The Power of Lament for the Marginalized: A Sermon for Empowerment

Yesterday, Dec. 12th, I was able to share my final project in my Intro to Old Testament class. The entire semester we have been working on a paper that explored a text of our choice. The project was an opportunity for us to bring it to life in today's society.

My paper focused on Jeremiah and the role lament played for marginalized communities. For my project I thought it was only appropriate to explore what a lament may have looked like for those groups in Jeremiah 9 that had to cope with societal destruction in addition to their daily oppression. 

My inspiration came from Kendrick Lamar's song, "We Gon Be Alright." Thus, the name of my sermon is We Gon Be Alright. I have provided the transcript below the video. Thank you for your continuous prayers and support of my journey. I only hope to share all that is shown to me! God Bless!

We Gon Be Alright

Text: Jeremiah 9: 23-26

23 Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; 24 but let those who boast, boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord.
25 The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will attend to all those who are circumcised only in the foreskin: 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the Ammonites, Moab, and all those with shaven temples who live in the desert. For all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.

In Jeremiah 9 we encounter a tale of privilege and oppression. The children of Israel have used their covenant and privilege to justify the oppression of the marginalized living in Judah. Yahweh sees the unjust actions of those who claim to be his children, and gives Jeremiah one of the darkest death prophecies we see in this text. After damning Judah to death and destruction, he orders the women to come mourn and teach a lament. And in the final verses that were read, we hear God say that he is going to judge Israel as they have judged and mistreated the marginalized within their community.

I can only speculate what the marginalized groups in Jeremiah were thinking once they heard that more death and destruction were coming their way. I can imagine that if they were to raise up a lament in that moment, it would share a similar sentiment to the lyrics of Kendrick Lamar's We Gon Be Alright.

Alls my life I has to fight,
Hard times like God
Bad trips like: "God!"
Nazareth, If I'm messed up
Homie you messed up
But if God got us then we gon' be alright

Lamar starts off his song referencing one of the most popular and powerful lines from the Color Purple delivered by the character Mrs. Sophia, “ALL MY LIFE I HAS TO FIGHT.” His intro perfectly captures the despair, the frustration, and pain of marginalized groups trying to survive. But also in the same phase of despair, Lamar says, “But if God got us then we gon’ be alright.” 

The marginalized in Jeremiah 9 had to be thinking the same thing. They had publicly heard God denounce Israel for its poor communal values and the oppression of their people. So while there was no sight of good things to come, they were aware that God stood on their side and against injustice.
Going back to Lamar’s song, as he progresses his lyrics began to evolve from a place of despair to a voice of empowerment as he recounts some of the most traumatic injustices experienced by blacks in America.

Wouldn’t you know, we been hurt, been down before,
When my pride was low, lookin’ at the world like, “where do we go?”
And we hate Popo, when they kill us dead in the street for sure,
I’m at the preacher’s door
My knees getting’ weak and my gun might blow but we gon’ be alright

The people of the marginalized nations that Yahweh mentioned in this text knew hardship. They were familiar with the lament of low places and death. From the ancestors of Hagar, to the Moabites who were discriminated against early on, survival and overcoming the depression of oppression was no new challenge. And although the anger may have never subdued from their mistreatment, in this moment through Jeremiah’s prophecy, they came to know God as one of justice and righteousness.

I can hear them chanting in their waking up “We Gon be Alright.” In their daily living, “We Gon Be Alright.” In their crying out of the injustices carried out against them, “We Gon Be Alright.” In the denial of recognition from Israel, “We Gon Be Alright.”

We see ourselves in the marginalized groups in Jeremiah 9 because they shared the same fight we’re still battling today. If anything we should look at these groups in Jeremiah and the lyrics to Lamar’s song and realize that our hope should never rely on the means of the offenders to bring justice, but the constant factors that have always showed up and showed out: 1. God, and 2. Community.

We are not wrong for feeling the anger and despair we experience. We don’t deserve to be treated less-than the majority. And most importantly, God does not agree with these actions and communal lifestyles, and he stands in support of the marginalized.

So as times seem to get darker with no sight of improvement in future, remember we’ve been here before. The things that were intended for our death as a people, failed. It doesn’t take away from the sting of life, but we know how to survive this. It is in our blood, our ancestry, and as long as we stay together as a community and fight injustice together, “We Gon Be Alright.”

To the innocent incarcerated brother, “We Gon be Alright,” to the sistas stepping up on the front lines to be the movement fighting for change and the vessel of healing within our communities, “We Gon be Alright,” To my LGBTQ brothers and sisters continuously fighting to be accepted and respected for who they are, not who they are expected to be, “We Gon Be Alright,” To the allies willing to fight against the evils of the privileged and stand with the marginalized, “We Gon be Alright,” To the black and brown bodies walking in fear of being the next hashtag while still fighting to survive in this world, “We Gon be Alright.”

We may have to live through the destruction of this world, but we are not damned to be succumbed by it. God has got us! Do you hear me? Can you feel me? We Gon Be Alright!


Realizations in a Time of Suffering, Injustice & Revolution

As I prepare for bed, these were the final thoughts that ran through my head about our current times.

We all have a role to play, and it's not to tear down anyone taking a stand in their call and fighting for the cause. No a change and revolution isn't going to happen with marching alone or prayer alone. It requires a cohesive unit individually functioning in their call and collectively working with intention towards the cause of equity, justice, and human rights.

I know my role I'm a healer. That's why I do everything in my strength to create spaces for people to grieve, work through trauma, and heal. There is not a bone in my body not capable of doing so. I dare not slander any other role, because God knows I don't have the strength and power to carry those things out, but my sisters and brothers that do... I commend you!

The fighter is there to be the strength and resistance when most can't, the activist is there to be the voice when we feel too stifled, the teacher is there to educate and pass on the legacy and charge of this never ending work, the writer is there to document truth and history so we never forget! There are so many more roles that I couldn't cover if I wanted to.

What's not going to work is criticism of any of these callings because they all matter and they all have impact. I encourage everyone to find your place and step BOLDLY in it. Find what makes you feel alive, comes naturally and is a part of who you are. Step into that greatness and donate it to the cause. We need every willing spirit to step up to plate. Find your place and ground yourself firmly in it! Take your place and stop allowing others to dictate your footsteps that they'll never walk! Lead from your place so that others see it's possible! And make sure you give back so that the cycle NEVER ends.

It's time to take our rightful places in this world and fight the hell we are faced with daily, but we have to respect each other and allow each person to bring their gifts to the table.

Don't place a basket over your flame. Burn and let no man put you out. The time is now...

1 Corinthians 12The Message (MSG)

Spiritual Gifts
12 1-3 What I want to talk about now is the various ways God’s Spirit gets worked into our lives. This is complex and often misunderstood, but I want you to be informed and knowledgeable. Remember how you were when you didn’t know God, led from one phony god to another, never knowing what you were doing, just doing it because everybody else did it? It’s different in this life. God wants us to use our intelligence, to seek to understand as well as we can. For instance, by using your heads, you know perfectly well that the Spirit of God would never prompt anyone to say “Jesus be damned!” Nor would anyone be inclined to say “Jesus is Master!” without the insight of the Holy Spirit.

4-11 God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! The variety is wonderful:

wise counsel
clear understanding
simple trust
healing the sick
miraculous acts
distinguishing between spirits
interpretation of tongues.
All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when.

12-13 You can easily enough see how this kind of thing works by looking no further than your own body. Your body has many parts—limbs, organs, cells—but no matter how many parts you can name, you’re still one body. It’s exactly the same with Christ. By means of his one Spirit, we all said good-bye to our partial and piecemeal lives. We each used to independently call our own shots, but then we entered into a large and integrated life in which he has the final say in everything. (This is what we proclaimed in word and action when we were baptized.) Each of us is now a part of his resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive.

14-18 I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, limpid and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.

19-24 But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honor just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair?

25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

27-31 You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. You’re familiar with some of the parts that God has formed in his church, which is his “body”:

miracle workers
those who pray in tongues.
But it’s obvious by now, isn’t it, that Christ’s church is a complete Body and not a gigantic, unidimensional Part? It’s not all Apostle, not all Prophet, not all Miracle Worker, not all Healer, not all Prayer in Tongues, not all Interpreter of Tongues. And yet some of you keep competing for so-called “important” parts.

But now I want to lay out a far better way for you.


Life in Love Means No More FEAR

1 John 4:17-19 The Message (MSG)

To Love, to Be Loved
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.

19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.

It was so ironic that today I didn't wear my No More Fear bracelet and my coworker reminded me of living without fear.

Fear is the underdog and the elephant in the room at the same time. Everyone thinks little of it, yet knows it has a large presence. It's the forbidden emotion to feel, but has the greatest impact if gone ignored. Most importantly  where fear exists, love does not.

Love is very important to me. I want to experience it in every facet of life. However, from time to time I indulge in fear. I knew fear could paralyze you, but it wasn't until reading this scripture that I realized I wasn't living a life of love if I included fear.

Fear will make you Judge/Doubt instead of Trust
Fear causes bitterness in the face of new opportunity
Fear causes blindness in reality
Fear causes Hate/Death instead of Love/Life

Today I realized that we are being called higher to really fall in love with life. It's time to stop fearing the very intention of the life we are to live. I'm so consumed with not knowing the next step that I can't hear or see the love in my life right in front of me.

How can God give me the desires of my heart, a life I can truly love, if I can't stop covering my eyes out of fear to see it?

There is more to life than progress, there is Love. If you become too obsessed with progress you will miss out on all the love right in front of you. In love all is ok, all is right. No more fear...

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched; they must be felt with the heart. - Helen Keller


It'sTime to Grow Up - Let's Get Real About Purpose

I know before I have said Romans is my favorite book in the bible, but now I think my 2nd favorite book has got to be Ephesians. In my last post my meditation came from Ephesians, and it has continued to be my meditation. If you are going through any kind of transition in your life, Ephesians is a great book to read.

So on that note, as I meditated today on needing guidance in this period of transition, I read Ephesians 4. As I read the chapter I realized that we have to grow up at some point.

We are all working towards a greater cause, and if we are serious about walking our journeys we have to decide if we are going to leave old mindsets and behaviors behind in order to continue the journey. For me, God spoke clearly about trials and fear. I can't run away every time it gets hard or seems really new and scary. I have to choose whether I am going to work past my fears or allow them to end my story early.

You may need to decide the same. How often do you turn around because the road becomes too unfamiliar? You can't run from who you are and who you are destined to be. Right now God is calling us to grow up and get serious about the calling on our lives.

We have different journeys but it is our responsibility to make sure we are all walking them. It's time to be more mindful of your words and actions towards others. It's gets hard sometimes and what you say or do should not make your journey or the next journey harder.

This life is bigger than us and it's a privilege to live it! So now I'll leave you with the scripture. It's time to grow up folks!!!

(Ephesians 4:1-32 MSG)

In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is, He climbed the high mountain, He captured the enemy and seized the booty, He handed it all out in gifts to the people. Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.

No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.

But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.

What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life.

Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work. Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you. 


God is Building a Home, and You Belong Here

Today I finally sat down to journal for a bit and through my writing I discovered I was becoming unsure if I was achieving my purpose right now. I was beginning to think that I would return home to the U.S. in three months and still not have my life figured out. So after expressing myself, I did what I know to do when I need to listen...I went to go read some scripture.

I came across a chapter in Ephesians that reminded me of something important; It wasn't long ago that we all started our respective journeys, and because of this God is still preparing us. He is still building our home and even in the midst of construction, we still belong here. So even though I feel like I am floating from place to place figuring things out, I belong right where I am because it's by God's doing that I am here. 

So I've decided to share this scripture with anyone else who may need to read this post today! Hang in there!

Ephesians 2 The Message (MSG)

He Tore Down the Wall

1-6 It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.
7-10 Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
11-13 But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.
14-15 The Messiah has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. He tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. He repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Then he started over. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, he created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody.
16-18 Christ brought us together through his death on the cross. The Cross got us to embrace, and that was the end of the hostility. Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. He treated us as equals, and so made us equals. Through him we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.
19-22 That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This kingdom of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home. He’s using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in what he is building. He used the apostles and prophets for the foundation. Now he’s using you, fitting you in brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.


The Spirit Series Finale - Part 5: Protecting the Spirit

Hello everyone! As usual I apologize for the extremely long delay. A lot has changed in my life and in a very short period of time, but you can learn about these changes on my new blog: My Living Abroad Journeys.

However, in the mean time I would like to bring closure to our Spirit Series which was a very important topic. If you are just starting or catching up you can find the previous posts here:

  1. Part 1- What is God's Spirit
  2. Part 2- Taking Care of the Spirit
  3. Part 3- Communication in the Spirit
  4. Part 4 - Love in the Spirit

We have explored what the Spirit is, how to take care of it, communicate through it, and love through it. Now the most important thing to do next is protect it.

So why is protecting the spirit so important? Well if you don't protect it, you will leave it vulnerable to any and all attacks! The bible speaks of the Fruits of the Spirit. These are things that the Spirit produces when it is protected and constantly engaged. 

Galatians 5:22-23 New Living Translation (NLT)

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Remember how we talked about how the Spirit can feel lost, confused, broken, or even dead in Part 2? Well, it is because you are producing "dead" fruit. When you choose to engage in that pointless argument, seek revenge, proceed to cuss someone out, or allow your emotions to get the best of you, you are producing dead fruit.

Of course there are more actions that can be added to the list, but the focus should be that you are allowing things that are not good to penetrate your heart, mind, and Spirit. Eventually that means that your actions and way of life will also be corrupted.

This is not healthy and it isn't they way God intended us to experience life. The hard part is that we know we will encounter things daily that will threaten our spirits. So in order to keep our spirits from dying, we must protect it. How? Well let's look at some more scripture!

Philippians 4:8 New Living Translation (NLT)

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Now this is easier said than done right? I mean it is clearly hard to think on something lovely when someone has taken your parking space, stolen your credit card information, stomped on your last nerve, or just made things entirely too hard. However, isn't it better when we don't engage in these negative behaviors? 

That person you just told off is now plotting revenge worst that you ever anticipated. Or the outcome may not have played out the way you wanted it. Now you have wasted time, energy, and self-control on things that produced nothing good to your life and the lives of others.

The reality is that yes, sometimes we will make bad choices and still fall short, but I love that this scripture proposes a goal. It says "Fix your thoughts on...," which means Aim to think about these things. That means you should practice getting in the habit of thinking and acting on truth, not lies/opinions/perceptions. It means aim to act in an honorable or respectful way. Act and think out of love. All the positive things you admire should be the things you think and focus on when life threatens your Spirit with negativity. 

It is your choice to and ability to do this, and that is not only worthy of praise, but also protects your spirit! If you are protecting your spirit, ultimately you are choosing to live in the Spirit, which is what we were destined for.

Understanding the physical is great, but we are not limited to it. When we choose to engage our Spirits in our everyday living we begin to see differently, think differently, and love differently! New possibilities expand and we are constantly learning and growing. We learn more about ourselves, other people, our purpose, dreams, abilities, and most importantly God!

So my hope is that through this series you have started the journey to learning about the Spirit of God in you! The life that you imagined and dreamed of is right over the hill but you have to seek it out. Engage with your Spirit, take care of it, communicate through it, love it and everything around you, and always protect it! I love you and I hope this series has been a blessing because it truly did bless me. As always I love you and stay tuned for more from my new blog, and new blog posts here too!


The Spirit Mini Series Part 4: Love in the Spirit

Sorry for the little delay in posting, but I am back and we are continuing where we left off with our Spirit series. If you are new to these posts here are the first three parts to the series for you to catch up on: 

  1. Part 1- What is God's Spirit
  2. Part 2- Taking Care of the Spirit
  3. Part 3- Communication in the Spirit
Today we are going to talk about Love in the Spirit. Love is a very interesting concept and has been a part of society since the beginning of time. Usually when we think of love we think of it in a romantic sense, however when we talk about love in the spirit, it goes much further beyond the romantic phase or the societal idea of love. 

As stated in the Ten Commandments our greatest requirement is to love. Love God, love ourselves, love each other, love our bodies, love our purpose. But what is it to really love? I think we have ask ourselves this question constantly to explore the depths of love, and the love that God requires of us. 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13 provides a great reminder of the kind of love God looks for us to strive for in our everyday living.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-7 New Living Translation (NLT)

Love Is the Greatest
13 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it;[a] but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

This scripture not only represents God's expectation of us, but this represents love on a spiritual level. That is why the Bible constantly emphasizes having a right heart, because the spirit of God is housed within the heart. Because God is love, our spirits and spiritual living must also represent love. Ultimately the spirit cannot be in balance if your heart is not balanced. So what does this all mean? Let's break down the scripture a little bit more.

God's love is never intended to be hard, but personally I do believe it challenges us, because God constantly challenges us to grow and be better. That's why I love this scripture because it doesn't romanticize it, it emphasizes practical application. 
  • Love is patient even when our very last nerve is ready to explode, love rules over every emotion and action that results in hatred, and replaces it with kindness.
  • Love reminds us that we do not need be jealous of someone else because their is enough prosperity through God for us all. In the same sense there is no need to boast on what you have to battle insecurities because we all have access to what we need.
  • Love is not constantly in an irritable state and doesn't need to constantly remind others or even yourself of how many times the world has wronged you. Love doesn't hold on to these things. It doesn't indulge or secretly celebrate when vengeance is attained, but only when the truth is revealed because healing can come from truth. 
  • Love never quits, meaning on others and yourself. It never stops believing in the greatness of life, the possibility, and the purpose. It instills hope and encouragement to its surroundings, and it survives through any and every circumstance.
Love through this perspective allows you to love through God's spirit, not through the inconsistencies of our flesh. Just like we discussed in Part 3, loving yourself and others in the spirit allows you to communicate and have a different perspective also. You are now seeing yourself and others in the spirit, not on the surface.

When you love in the spirit, it allows you to see the hearts and spirits of others. It helps you to be more patient and kind to the person who seems angry or hateful because you see their heart and spirit. While you may not agree, it allows you to be more understanding of their behaviors because you can see their wounds, and their perspective. 

So instead of speaking to their flesh which may be their hateful words, need to slander you, inability to listen to anyone, huge need for attention, struggle with addiction, coldness or lack of opening up, and other circumstances we encounter when interacting with one another; you speak to their spirit, to their heart and understand that their actions is not a reflection of who they really are. You are patient with them because you understand that just like God helps you to grow and become better through loving you and exhibiting the same traits, that you can help them to do the same by loving others as God loves you. 

Just as important, love in the spirit allows you to accept and love YOURSELF at every point of your life, good and bad. It reminds you to be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself, and have faith in yourself. God did not choose you to live this life if he didn't think you could do it! You learn to love yourself through every circumstance when you love in the spirit. This is something that I am constantly challenging myself to do. 

Lastly before I get ready to end this post, I just want to emphasize why love in the spirit is much more stronger than love in the flesh. Just like verse seven says in the scripture above, it ENDURES through every circumstance. When we try to love according to our own standards, we tend to give up. We aren't able to love ourselves like we need to and we give up on our dreams, lives, and purpose. We give up on others and lose hope in humanity, relationships, and overcoming. That's why it is important to love in the spirit, because if we aren't, then we really aren't living. Our spirits and lives began to slowly die. 

So challenge yourself to love in God's spirit. Take this scripture and apply it into your life. Look at things, yourself and others from this perspective. Make it your desire to share the same love God bestows upon you everyday upon others. 

Our next edition in the series will discuss Protecting the Spirit. We've discussed various components of life in the spirit, but it is also very important to protect it! So stay tuned for Part 5 and as always thank you for your support! Be Blessed!

Simply Me

Simply Me