This is the burning question I suppose. Do you allow your heart to be burdened with delivering the love of Christ into the world? I believe that Christ has asked for that to be our burden and for us to carry it willingly and intentionally. Well, do you?
When In Romans
Often in our culture when someone dies, a family member or close companion will make a statement about carrying out the late person’s legacy. Or we often hear the saying, “his legacy will live on”. I think of people who have left a tangible legacy, such as fighting to find a cure for a disease. Jerry Lewis, the renowned actor and comedian, year after year continues to raise awareness and raise money for finding a cure and treatments for Muscular Dystrophy. When Jerry is no longer with us, he will long be remembered for and associated with this great cause. Working tirelessly with firm conviction and an unwavering commitment to conquer the disease will long be something he is remembered for; a significant piece of his legacy, and most likely someone else will lovingly continue to carry that on. I site Mr. Lewis as a general example just to point out that he is someone absolutely creating a legacy that will be carried out for a long time, if not forever. In this example he is one advocate and one voice for one very specific cause. MD is just one of thousands of diseases and despite how very well publicized it is, MD is considered to be a very rare disease. In other words it doesn’t impact a large number of people. According to 2012 data from RightDiagnosis.com, MD is only diagnosed in 1 out of every 544,000 people. So a very rare disease has a very massive awareness because of a legacy that one man is building and the momentum he has started will continue long after he has gone. If a cure is ever found, it will save the lives of 1 out of every 544,000 people.
Now, let us look at the life of Jesus again. He spent His entire ministry loving others and teaching others how to love others. Then in the ultimate act of love, He died for us and in doing so He made a way for our transgressions to be covered by His love. He taught, modeled and commanded that we love others … and the measure by which evidence is determined to satisfy that we walk in Him or we don’t, is whether or not we obey this command. His legacy is love, and this love has the power to impact every single one of us because each of us has been infected with the not so rare condition of sin. Every one of us should hope to die with love being our legacy, the thing that people most remember us for. We should be able to leave a trail of love because God has made it possible for us to have access to an abundance of it. Romans 5:5 reminds us
“... because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” If this is true of us, and God says it is, then we have no excuse.
Romans 12:9-21 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written “It is mine to avenge; I will repay” says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
This incredibly detailed description of love is not just an instruction; it works well as a “how to”. And this is how we can reshape our understanding of what love is and how to accomplish it for the glory of Christ. I can accomplish love when I keep my spiritual fervor. You can accomplish love when you practice hospitality. We accomplish love when we refuse to retaliate against persecution. And one of my very favorites, we accomplish the command to love when we share with people who are in need. Oh that this should be our legacy indeed.
Love, for the Day is Near
Romans 13:8-10 “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is fulfillment of the law.” Let love rule!
A couple of things really strike me as interesting in this scripture segment. First, did the apostle Paul really say “and whatever other commandment there may be” as if he didn’t know all ten of them? It feels to me like he may have been rattling things off rapidly in such a way as to indicate something like this (my words) “Hey, I could give you a gigantic list of what not to do to uphold the law.... don’t do this, don’t do that and the other, but it all basically just comes down to this one thing: Love. If you’ll just love the way that Jesus taught us to, you don’t have to worry about that big long list of what not to do”. Paul taught 2,000 years ago something that many Christians continue to this very day to get backwards. To honor God, we don’t need a list of behaviors to avoid; we just need to follow the instruction to love. To hell with lists! (Hint: say that out loud. It feels so good.) Put a little love in your pocket and never leave home without it, because in debt to love one another, we always owe someone at least a morsel and we should never be caught empty-handed without some love to spare.
Love fulfills the law. According to these words, love makes everything right. Love rights wrongs. As we have seen woven through the pages of God’s word, love covers a multitude of sins. Love blinds God with its glaring beauty! Yes, people … let us hurt His eyes and make Him weep for joy. Let us bless Him so greatly with the love he has poured into us that He would snatch us up, seat us facing Him in His lap and drench our faces with His glorious kisses. And let’s heal the world of darkness and evil while we’re at it.
Oh Father, burden me with love for the lost. Weigh me down with ointment, salve and your miracle cure for the wounded. Give strength to the legs, backs and hearts that carry heavy loads of love to those who are depleted. Strengthen us to bandage the wounds that threaten to bleed out. And Lord, etch the description of Romans love in our hearts. Lead us with water to quench the thirst of our enemies, open our doors to the downtrodden, steer us from revenge and cover us with Your love that endures forever. Yes, Jesus. Amen.