the love journey

Yes, love seems like a journey to me.  Sometimes the entire journey happens in but a moment … at other times hours, days, weeks, months and even years pass.

This post is me wrestling to understand a bit of that journey and where I might be faltering.  If you have a different perspective, I would love to hear it.  If I’ve interpreted something incorrectly I would love to hear about.

I usually don’t start with the conclusion, but the conclusion appears to be an appropriate place to start today.  This is how I see the journey …

affection (the feeling of love)–>mercy–>grace–>forgiveness–>compassion–>love (action)

Now obviously, all those stops are not in every love journey the believer travels.   I think many of us believe we are strong at love … but what we’re truly talking about is affection.  On the journey from affection, we stumble at mercy, grace, forgiveness, and/or compassion rarely reaching love (as a verb) … especially with those we perceive as ‘unlovable’.

OK, I stumble.

Let’s start with a few definitions as they apply to this journey …

  • Affection – a feeling of loving someone
  • Mercy – not inflicting a punishment or other negative response that someone truly deserves
  • Grace – bestowing something good or positive on someone that is truly undeserved
  • Forgiveness – absolve someone from a penalty or punishment resulting from some wrong committed against you or God (that is God’s responsibility not ours)
  • Compassion – seeing and understanding the need of another and wanting to do something about it
  • Love – loving or caring for someone in action and truth (see 1 John 3:18)

Time for first checkpoints …

Do you agree or disagree with the order?  Why or why not?

Do you agree or disagree with the definitions?  Why or why not?

Is something included or omitted that needs to be taken care of?

Love is a motivation that begins the journey … as a motivation it seems best labeled as affection.

For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.  Philippians 1:8 (NASB)

The love of God moves us to act with mercy and grace.

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.  But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 2:3-7 (NASB)

And one of the first good outcomes of grace is forgiveness

IN Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. Ephesians 1:7-8 (NASB)

For me, oftentimes personal judgment becomes a roadblock to my journey through mercy, grace, forgiveness, and compassion … an obstacle that prevents me from reaching journey’s end.  The Holy Spirit has frequently used the following passage to convict me regarding my embrace of judgment … with mixed results I must confess …

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged.  For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”  Matthew 7:1-2 (NASB)

Compassion is another outcome of grace, one often withheld in lieu of judgment … forgiveness lacking …

But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”  Matthew 9:12-13 (NASB)

And compassion finally moves us to act in love.  Consider how compassion moved the Samaritan …

“But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.”  Luke 10:33-34 (NASB)

Or how about the father of the prodigal son?

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;  and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.”  Luke 15:20-24 (NASB)

The apostle John defined love for us as children of God …

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  1 John 3:18 (NASB)

affection–>mercy–>grace–>forgiveness–>compassion–>love

Oh Lord, so many times I falter in this love journey … never reaching Your destination.  May my flesh become fully surrendered and submitted to your indwelling presence.  Help me to love others as you love me!

Bernie

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About bwebbjr

A grandfather, father, husband, man, and a child of God who is following Christ Jesus and working out his salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work IN me, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). I dodged my first bullet with cancer when a cancerous polyp was removed in a sigmoid colectomy surgery in August 2007. Four years later, in the midst of a second colectomy surgery we discovered I had Stage IV metastatic colon cancer. Rather than colectomy surgery I had colostomy surgery, which now means the colostomy bag is a part of my everyday life ... with the emphasis on life. God has given us a peace beyond understanding as my wife and I have traveled this journey. By the grace of God I am blessed to be a 6 plus year cancer survivor aka warrior. In writing, I am often wrestling with my own personal struggles and beliefs and in the midst God leads me to a lesson He wants me to learn ... or sometimes He simply touches me in the revelation of Himself. My hope is that the result you see here might touch your heart and glorify God. And let me be clear ... I am not the only one with something to say. Please join in the conversation sharing your faith, your cancer experiences, etc. I would love to hear from you. Bernie
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3 Responses to the love journey

  1. I’m not sure we can say your list are steps in a journey, one leading to the next. For example, John 3:16 would have love preceeding grace in God’s actions (love motivated grace). That each word on your list stands independent yet is interrelated is for certain.

    What I do know without any doubt is that these relational fruit are the product of the Holy Spirit alone and He develops each one in us as He deems best. Our seeming faltering is an integral part of God’s development process, reminders that He is both the Author and Finisher of our faith.

    Whatever the struggle … I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6).

    • bwebbjr says:

      Richard … I so agree with every aspect of this clarifying and teaching comment. And yes, growing in love is a transformation orchestrated by God IN His indwelling presence … IN the work of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The struggle we all deal with is the struggle between our flesh and the Holy Spirit … they are at odds. Perhaps what I have shared here is simply my own person struggle … which I hope I have made clear throughout the post. And as you have pointed out … we are indeed a work in process heading toward completion on the day of Jesus Christ … thank you Lord! Great comment Richard – thank you brother! Bernie

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