In all the things that we have come to as Christians, this is the most important.
We are being trained in Christ so the we may be like Hime. We are being transformed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Jesus Christ, who is Himself the image of the Father.
And we know that God is the epitome of all that is love for the scripture tells us that God IS love.
Thus the most important thing we must learn to do, and indeed the outcome of the training and transformation that is going on in every Christian is to learn how to walk in love.
What is Walking in Love?
Walking in love encompasses all of the things that we need to learn and do as Christians. Primarily it is about considering others first. We consider their needs, their feelings, aspirations, desires, hurts and so on and aim to live harmoniously with all.
Thus, to walk in love includes such things as forgiveness, compassion, mercy, justice, overlooking small slights, controlling your own passions and emotions, considering what may hurt or upset others before doing them, guarding your tongue, building up others through encouragement, exhortation and supporting each other.
And it ain’t easy!
It’s not easy because we need to be able to live in and thru love every day, 24/7, for the rest of your life. This is what Jesus did. He provided us the example of one who walks in love and we are to learn from His example and learn to be like Him.
Are you able to do this? I know for a fact that I am not there yet but I also know that the work of transformation that the Holy Spirit has begun in me is continuing while I hold fast to the faith.
The level of what walking in love goes down to is a complete transformation of your spirit and mind. Not only will you not do the wrong thing, when walking in love is complete, you will not even THINK about doing the wrong thing. You will by nature think, act and behave as Jesus Christ would do because your mind will be like His mind, transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Is this possible? Well the bible tells us this is where we are headed so I believe fully and wholeheartedly that this is what will happen. But it won’t happen overnight.
How do we Walk in Love?
Like everything we learn as Christians, walking in love is a journey.
It begins when we first come to Christ for repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ are the first steps to receiving Him into your life.
As we continue down the road to salvation we learn more and more about Jesus and how we must live. We learn all of those attitudes and behaviours I mentioned above. And then we learn how to apply them in our life for both our benefit, to benefit others and to give glory to the Lord.
Let us look at the few examples in this scripture today. In Romans 14:13-15 Paul writes,
13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.
Here we see that when we do anything, in this case eating of certain foods that some consider unclean, and doing that thing is a hindrance to a brother or a sister, then we are not walking in love.
If someone sees you doing something that THEY think is wrong or inappropriate, then you are not showing love towards them. Using Paul’s example, we know that Jews will not eat any meat from a pig. We know also that many from the Muslim faith will likewise not eat pig meat. But you may not feel that is an issue and will happily eat pork, ham, bacon and so on.
Now most of the time you will be OK to do as you feel justified doing and as Paul indicates in the scriptures above, “nothing is unclean in itself…” and that includes meat from a pig. There are good reasons from a health perspective that you might choose not to eat it, but for the most part most people think it is OK.
But if you happen to find yourself in the company of Jews or Muslims and you eat meat from a pig, THEY will be offended, THEY will think you are barbaric and unclean and they will probably have nothing to do with you.
So who has done the wrong thing? Was it them because they believed pig meat is unclean or was it you who chose to eat something they find abhorrent?
From a love perspective, the one who did wrong is YOU because knowing they feel as they do about pig meat you chose to ignore their beliefs and feelings and put yourself first rather than putting them first.
Walking in love says put THEM first and do not go about your own business if something you would do is upsetting to others. It is their feelings that matter in this case because even though you may think it is OK to eat pig meat, you also don’t care if you don’t. To you it makes no difference either way, but to them it is a big issue.
So if it is not an issue to you, why would you do something that you know will upset others? Walking in love says, “Don’t upset others!” Do what is right by all and if there is no law prohibiting what they believe or do, then just do it or abstain from what you might normally do for their sake.
Should I Always Do This?
There is one occasion where you need to draw a line in the sand. If what they are saying or doing is clearly wrong in the eyes of the Lord, then you must not do it.
Gently explain why you will not participate in what they are proposing, and then abstain. As Paul wrote in verse 16 of this section in Romans 14,
16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Yes. Do not let what you are doing that is good be spoken of as evil. Do not reject the truth and what is right in the eyes of God for the sake of others, but instead use the opportunity to enlighten them as to what is good and right and true.
But when the matters at issue are not specific to or opposing the truth, then it doesn’t matter and you should not give offense to the other person. As verse 17 says, it’s not about food and drink but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Christianity is not about the things of this physical realm. It is not about whether you wear certain clothes, eat certain foods, listen to certain music and so on. It is all about how you live your life in the pursuit of truth, justice, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. Christianity is about the things of the Spirit, not the things of the flesh, and food, clothes, money, status and so on are all to do with the flesh.
Just Love One Another?
Occasionally I hear people say, “All we have to do is to love one another!”
While that is the aim of walking in love and is the end goal for Christianity, it is not that simple to do. You don’t just turn around one day and start loving everybody. We first need to learn what the love of God is, for it is different to what is commonly called love in this world, then we need to learn how to apply it in out lives and towards each other.
This is no easy task or easy ask, and that is why God pours His love into our hearts through the receiving of the Holy Spirit. He gives us the Holy Spirit to be our guide and to counsel us in the ways of God’s love. It is the work of the Holy Spirit to teach each of us individually how to love each other as God loves us.
And that is a long journey with many steps. We first need to learn to walk in the faith, then learn to walk in the Spirt and finally learn to walk in love. And you cannot achieve the latter parts of this walk until you have journeyed the earlier parts.
It’s a bit like taking small children for a long drive. They ask constantly as the journey drags on, “Are we there yet?” But they can’t get to the destination until they have traversed all the miles in between. Traveling on a journey does not mean you step out the door and are immediately at the destination.
Likewise, we cannot fully walk in love as God seeks unless and until we have been through the earlier stages of the journey.
We need to learn about repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Spirit, walking in the spirit and all the teachings Jesus taught us to learn about living in the spirit. Then we will be ready and able to walk in love as Christ walked in love. But it is a lifelong journey and who knows when we reach the end of it but God alone.
But as we walk we are being slowly transformed and so the attitudes of love are slowly being manifested in us. We will show some attributes of walking love as we grow, and they will increase as we continue to walk with Christ. Thus we see the final few verses of this section in Romans 14:18-19 which tells us how important this walking in love is.
18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
If you seek the approval of God and men, then this is the path you must follow. Seek to learn how to walk in love.
(I Mage sourced from freeimages.com provided by Svilen Milev at effective.com )
You might also like:
All Things To All People
Restored By Grace
The Good Samaritan
A New Commandment
How To Love Jesus
The Friend Of God
In His Violent Death He Loved
The Family Of God
Family Of God
The Family Of Jesus The Family Of God
Father And Son
The Reluctant King
There Will Be No Sneaking In
Protection Of The Father