Compelled by Love
The evidence of a transformed life is love. Do you love God and others? Life is all about love. We know that God is love, and the most important lesson He wants us to learn on earth is how to love. His love compels us to reach others with His love and compassion.
In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus lists the two most important commandments:
Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Do these commandments seem impossible? Humanly speaking, they are! We can’t love others until we can receive God’s love for ourselves. After learning to love and worship God, learning to love others is the second purpose in your life. So, how do we begin our walk of love?
Yielding to the Holy Spirit
We must yield to the Holy Spirit. You see, it’s not that we first loved God; rather, He first loved us. His Holy Spirit pursues us with His love. God is relentless in His love and pursuit of us. His love redefines us, His love transforms us, His love motivates us.
We simply aren’t the same after we truly encounter the love of God through Christ. His love gives us a new identity, it changes us into His image & character, and it burns within us to reach others for Him. We can’t even love God apart from His Spirit and grace working in our hearts drawing us to him.
His eyes scan the earth looking for those who are yielding their hearts completely to Him – He promises to show Himself strong through them (2 Chr. 16:9). Strong in His love, strong in His presence, strong in His delivering power – all manifested and available to us through Jesus.
The same Spirit that empowers us to receive God’s love then empowers us to love others.
“…the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” (Rom. 5:5)
Also in 2 Cor. 5:14-15:
For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
His love empowers us to love others and to reach them with God’s love and power. Our faith is working through love and is demonstrated by acts of love. Faith is demonstrated through works.
Redefined and Transformed by His Love
Let’s look at the woman in Luke 7, sometimes referred to as the Sinful Woman. (She is most likely Mary Magdalene but we aren’t certain.)
She comes uninvited and pours an alabaster flask of fragrant oil on His feet. She then proceeds to wash his feet with her hair. It was shameful for women at that time to let their hair down, and yet she does. Simon the Pharisee thinks to himself, “Jesus can’t be a prophet. Otherwise He would know this woman’s character.” Yet, he is the one with the poor hospitality.
In the culture of that day it was customary to greet the person with a kiss, provide a basin of water to wash their feet, and offer olive oil to anoint the hair and freshen up. Simon didn’t have much love for Jesus, let alone common courtesy. He is the one guilty of poor hospitality, which was as much a social blunder as the woman’s letting down her hair. Simon couldn’t recognize the emptiness of his own heart nor did he appreciate God’s generous love through Jesus—even when He is sitting at the table.
Is Jesus Sitting at Our Table?
How often have we neglected Jesus sitting at our table? The church and the world are full of hurting people—who is your neighbor? Perhaps it is the single mother in the congregation who is struggling? Perhaps the widow who is still grieving? Maybe the father who has lost his job, to0 ashamed to ask others for help, even for prayer? Perhaps a teenager struggling, in need of a mentor? Maybe a couple sitting in church, their marriage falling apart, desperately needing help to save it? Maybe the homeless person we quickly pass by on the street corner?
What does love look like? 1 Cor. 13:4-8 NLT tells us,
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love never fails.
Simply stated, love is selfless, never tires, and never quits. Love goes the extra mile and it begins in our marriages, families, and church family.
1 John 4:7 states, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
True faith happens when someone looks at Jesus and discovers God’s love and forgiveness; the sign and proof of this faith is a love that responds, that acts.
This woman, whom I will assume is Mary, is changed. Why? She appreciates God’s generous love for her and attempts to repay Jesus for what He has done for her – she loves because she has been forgiven. She has discovered God’s love and forgiveness, and the proof of her faith is a passionate love shown toward Jesus.
Compelled by Love
The Pharisee, compared to this woman was perhaps righteous, yet was unable to receive God’s love. His heart wasn’t transformed by God’s love. But, Jesus loved him just as much and wanted to draw him close. The man chose his level of love with Christ. How many of us are like this man? Our hearts are cold to Jesus, or perhaps they once were on fire for Him, only to grow cold over time.
Now move to Luke 8:1-3.
Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.
Mary Magdalene is most likely the woman we just read about in Luke 7. She wouldn’t leave His side. She’s been transformed by His love. Mary had received healing and deliverance from the Lord—her relationship started from a place of oppression and desperate need, and moved into a place of desperate love.
Often our journey of intimacy begins from a place of great need or brokenness. As we grow in God, He is inviting us to a deeper level of relationship based out of desire for Him, not simply our need. However, many of us are not deeply broken. It’s still up to us to respond to His love and allow that love to transform us, because in truth, each of us have been forgiven much.
The Pursuit of the Intimate Knowledge of God
To really love and know God and His ways requires an intimate knowledge of Him. This only comes through spending time with Him. Only hearts that have been redefined and transformed by His love are able to do this. An intentional pursuit of knowing God as a friend moves us beyond superficial worship and discipleship into a realm of God’s glorious presence.
Mary and these other women traveled and ministered with Jesus. Their love and gratitude were demonstrated in being with Him, loving His presence and by helping to spread the good news of the Kingdom.
When our hearts are ravished by the love of God, we want to worship Him, be with Him and to help serve Him by reaching others! This is what it means to be compelled by love.
How can we keep our hearts ablaze for God?
While there is no mathematical formula we can follow, the concept of laying down our life for God daily yields an intimacy and a power to keep burning for him. Here are some principles to keep in mind:
1) Give God your heart. Surrender to God and let His love transform you.
2) Give God the first part of every day: Prayer, Worship, and read His Word.
3) Give God the first day of every week. Rest in the Lord and worship corporately.
4) Give God the first part of all your income and time (increase will follow).
5) Give God consideration on every decision you make. “Not my will Lord, but your will.”
6) Give God first place in all areas of your life; be willing to love and serve others.
7) Be Compelled by His Love.
May you be truly transformed by His love, and compelled to share it wherever you go!
For a more in-depth look at this topic, watch the Passion Church message, “Compelled by Love”