True Vine Part Two
John 15:8-11 ESV
Luke 6:37b ESV
John 15:12-17 ESV
Our ultimate goal is to Live IN and share God’s love. When we live in God’s Love from the vine, the natural outpouring will be to share God’s love with others.
According to your gifts, the gifts given to you by the Spirit of God, you will naturally share the love of God. That doesn’t necessarily mean you will speak to others about God (unless that’s your gift).
If your spiritual gift is helps, you will help others.
If your spiritual gift is service, you will serve.
If your spiritual gift is administration you will organize.
As we each naturally utilize our spiritual gifts, we will share parts of God with others.
John 15:8-11 tells us, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The fruit, our fruit of the vine will glorify God as we love others.
Realistically loving others would not be complete without forgiveness. In Luke 6:37b Jesus taught, “forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
Through the years the most difficult issue I have personally faced is being kind and loving others who reject kindest and love. I have struggled to forgive someone who doesn’t accept a kindness offered. I still forgive but I don’t understand.
I have struggled when others believed they had the right to tell me how to raise my children. Most of the time it was about my decision to let one of my kids wear shorts to church in August, or to let my daughter wear pants (it was before the turn of the century).
As I read scripture, the reason for offering our forgiveness is not contingent on what was said or done. Forgiving is a clear cut issue. Forgive and you will be forgiven. I had to learn how to forgive.
Thankfully, because I struggled with forgiveness and prayed (a lot) about it, I came to realize that scriptural forgiveness is not about a feeling. How I feel about the other person is not an issue. Speaking the words to God, “I forgive them” is what God requires. I learned that once I tell God I forgive them, it turns the issue over to God.
Until we speak the words to God saying we forgive, God will not intervene. In other words, God’s intervention is contingent on our release.
God will not force us. We have to give God permission.
In John 15:12-17 Jesus expands on the meaning of the commandment, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
Jesus loves us and gave up His life for us because of His great love and forgiveness.
When we are connected to the vine, we produce fruit. Here, Jesus repeated the promise He made in John 15:7. He promised that whatever we ask in the name of Jesus, He will do it.
Whatever we ask.
Love one another.
Years ago there was a woman who spoke hurtful controlling comments about one of my children. She was angry that one of my sons would not be close friends with her son. Her son was two years younger than my son. I prayed about it and watched how my son interacted with her son. My son was not mean or rude to him but he simply had his own friends his own age. They were all headed off the college soon and they were making their first big life choice decision.
I chose to ignore her hurtful comments and forgive her.
I also chose not to ask my son befriend someone two years younger.
I asked God if HE wanted a friendship to grow, the Spirit would make that happen. It did not.
Truthfully, at that point I had been in church ministry for 20 years and many people had tried to control my children by telling me what they should be doing. Even though our main salary was paid by the church, that did not give anyone the right to control every situation. This wasn’t a question of how they behaved. This was a question of who they chose to befriend.
I didn’t give in to her attempt control the situation. I simply surrendered her to God and I forgave her. I spoke words of forgiveness to God and I left the matter in God’s hands.
I asked Jesus to help me to love her.
That was my request.
I don’t believe that loving one another is easy but with God’s help we can love each other.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Love
Love someone you struggle to love. Ask God for help. If you need to forgive that person, speak the words “I forgive _____.”
In God, Deborah