Would you give your life for another person?
Would you sacrifice yourself so that someone else could live?
These are prevailing questions for the military of any nation; for the police; for those who would stand in the way of danger.
But, would you live for someone?
Would you choose to live your life in a way that gives credit and honor and life to another?
In the 2nd Book by the Prophet Samuel there is such a story. After many years, David has become the king. His predecessor, Saul, had turned from God and become wicked. In his wickedness, Saul had hunted David across the nation. Saul had attempted to kill David on many occasions. This transition of power had become a very bloody, multi-year, multigenerational conflict. Finally, David had become king.
During the conflict all of Saul’s family had been slain; or so they thought. This wiping out of the family was a byproduct of the conflict and consistent with the culture. A new king would often times eliminate all those related to or loyal to the previous king so there was no chance of an uprising from those loyalists.
One day David asked his court, “Is there no on still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?”
There was indeed one left. Mephibosheth, now a man, had been dropped as a child and was now a cripple. As he was summoned to the king I’m sure he must have thought that his difficult life of physical handicap would now end at the hand of the new king. I can only imagine the farewell kisses he would have offered to any friends as he began his journey to the palace.
David greeted Mephibosheth not with a sword but with safety. David gave Mephibosheth a new life. A life in the palace and a reserved seat at the king’s table. David showed Mephibosheth a lifetime of kindness. As long as David lived, Mephibosheth was safe.
Galatians 5:22 tells us that The Holy Spirit produces LOVE in our lives. One definition of LOVE that I recently read is a benevolence and goodwill towards others; it is a deliberate affection and a friendly regard towards God and man that displays itself in purposeful acts of sacrifice and kindness.
We can all think of times that we’ve witnessed kindness.
Maybe we have received someone else's generosity or we ourselves have been the doers of some kind deed. But far too often these are measured in moments. They end almost before they even begin. These random or intentional acts of kindness or often associated with an event in our lives. We may feel guilty or happy and we display it by holding a door, dropping a few coins in a pauper’s can, speaking a kind word.
There is nothing wrong with these examples of LOVE. In fact, I believe they help cultivate more LOVE inside of us and in the lives of others. But what about the LOVE that would disrupt our lives for years to come? David would have seen Mephibosheth sitting at his table for decades. At every meal he would have been reminded of how Mephibosheth’s grandfather, Saul, tried to kill him with a spear. Or how Saul hunted him across the desert plains. Mephibosheth’s face would have been the closest face to the years of betrayal that David would have experienced at Saul’s hand.
Not to mention the costs involved. David had now given Mephibosheth all that had belonged to Saul. David gave him land and houses and food from the king’s own table. Not just family inheritance restored but now a cost from that which rightfully belonged to David was being freely offered to a cripple. David gave the living of his life on behalf of Mephibosheth.
This kind of LOVE goes far beyond our moments of kindness. This kind of LOVE goes beyond a singular event. This kind of LOVE goes beyond our human capacity. How could any of us live for someone else?
This is a LOVE that The Holy Spirit grows in our lives. We must realize that selfless LOVE comes not from ourselves or is expressed for ourselves. This kind of LOVE does not return to us any of the credit. It is not for public display. It’s the kind of love that may include others at the beginning but then many people leave during the process. It's the kind of LOVE that goes without thanks or appreciation. It is the kind of LOVE that is very costly and takes years to express. This is a LOVE from the Holy Spirit that He alone cultivates in our lives.
During the later years of my grandfather’s life, he was almost completely confined to his bed. The stroke from a few years before had left him speechless, emotional and unable to care for even his most basic of personal needs. My grandmother, elderly herself, was his constant companion and caregiver. I remember watching her laugh with him as he tried to tell a joke. His words were a jumbled mess. They were mixed with tears and laughter. My grandmother laughed like it was the funniest joke she had ever heard. I watched her do this over and over again. She lived out the final days of his life for him. In truth, she had lived her whole life for him as his wife.
This is the LOVE of The Holy Spirit.
This is not grown in us by our own hands. No amount of generosity or self denial creates in us this kind of selfless LOVE. Do we bare some responsibility in this LOVE then? Of course. Our part is 2-fold.
First, move closer to the Holy Spirit. Spend time with the Him. Don’t resist Him in your life. Pray, read the Bible, fast, meditate on the Holy Spirit and His work in your life.
Second, respond to His promptings. When He encourages you to give to the pauper, do it. When He reminds of your neighbor and you suddenly think of ways to visit and show kindness, do it. When you have the idea to call that friend or the someone you’ve not spoken to for a long time, do it. Then, when He nudges you towards that life-long commitment that seems far too overwhelming, go for it. He will have been growing the fruit of LOVE in your life all these years and it is time for the life of harvest.
Over the next few weeks I will look at each fruit the the Holy Spirit produces in our lives as listed in Galatians 5:23.
While I don’t believe this represents an exhaustive list of all The Holy Spirit does in our lives, it is a great place to start, especially in regards to the virtues He produces in us. As we walk through this list let’s keep the clear perspective that our part is submission to Him in intamate relationship and it is He who produces these virtues in us. At the end of the day if there be any goodness in us, it is because He has produced that fruit in our lives.
Galatians 5:23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”