“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3: 4
If love and faithfulness never leave me, then they will define everything– every choice, action, and word.
Paul defines love as the “greatest of these” –even greater than faith or hope– in I Corinthians 13: 13.
Love is the first attribute of the fruit of the Spirit. Love is what led Christ to the Cross. When I let love lead out, I am proving myself to be a Christ-follower. Love is my choice for today…and faithfulness keeps it flowing tomorrow. Christ in me makes this possible.
“…bind them around your neck…”
Am I bound by love? If love leads out, then I am constrained by love. There are certain behaviors and attitudes that will be “off-limits” to the child of God bound by His love. And if love is truly bound around my neck, then love is seen. My actions, words, attitudes, behaviors….will be different because they are love-bound. Others will take note. My love “necklace” bears testimony to the One to whom I am bound.
“…write them on the tablet of your heart.”
If love is written on my heart, I’m changed from the inside out. Of course, that’s the only real and lasting change. A change in behavior that is manufactured in the flesh is just a veneer and cannot be sustained. It produces no lasting fruit. It is false, fake, and fruitless. But if my heart has been changed, I’m a new creation. My innermost thoughts and actions are transformed by love. The inside comes out and manifests itself in changes to actions and words. Jesus Himself said, “…For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” (Luke 6: 45) The words on my tongue reflect the transformation of my heart.
If love leads, my words are different.
If love leads, I make better decisions.
If love leads, I am a peacemaker, I walk in holiness, and I bring glory to God.
But letting love lead out does not mean life will always be easy or that I will always be applauded or even accepted. Consider the life of Jesus. Love led Him to the Cross. And then look at the others who faithfully followed God: Joseph, Moses, Daniel, David, Stephen, Paul…life for them was not always a cake walk.
Am I willing to allow love to lead me to a place where I’m not only not loved back, but even to a place where I might be criticized, condemned, misunderstood, and rejected?
I must be absolutely certain my motives are pure and that love is leading. The persecution counts for nothing if it is to elevate me. But it counts for eternity if I’m following Christ in obedience. Are the problems I face the result of my own selfishness and self-interest…or are they the fall-out of pursuing and obeying Christ above all?
What does it look like in your life – and mine – for love and faithfulness to lead out?