imagine how difficult it must have been for Paul!

The hard truth is that hardships can open doors that would otherwise be closed. When life gets difficult, we are quick to complain. We settle for mere survival. What if our goal was not to simply get through, but to be used by God in the midst of hardship.

In times of stress we may find new opportunities to be faithful. Let’s commit to a new prayer:

God, help me in this season and open my eyes to see how you are calling me to act.

 

 

 

How human is your gospel?

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12)

I want you to know
In a world obsessed with gaining glory and self promotion, Paul’s example is vastly different. He is clear and direct: his teaching was not from people, not even himself. His authority came from God.

>>As a leader, when do you relish your influence too much?

Not of human origin
How we love to add to the gospel! Sometimes, we teachers, think it is not interesting enough, so we add conjecture and interpretation and present it as fact. More common, for all believers and followers of Jesus, we add our rituals and unwittingly create soul damaging ruts. DO THIS, DO THAT! Such additions undermine grace, seeking to earn and repay the extravagant gifts of God.

>>In your teaching and in your judgements of others, how have you added to the gospel?

Received by revelation from Jesus Christ
God spreads, and it’s our responsibility to listen and maintain our faith with discipline and perseverance. It’s easy to get caught up with the business of life–especially in the the face of success. However, we must not neglect our interior lives before God.

>>What is the condition of your spiritual life right now, is your heart postured to hear God?

Bearing burdens

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

I recently had a great conversation with a close friend. Beyond just catching up, we were able to talk about important stuff in our lives. Afterwards, took some time to consider why our friendship feels safe.

We can share significantly and authentically. It’s not easy, but we’ve learned to risk and share something personal, even if it’s raw. We can talk about doubts, failures, and fears. We aren’t created to handle life alone.

We both take time to listen. Healthy relationships ought to be a two way street, a safe place where both people share their burdens with one another.

We’re in prayer for one another. When it comes to burdens, both sharing and bearing, I have found prayer to be powerful in this way: when I pray about my issues, I know what I can talk about. When I pray for others, I’m asking God to intervene.

We are slow with advice. I’ve found that most burdens need to simply be shared, not solved. They aren’t complex problems that need an answer. Sometimes we need perspective and advice, but for the most difficult issues, we need support. When a burden is shared, nothing short circuits comfort faster than a cliché.

BIBLE STUDY DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
With your closest relationships, what are all the ways you express your love?

With your closest relationships, do you spend more time talking about your problems or more time listening? How could either extreme short circuit the possibility of having a close relationship?

Are you facing something big in your life that you are refusing to share with another person? What makes it difficult for you to open up?