“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.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NKJV)
God is love and commands us to love one another. He “demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Ro. 5:8) Our heavenly Father loves us, even when the filth of our own sins cling to us. He sees the good in all His children. Looking past our present flaws, knowing they will transform into attributes of beauty through His grace, He sees the work of art we are destined to become.
Oh, that we might see our brothers and sisters with the same spiritual eyes of love that our Savior reserves for us! Why must we focus on the sins within those we care about, and not glorify the gifts of praise God has already transformed in them? We live in a world full of hash criticisms and so often we end up pointing out weaknesses in others, when we in turn have a huge plank in our own eye.
However, God’s love is not always puppy tails and cotton candy. Sometimes, His love is a plate of vitamins and liver. He sees our malnourished spirits and lovingly asks us to swallow some bitter pills. In love, He brings difficult things to our attention that may at first be a real challenge to digest. But once we have taken that first awful bite ….. and really chew on it, we decide to lay down our pride and admit our wrongs.
Max Lucado put it very well in the following quote:
“God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.”
As vines in His orchard, God lovingly prunes us so that we may bear more fruit for His glory. The pruning is painful. Never is it a pleasant experience, but it is worth enduring. Not only because it is a gift from God’s own hand, but because the transformation brings us closer to becoming more like Him.
In love, God draws our attention to personal sin areas. He does this because He wants us to cut them out of our lives. But how is this done and how will He bring them to our attention?
God uses His Word to convict, instruct, and encourage us. Guilt and shame is never of the Lord, so renounce it if you are feeling condemned. Satan is obviously having his way with you. However unpleasant conviction may be, hope of victory should always be holding his hand. Philippians 4:13 tells us that “We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” This means we are able to recognize the sin within us and have victory over it.
If you are aware of sins in your friends and family, God may choose to use you to root them out. However, be very careful to recognize any gigantic planks in your own eyes first. How will another person accept your words of conviction when you are carrying around a major piece of wood in your own eye? In addition, pray about whether you are the person selected by God to speak about the sin area in that other individual. They may not receive your words about a matter because God has chosen another believer to share insights that will bring them to their knees in repentance.
Overall, pruning is a loving action from our heavenly Father. We are to love others with compassion and tenderness, but also in truth. We must strive to be transformed into the image of Christ, and help others in their transformation as well.
There will be times when God asks us to speak truths to other believers in love, even at the expense of hurting their feelings. If we are truly called to speak, we must obey. There may be tension and anger at first, but He will work on the heart of those we love. Obedience is a big part of walking with God.
May God bless you with a mighty pruning, so that you bless Him with a marvelous harvest. Fear not when He cuts away your dead branches as new growth will soon appear. You will find yourself a much healthier grape vine in the orchard of God.
“With all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love” Ephesians 4:2 (NKJV)
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:3-5 (NKJV)