Faith and Love
Have you ever stopped to consider how faith and love are connected? We hear all about faith and all about love in the church as if they were two distinct things, but the concepts are actually very much intertwined with one another. You can’t really have one without the other.
Faith without Love
You can’t have faith without love because if you truly have faith in God, you know Him personally. It’s hard to have faith in or trust someone you don’t know very well. If we know God, we also know what true love is, because God is love. It’s like being around a truly joyful person. You can’t know that person and not see and experience what true joy looks like. Similarly, we can’t know God and be around Him and not experience what true love looks like.
Therefore our faith in God, which grows from knowing Him, creates the opportunity for us to experience the fullness of His love. And when His love floods us, it will spill out onto other people.
Love without Faith
On the flip side, you can’t have love without faith. If you actively love the people around you and show them the love of Jesus, you are, in essence, demonstrating your faith in God. After all, why would we bother to show love to people if we didn’t believe it mattered in the long run?
There’s a reason why we love. We were created for it by God. It’s part of God’s purpose for His people to further His kingdom. But we can’t do it if we’re not in tune to His spirit through faith.
Sure, there are plenty of non-Christians who do good things for others because they just feel it’s the right thing to do, but they probably couldn’t honestly say they do all those things out of a deep love for God’s children. Only people who have experienced God’s immense and perfect love for themselves can extend that same love to other people. Non-Christians may try their best to love others, but how can you feel something and give something so personal if you’ve never experienced it?
Activating Faith through Love
Love and faith definitely go hand in hand, but their relationship is a cyclical one. The one feeds on the other and vice versa. When we demonstrate love to others and serve people as Christ did and as God wants us to do now, we activate our faith.
You’ve probably heard of people who go on mission trips and come back saying how they went to help other people but they found that they themselves grew a lot spiritually in the process. This is because when we serve others out of love, God uses that humble action to empty us of ourselves, and the more we empty ourselves, the more room we have to be filled with God.
When we serve others or do what God calls us to do, we draw closer to God and must rely on Him for guidance and to be filled up again. Every time we love on someone and give or serve we are, in essence, drained a little. To get filled back up, we must spend more time with our Father. That time spent with Him in turn grows our faith.
Then, as our faith grows, guess what we want to do more. Love! The more we believe and trust in God and who He says He is, the more we know how loving He is. The more we grasp His infinite love for us all, the more we’re compelled to show everyone that same love so they can experience it themselves.
People are often like this with other things of the world that excite them like sports, books, movies, music, etc. If you see a great movie or read a great book, you’re probably likely to share with others how great it is to get them to go see it or read it themselves. If it’s something amazing, we’ll want to share it with everyone because we know how great of an effect it had on us and we want that for others.
Our loving relationship with God should be the same. When we experience Him fully through faith, experiencing all of His love, grace, joy, peace, strength, etc., we can’t keep it in. We know how great life can be with Him, so we want others to experience it too.
How Do We Love?
Still, even when we do know God’s love, we can get caught up in life and our own schedule and fail to make time to love people. So how do we love? How do we get to that point to where it just flows out of us?
The answer is fairly simple. We get to know God like we never have before. God is perfect in everything but especially in love. That is His defining characteristic. So the more we know Him, the more we’ll understand about how we must love others.
We can get to know God by reading His word and learning about Jesus’ time on earth. We can pray daily and listen for His voice to speak to us. He desires to spend time with us because He is a personal God. A strong relationship with Him is our highest priority. If we develop this first, everything else, including loving others, will follow.