Summary: God enable us to love all people in the same way He loves us.
Last week (Romans 5:6-8) we talked about God’s amazing love for all people. For example, if he could love and forgive someone like Jeffrey Dahlmer, the Milwaukee Monster after all of the hideous things he had done, he can love and forgive anyone. The point of God’s amazing love is that he loves us regardless of our behavior. We cannot make God love us more by being good, or less by being bad. He loves us unconditionally no matter what we do and whether we love him back or not.
Incredibly, this is how he wants us to love each other. You may think, “I’m not God. I can’t love like that!” He knows that! So, he gives us his so we can love like he loves. He wants us to love all people just like he loves all people.
Years ago I read a about a Prison Fellowship volunteer who visited prison inmates in order to show them God’s love and to win some of them to the Lord.
There was a picture with the article of a “sixty-something” woman standing with a male inmate in his twenties with their arms around each other. The subtitle said that the woman had adopted the inmate as her spiritual son-in-the-Lord because she had led him to receive Jesus. Does this reflect God’s love? Sure it does – a kindly woman sacrificing some time to share Jesus with a criminal; that Jesus loves him no matter what he had done and would forgive him and save him if he wanted him to? Could you do that? Offer forgiveness to inmate? You probably could do that with some encouragement.
Well – let me tell you the rest of story. The person she was hugging and had adopted as her son-in-the-faith was none other than the man who had murdered her son. Initially, of course, she didn’t want to see him saved. She wanted to see him punished. But the anger, the rage and the bitterness that came naturally into her heart was ruining her relationship with Jesus, so she prayed and asked God for the strength to love her son’s killer with the love he loves us – His Son’s Killers. God gave her that strength! She never imagined she would actually visit him in prison and personally lead him to Jesus, but it was this love of Christ in her that he experienced that caused him to receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior! Could you do that? I couldn’t – not without his miraculous help and power!
This is Paul’s prayer for his brothers and sisters in Christ in Ephesus. Paul asks God to strengthen them making it possible for them to love in the same way God loves because they didn’t have that capacity without God’s help! God can and wants to give us the inner strength to love like this too!
A. Paul Prays for a NEW POWER in the Inner Person – verses14-17a
1. The Power to love others with God’s love begins with PRAYER!
Paul asks God to strengthen his friends in their inner being with power out of God’s vast resources. They already have the SAVING presence of Christ in them. Paul is now asking God to enable them to experience this power fully at work in them – Christ’s RULING presence. When God is ruling in our hearts he is controlling us from the inside out. We don’t like giving God control over our lives. We like having him along for the ride as our co-pilots, but we want to stay in the driver’s seat. If he is going to help us, we will need to let him drive.
To let him have control over our lives we must let him come in and fill up our lives. In Ephesians 5:18 Paul says, “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.” What happens when we are filled with alcohol? Everything we do is affected by it because our inner senses have been changed. For example, when a police officer conducts a field sobriety test of someone who is intoxicated he might ask him to walk along the yellow line and touch his nose with his finger. When he can’t, the officer knows the individual has lost control of his ability to function normally. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit we are controlled from the inside by his power. We are given the ability to love those we otherwise would not be able to love because we have been filled with God’s love. The dear lady in the prison was already saved but she needed the Holy Spirit’s indwelling power at work in her to enable her to love and forgive her son’s killer, since she couldn’t on her own.