“We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” 1 John 4:6-8
The Apostle John referred to himself in his writings as the disciple whom Jesus loved. He knew, above all things, especially himself, that nothing mattered but the love of God. By the love of God were we created. By the love of God were we, and are we, allowed to make our own choices. By the love of God were we, and are we, given consequences for the bad choices. By the love of God were we redeemed on that old rugged Cross, and by the love of God are we filled and empowered to live this life properly.
John knew that without the love of God, he was nothing but a sinner. Without God, he would have led a poor life of a succession of bad choices, most likely harming himself and those around him. And so, he chose to honor that by never referring to himself by name, but only by that which mattered most, being loved by God.
Of course, it was the manifestation of Jesus as Man that gave John this revelation. God gave him the love, and God gave him the ability to recognize the love given. This same God, by the same Spirit, gave the same revelation to the Apostle Paul, long after John received it and long after Jesus ascended back to Heaven.
In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul addressed this very thing. In what is marked as chapter twelve, Paul disseminated the gifts of the Spirit and explained that not every man gets the same gifts, nor do they function in the same way, but they are all by the same Spirit, that being God, the Holy Ghost. He explained the proper actions of the use of the gifts of the Spirit, and how the Body of Christ functions as One, all gifts working together in harmony. Then, in what is marked as chapter thirteen, he explained how the use of the gifts, and how the good things that are done, if not done in love, are done in vain, for nothing. We all see that it is a heart issue, but deeper still, it is a “self” issue.
Both apostles knew that God is love. If God is love, and Paul wrote that we cannot truly do the works of God without love, then what he said is this: we cannot do the works of God without God.
In all of his ways, Paul followed after the Spirit, and did as the Spirit instructed, going where the Spirit led, not going where the Spirit wouldn’t allow, speaking when and where the Spirit directed him. In doing so, the Gentiles were greatly blessed through him and many were converted to Christ and the spread of the church was begun in Antioch. From there, the gospel spread through the Middle East and Europe, and then around the world.
Knowing how Paul walked with The Lord, listening to every guiding Word, allowing the Spirit freedom to move in him and through him to do the work of God, we can see he was not just talking about how to live this Christian life. He was exhibiting it. If God is love, then the love that is given must be in everything we say and do. We must bring all things to The Lord and ask of Him what to say, what to do, where to go, who to talk to, who to give to, and what to do, always. If we are surrendered completely to Him, He will use us for the kingdom, for His glory.
Anything we do for God, must be led by God to do first, and must be done by God through us, otherwise, we are merely doing a useless exercise that will only bring glory to ourselves. That is why it becomes a “self” issue. We must remove ourselves from all things, as the apostles did, as John did in his writings. We should never expect praise for the things we have done for God. We should never expect recompense, not even a “thank you.” Just as Christ sacrificed and was reviled, so should we expect nothing greater. We should be doing all things for His glory alone, and the only way that happens is when we allow God, Who is love, to flow freely through us, as though we weren’t really there.
God is love, so love one another and do all things in love toward one another. Let God move through us and bless all around us and one another. In His inexhaustible love, my brothers and sisters, do I write this for you, and for myself, for our edification as One Body.
May His Love flow unto us, over us, and through us all today and everyday.
In His Love…