I’m doing the Beth Moore Study “Living Beyond Yourself”. It’s a study of the Fruit of the Spirit. And it is amazing. I highly highly recommend anyone to take on this study. I have learned so much from what God reveals through Beth and the words she has written. One thing I have loved about the study is how much you read straight from the word. When I was younger and did Bible studies I recall a lot of what I learned was written by the person, with a verse here and there. And I love how much Beth refers you to God’s word. Because ultimately that’s where we need to be getting all our info from anyway.
I am on Week 3 and today did day 4. We’ve been studying Agape.
First of all one thing I was reminded is how distorted our society’s view of love is. It’s really quite sad. It’s no wonder that our divorce rate is as high as it is, people don’t have a clear concept of what love really is. At least not what Agape love is.
I can not tell you how many times I have read through 1 Corinthians 13. Every time I read those verses I am struck by how often I fail to love. I fail to love FAMILY, people who most of the time are easy to love. Not to mention we are called to love those who are hard to love. And then I was reminded by how hard I must be to love at times. It’s funny, we can so easily look at others and think “Boy is SHE hard to love!” But HELLO we are too! If we have true agape for others than we will find that 1 Timothy 4:8 Love covers a multitude of sins.
The section of this study that really hit me was the part “love is slow to anger”. Lately I have been VERY quick to anger. And Psalm 145:8 says God is “slow to anger and RICH in love”. Beth points out that we can not be rich in love and quick to anger. That was very convicting for me because I thought “Yeah, I definitely have not had much love for anyone lately….” How could I? I was too busy getting angry at them. But to think about not being “rich in love” for my children, or my husband, or my parents, or close friends of mine. That kind of hurts to think about it that way ya know. I mean I want to have a rich love for those family members and friends. But I can’t, if I’m easily angered. And I was glad that she gave this passage to look up because I think it will be one I memorize. Proverbs 15:1 A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. (NLT)
I could use some “deflecting” of anger! You know like when I’m outside taking Jake out and he heads straight for the canal and comes out smelling like a rotten egg. So I hose him down with the nice chlorinated water to clean him up a bit. Then M comes walking out of the house leaving the door open so that Jake can tear through it sopping wet, plowing over R in the process. A gentle word would have probably been better than me getting on (out of pure frustration) to M for leaving the door open.
The other portion that I loved about today was “love keeps no record of wrongs”. I am so guilty of this! And most of the time I don’t even realize it. Beth said “We humans revel in recording the failures of others”. I think this couldn’t be more true. How sick is it that it makes us feel better about ourselves when someone else messes up. Not the kind of person I want to be but I certainly have been that way at points. Psalm 119:29 Keep me from my deceitful ways… I believe I need to read that verse every day just to remind myself how deceitful “my ways” apart from Him can really be. It’s so easy to view yourself as a good person and look at your “ways” and think you aren’t all that bad. But we’re all sinners that need the mighty power of God to do anything good.
This is how Beth puts it:
“Beloved, we are incapable of agape! No matter how hard we try we cannot exercise this kind of love. We cannot love the unlovely. We cannot love those who do not love us. We cannot love those who have hurt us.
Agape is divine love. It’s only origin is the heart of God. Agape is the love of God expressed through us to others. Actually it is a response more than a feeling.”
Beth puts it something like this: With the power of God we can experience the short or long term JOY of OBEDIENCE (in loving others) and the guaranteed effects of His choosing. This causes a chain reaction of feelings far greater than any fleshly love we could muster. And she’s right. My best friend and I have a relationship that I believe is built on a foundation of agape. We didn’t always “love” each other. Anyone who knows our history can’t even understand how our relationship works. But it does and it’s beautiful because it was orchestrated by God and with His love. Our relationship is a testimony of the power of God’s love through those who act in obedience to Him. And it’s pretty amazing. Not to mention, I know that I definitely want that supernatural kind of love that’s way better than anything I could ever try to “muster” up on my own! God can provide that and praise Him for it!
Beth’s last paragraph says “Agape begins as a response and ends with a feeling”. I love that. You can not love someone and operate entirely off feelings. Love is a choice. And when you choose to love someone with God’s love and His power that feels pretty stinking good. =)