JOHN SHIRK – People who play tennis think of love as a score of zero or nothing. But in the Biblical view of love, we see that all our efforts amount to nothing without love.
There are different types of love. Today, we are focusing on the type of love known as “Agape” love. It’s the kind of love that God has for us. Agape love is selfless and sacrificial. It’s the kind of love that seeks the well-being of others and is expressed in such a way that it contributes to their well-being. Agape love is not based on feeling, but rather is an act of the will with an attitude that cares.
Agape love is found in the Bible in places like First John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” His love for us is what enables us to love each other. We can love more completely when we are completely receptive to God’s love for us.
Love is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Consideration can be defined by thoughtful concern for others. It can also be described as a sympathetic regard for others. So, with consideration for others, if we see someone in tears or in trouble, we are motivated to pray for them, to comfort them, and to help them in their distress.
Consideration is an expression of God’s love. Jesus is the ultimate example. He saw the crowds and had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He saw a world that was in need of forgiveness. He came to the world, and in consideration of our greatest need, He died on a rugged cross.
James 3 tells us that the wisdom that comes from above is considerate. On a practical level, consideration involves observing the golden rule: doing to others what we would have them do to us.
Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” That is the way of Jesus.
Consideration is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – To be teachable is to be willing to learn. With a teachable spirit, we recognize that we have room for growth and to become more fully mature. We might not be what we once were, and are thankful to God for how far He has brought us. However, we are also in process to become more like Jesus in His character.
There are some foundational qualities essential to being teachable. It will take humility, openness to God’s instruction and counsel through His Word, and willingness to accept God’s authority over us as our Teacher.
In Luke 6:40, Jesus said, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” When Jesus offers lessons of faith, we are very wise to pay attention to His words.
He will sometimes speak through godly leaders to instruct us. A teachable spirit will involve openness to the input of a pastor or an elder. First Peter 5:5 says, “Young men, in the same way, be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.”
A teachable spirit is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Fortitude can be defined by having a strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage.
There is a mental toughness that is willing to fight through pain for a noble purpose. There are many examples of fortitude in the Bible.
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo were willing to face the blazing furnace rather than bow to a false god. Daniel was willing to be thrown into the lion’s den rather than stop praying to God. The Apostles were willing to face persecution rather than to stop talking about Jesus. Fortitude is also found in the Apostle Paul’s words in Acts 20:22. He said this: “And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.” With fortitude, we are compelled by the Spirit to choose faithfulness over comfort.
Fortitude is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Contentment can be described as being in a place of satisfaction. Some kinds of contentment are harmful, such as being content in a comfort zone that refuses to reach out to others in need. However, godly contentment means that our soul is satisfied in Christ. The cravings of material things do not control us. The Jones’s don’t have what we need to be ultimately fulfilled. Jesus does. The righteousness of Christ fills us and satisfies the hunger of our soul. The result is peace in our heart as the love of God makes our joy complete.
Godly contentment is a quality that we probably learn over time as our relationship with God grows. The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” First Timothy 6:6 reminds us where the profitable place for the soul can be found. “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” There is no greater joy than to be captivated by the love of God.
Godly Contentment is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Hospitality can be defined by a generous or cordial reception of guests. Another way of looking at the heart of hospitality is “love of strangers.”
First Peter 4:9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” The love of Christ will be expressed to strangers in the outreach of a cheerful heart. The New Living Translation says it this way: “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”
There are some practical ways to live this verse out. Look for ways to reach out to a new neighbor. We can welcome them to the neighborhood by taking them a meal or just dropping by to introduce ourselves. If a person visits our church, we can invite them to eat dinner with us. Another idea is to set up a guest room for missionaries or others who travel a lot. Hosting a foreign exchange student or foster parenting can be seen as a form of hospitality. We can also be considerate of those who live alone and invite them to spend a holiday with us. There is great potential to make new friends when we are compelled by God’s love to extend ourselves in these ways.
What are some ways that you have reached out with hospitality or been blessed by the hospitality of others?
Being hospitable is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Commitment can be defined by a pledge or promise to do something.
God’s love is what motivates Christian commitment. Without His love in the equation, commitments would easily turn into legalism. With God’s love as the prime motivator, we gladly give our lives to the cause of the Gospel. We are compelled by God’s love to do God’s will, and to finish what He started in us. In the course of pursuing our commitments, we can expect opposition and hardship, just like Jesus did. In Hebrews 12:3, we are challenged to “consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men”, so that we will not grow weary and lose heart. Our incentive to serve God will increase when we keep our focus on Jesus, who was faithful to carry out His rescue mission on our behalf. In view of His death for us, we have a reason to live for Him.
Psalm 76:11 says, “Make vows to the LORD your God and fulfill them.”
Commitment is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Meditation can be defined as focusing one’s thoughts on; to reflect or ponder over. Biblically, it means taking a passage of Scripture and chewing it over for a while.
Psalm 1:2 describes the man who is blessed as someone whose “delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.”
Meditation includes thinking, remembering, understanding, and living out what we have learned. Throughout the day, we are wise to think about life’s instructions that God has given us, and then live them out. The best focus for our thoughts is Jesus, who lived a sinless life, and is full of grace and truth.
A meditative mind is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Today is an opportunity to grow toward Christ by being clothed with reflection.
One definition of “reflection” is something like a light or image that is reflected. Another definition of “reflect” is to make manifest or to show. That is interesting, because the Bible calls us to be reflectors of Jesus. He is the light of the world, and He calls us to be the light of the world. We are not the source of light. He is. And so, as we reflect the light of Jesus to the world through our words, actions, and attitudes, we are giving others the opportunity to have an encounter with Jesus. That is because we are shining light for Him, rather than for ourselves. Vonette Bright says, “That’s our mission, dear friend: to be a reflection of Jesus in the same way He’s a reflection of the Father.”
In Matthew 5:16, Jesus said, “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” With the talents, skills, and resources that God has given you along with the people He has placed in your life, those are opportunities to reflect the light of His love so that others might be moved to glorify God.
Reflection is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – Today is an opportunity to grow toward Christ by being clothed with loyalty.
Loyalty is characterized by faithfulness to commitments, vows, and allegiance.
Dogs are known for various characteristics. One of their more lovable reputations is their loyalty to their owner. That is one lesson we can learn from dogs-to be loyal to our Owner.
In our relationship with God, loyalty can be described by having an undivided heart. We don’t serve two masters. With a loyal heart, we are fully committed to Jesus, and desire to serve Him. We are responsive to His Word, receptive to His grace, and respectful of His authority over us. In response to His loving leadership, loyalty gives us a single purpose to be an instrument of God’s grace in the world.
Oswald Chambers writes that “the idea is not that we do our work for God, but that we are so loyal to Him that He can do His work through us.” Before King David died, he prayed in First Chronicles 29 that God would keep the hearts of the people loyal to God. That can be our prayer for the church today, so that the name of Jesus would be distinctly honored by a unified body of undivided hearts.
Loyalty is a character quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.