Summary: What does it mean and how can we "Walk in Love?"
WALKING ACCORDING TO LOVE
* Having already read our text, let reread verse 15 again. (Read) I call your attention to the last part of that verse which is for me the summary of Paul’s challenge to his readers. That is, to walk in love. Think for a time with me about this concept. In fact, let’s break it down word by word and concept by concept.
* We begin with the word “Walking.” You and I know all about walking. It is one of the first things we attempt to teach our kids and is a normal part of life. However, when we think of this type of walking, it is not about our legs it is about our life. One of the definitions reads this way; “To conduct oneself or behave in a particular manner.” The way we live is our walk.
* Next, look at “according to.” These two words are very interesting and used very frequently. We may say “according to my dad, my mom, the Bible, the church, or any other of a multitude of possibility. So this means “in keeping with, as determined by, and/or as indicated by.”
* Finally, we come to the word “Love.” Now, everybody seems to have their own definition of love. Some say it’s a “warm affection or devotion”, a “strong positive emotional attachment”, “to be enamored with”, and even “a feeling of sexual desire and passion.” However, if we truly desire to understand the full range of love, we must look to the source of love. So I’ll sum up love in one word: God. It is not that God can love, it is that God IS love. It is His character and nature.
* Before we get to our text, allow me to briefly set our thinking caps on correctly about this thing called love. A common modern day concept about love is that it is only an emotion you feel. Well, make no mistake you may well experience an accompanying feeling. Many times in scripture we read about God being grieved with His people and Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, but real love is more than just a feeling. Another common thought about love is that it never confronts or corrects. Yet, it is because of authentic, godly, agape love that God reaches into our lives to confront and correct us of the sin we are involved in.
* When we understand God’s love and walk according to His love, things are different in our lives. As a result, people see the Lord in us.
* So how do we walk “according to” love? It’s one thing to say it, but how do we do it? Allow me to offer you 3 things which should impact us.
1. The Choices we make. – Choices make us who we are. I used to tease my wife by telling the story that as a music minister, one night I said to her, “Deb, I’ll let you select the next 3 hymns.” Pointing, she said, “I’ll take Him, Him, and Him.” Obviously, that’s a funny, but it illustrates the point that when you give someone a choice, you never know what they’ll choose.
* In this text, the call is 3 about three choices to make if we walk in love.
a. No Longer Criticize – It goes without saying that the enemy #1 of walking is Christian love is the tongue. The warnings are many and severe which speak of the improper use of the tongue. James compares the tongue to a horse, ship, and fire, with the lesson found in James 3:8 being, that “no one can tame the tongue.” Knowing how wild the tongue is, we must watch it constantly to make sure we keep tabs on it. Without proper attention, the tongue will be given to gossip, slander, outbursts of anger, rotten talk, and insult, which are forbidden by the Bible for the believer.
b. No Longer Complacent – Reading verse 15 convinces me that Paul is striking a blow at the complacent believer who says by his actions, “I don’t care.” When we come to the place that we don’t care how we impact those around us, we ceased to walk in the love of God. With everything Jesus did in His earthly life, He taught us to love other people with a love that propels to action. Could it be that too often we make a decision to not worry about others and literally, negative impact one who is lost; so by our complacent attitude and behavior, someone is driven away?
c. No longer Confuse. – Back in verse 1, Paul writes about “doubtful issues” and we talked about these last week. It would seem that in verse 16-17 Paul is returning to this thought and saying, “Don’t let secondary issues control your life because those are not what God’s Kingdom is all about!” It seems to me that confusion abounds in the American church today. There appears to be a tendency to replace the true purpose of the church with some kind of manmade imitation. The Bible says, “The Kingdom (church) of God is about righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit and about serving the Messiah in this way.” Think about that and ask yourself a few questions. Have I confused my purpose for the church and God’s purpose for the church? If I could have the church like I wanted it, how similar or different would it be to the church God wants? I submit when we make His church like we want it, the culture becomes confused, they miss the greatest gift ever given, and we are not walking in love.