Loving others is how we learn to die to self. It’s what it means to die to self. As we listen to the Spirit, He will show us how.
9 Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
6 Wounds from a friend can be trusted…5 Better is open rebuke [from a friend] than hidden love [withheld guidance–probably because of past experience of getting his hand bitten].
We’ve heard the phrase, “To have a friend, be a friend.” This statement encompasses the ministry of Jesus and is to be our life cause, as well. We as God’s children and Christ’s siblings are to be INITIATORS in friendship–always. Paul called us ambassadors, by which we are to extend the kingdom of Christ to others.
We understand the salvation side of being ambassadors and can tolerate persecution for the sake of the Gospel, but we have a hard time understanding and accepting God’s way of daily witnessing. He wants us to demonstrate His love to others [and each other] the same way Christ did: By dying to self.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
God even gave us a “nursery” in which we can learn and grow and practice dying to self. It’s called the CHURCH. It’s not the actual building, but the people inside the building that are the Church, Christ’s Body, His family.
When the president walks off of Air Force 1 and enters another plane, that plane becomes Air Force 1. Why? Because the president is on it. That’s the way Christ’s church is. When we gather in His name–wherever we are, however we are dressed, whatever circumstances there might be, and whoever we are with–we are the Church, and Christ is manifested among us. People see this phenomenon with spiritual eyes and are either drawn to it or repulsed by it because of their sinful nature–or both! It depends on how they respond to the conviction of the Spirit. Our job is not to convict, but to demonstrate Christ’s love by dying to self and living for Him.
There is a great passage about the Church in Ephesians. Let’s look at it:
Ephesians 3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
God is our Father. Every Christian bears His name.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell [rule, abide] in your hearts through faith.
Christ is our power and our strength. He lives and rules in our hearts. Even though we are wasting away on the outside, we are being renewed on the inside continuously everyday (2 Cor. 4:16).
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people [the Church], to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
The key word here is “together.” We are to experience God’s vast love with and through the body of Christ, the Church. I understand that with extreme opportunity comes extreme risk. Church can be a scary place, but that does NOT excuse us from demonstrating Christ’s love to each other. It merely means that we must lean even harder on Christ to do it.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Christ WILL DO immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, but in His way and in His time, in His circumstances, and according to His will as others respond or react to His conviction. We just have to believe that He IS WORKING to make all of us more like Him. He IS receiving glory from our efforts.
I love the phrase, “throughout all generations.” It helps us focus on the fact that as we teach the next generation about loving Christ by dying to self, we are passing on a generational blessing, by which they may be able to “raise the bar” for their generation and then pass on what they have learned to the next generation, by which they may be able to “raise the bar” for their generation, and so on. Thus, the Church of Christ grows, especially as others are attracted to Him by the way we love each other, and we all are being built together in Him to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit (2:22).
Let’s be about His business today as we die to self and live for Him, demonstrating His love by loving each other.