by JoAnn McFatter
It seems that so often when we think of walking by the Spirit we think of the supernatural aspect of doing so. That is especially true these days when that is the draw for so many people to gather together to be amazed, whether it be at conferences or on the streets. While that is a part of life in the Spirit, to move in the same fashion as Jesus Christ while He was here on earth, that really is just a byproduct of possessing the Spirit of God within. Abilities such as walking on water, changing water to wine, passing through a crowd in a way that He was there one moment and gone the next, healing disease and raising the dead are just a few of the more popular examples He left us with when He said we would do even greater works than these.
However, He also warned us that seeking these things would not be to our advantage, telling us to seek His face and not His hand. In other words, seek the Giver of the gifts rather than the gifts themselves, but not to the point that we ignore them. Time and time again we have heard this, though I wonder if it’s really ever gotten through…..selah. At best we vacillate in our awareness.
My point is, there is a way to live this life in this end time that involves all of it! It involves opening the depths of the Word, meditation, communion with Him, signs and wonders, extravagant giving, opening the mysteries of God that have been saved for this dispensation in time, worship that breaks the barrier between heaven and earth, angels and people ascending and descending, massive salvation of souls……. I could go on and on but we have all heard it so many times.
We know it all has to do with faith as Jesus, Himself, told us that even faith as a mustard seed would be enough to say to a mountain be moved and it would obey. To walk by the Spirit in all that is summed up by that phrase takes trust in Him that we really can move from having faith in God to that place where we move in the faith OF God. It must be out of a place of revelation of who He really is in us. It’s all so amazing and stimulating to our spirit man when we dwell on the possibilities that lay before us. Of course, Jesus Christ is our supreme example of walking by the Spirit as He was fully man and fully God, leaving us a blueprint for walking life out by the Spirit in its fullest expression.
BUT……………. He also tells is that in ALL of this, the greatest of these is love. One of the most powerful things said to us by Jesus’ very lips was that above everything we were to love Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The more we know Him, the more we love Him. But He didn’t stop there, as He continued by saying ….; and to love your neighbor as yourself. He said there were no greater ones than these. When the scribe questioning him agreed, Jesus made an interesting statement to him by saying that he was close to the Kingdom of God.
THEN ONE OF THE SCRIBES CAME, AND HAVING HEARD THEM REASONING TOGETHER, PERCEIVING THAT HE HAD ANSWERED THEM WELL, ASKED HIM, ” WHICH IS THE FIRST COMMANDMENT OF ALL?” JESUS ANSWERED HIM, ” THE FIRST OF ALL THE COMMANDMENTS IS: ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL, THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE. AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’ THIS IS THE FIRST COMMANDMENT. AND THE SECOND LIKE IT, IS THIS: ” YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. THERE IS NO OTHER COMMANDMENT GREATER THAN THESE.”
SO THE SCRIBE SAID TO HIM, “WELL SAID, TEACHER. YOU HAVE SPOKEN THE TRUTH, FOR THERE IS ONE GOD, AND THERE IS NO OTHER BUT HE. AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART, WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING, WITH ALL THE SOUL, AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS ONESELF, IS MORE THAN ALL THE WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND SACRIFICES.” NOW WHEN JESUS SAW THAT HE ANSWERED WISELY, HE SAID TO HIM, ” YOU ARE NOT FAR FROM THE KINGDOM OF GOD.” MARK 12:28-34
What amazing revelation from this scribe, this one full of wisdom and living beyond his dispensation of time, displayed; that of love surpassing all the rest, even to the point of overtaking the burnt offerings and sacrifices. Jesus said that very revelation put him ‘not far from’ the Kingdom of God even BEFORE the full revelation had been revealed.
Out of all the things we are admonished to go after and possess, again, the greatest of these is love. We, of course, all know I Corinthians 13. We are told that if we have all the gifts and abilities that walking in the Spirit entitles us to but we don’t love, it’s all just noise. So of all the things God is going to pour out in these last days by His Spirit, love would have to be at the top of the list. The Spirit without measure would bring love without measure. A revelation of love that will rock both our world and the world around us!
In these days of uncertainty and want we must remember love. Wisdom would have us asking for the grace to love unconditionally, that we might be moved with the same compassion that Jesus worked miracles from. More than once it is said He was moved with compassion and healed someone. God IS love! His Spirit is referred to as The Comforter. As things shift all around us we must remember love. It’s easy to love when everything is going well for us just as it is easy to give in a time of abundance. I believe one of the most difficult things to be an overcomer in is our tendency for self preservation in the midst of crisis, unfortunately, to the point of gathering to ourselves all that we can even at the expense of others.
It’s almost humorous that when we thought Y2K was going to be some big deal that everyone hoarded things for themselves in preparation with the purpose of taking care of the proverbial ‘ us four and no more ‘ mentality. Some were even buying guns to hold off the masses from getting what they had so wisely stored up. And while we can appreciate the wisdom of preparing in the years of plenty for the years of lack, we have to ask ourselves what would we do if our neighbor was not so well prepared.
Maybe they didn’t have the money to store up or perhaps they just didn’t see it coming. My question is would we actually refuse others food, drink, or even shelter for that matter in that hour? As if in His love we could say no to another in need. He put the example out there of the widow who gave her last to the prophet and then, and only then, did she receive more than she could imagine.
As we ponder this place of walking by the Spirit in all the interesting and stimulating things it has to offer, we must first and foremost remember love, for without it, all of our effort is null and void. To walk by the Spirit is to prefer others. To walk by the Spirit is to think of others more highly than ourselves – not in some funky religious mindset, but truly caring for them first and then ourselves. Believe me, as I write this I am painfully aware of my own shortcomings in this way of living life – this way of Love that is so foreign to our culture. As we seek to overcome adversity and keep our faith we must hold onto love above all else.
Our American mindset would send someone down to the mission shelter before opening our home to them. We can’t deny it. Our first thought is how are we going to feed our family for the next four months, rather than to share this day what we have with ones who don’t have today. Seriously……are we going to pull our guns out to say no, you can’t have our food even though you are starving? God help us all!
THO I SPEAK WITH THE TONGUES OF ANGELS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, I HAVE BECOME SOUNDING BRASS OR A CLANGING CYMBAL. AND THOUGH I HAVE THE GIFT OF PROPHECY, AND UNDERSTAND ALL MYSTERIES AND ALL KNOWLEDGE, AND THOUGH I HAVE ALL FAITH, SO THAT I COULD REMOVE MOUNTAINS, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE I AM NOTHING. AND THOUGH I BESTOW ALL MY GOODS TO FEED THE POOR, AND THOUGH I GIVE MY BODY TO BE BURNED, BUT HAVE NOT LOVE, IT PROFITS ME NOTHING.
LOVE SUFFERS LONG AND IS KIND; LOVE DOES NOT ENVY; LOVE DOES NOT PARADE ITSELF, IS NOT PUFFED UP; DOES NOT BEHAVE RUDELY, DOES NOT SEEK ITS OWN, IS NOT PROVOKED, THINKS NO EVIL; DOES NOT REJOICE IN INIQUITY, BUT REJOICES IN THE TRUTH; BEARS ALL THINGS, BELIEVES ALL THINGS, HOPES ALL THINGS, ENDURES ALL THINGS.
LOVE NEVER FAILS. BUT WHETHER THERE ARE PROPHECIES, THEY WILL FAIL; WHETHER THERE ARE TONGUES, THEY WILL CEASE; WHETHER THERE IS KNOWLEDGE, IT WILL VANISH AWAY. FOR WE KNOW IN PART AND WE PROPHESY IN PART. BUT WHEN THAT WHICH IS PERFECT HAS COME, THEN THAT WHICH IS IN PART WILL BE DONE AWAY. WHEN I WAS A CHILD, I SPOKE AS A CHILD, I UNDERSTOOD AS A CHILD, I THOUGHT AS A CHILD; BUT WHEN I BECAME A MAN, I PUT AWAY CHILDISH THINGS. FOR NOW WE SEE IN A MIRROR, DIMLY, BUT THEN FACE TO FACE. NOW I KNOW IN PART, BUT THEN I SHALL KNOW JUST AS I ALSO AM KNOWN.
AND NOW ABIDE FAITH, HOPE, LOVE, THESE THREE; BUT THE GREATEST OF THESE IS LOVE. 1CORINTHIANS 13
What more can be said, other than to know Him is to love Him. To love Him is to love those that He loves. For God so loved the WHOLE world that He gave His only begotten Son………Perfect love casts out all fear. To walk by the Spirit is to walk in Love.