For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
(Ephesians 1:15-16 ESV)
Paul has just explained to the believers in Ephesus (and believers today) that they have been given every spiritual blessing by God. This included predestination to be like Jesus, adoption into His family, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, knowledge of what God is doing, an inheritance, and being sealed by the Holy Spirit. That’s a lot of great things. But even so, Paul still felt the need to pray for them.
Paul was lead to pray for the Ephesians after he had heard about the “faith” they had for Jesus and the “love” they had for each other. Believers have received a lot from God, as we just learned. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t more that we need. Everyone – from the atheist most distant from God to someone who has walked with Jesus for decades – needs prayer.
“Faith” is the expression of trust in God – our vertical relationship with our creator. “Love” is how well we treat each other – our horizontal relationship with our peers. Notice that Paul first mentions faith, then love. True love can only be expressed by people who have a proper relationship with Jesus. Faith must come first. Love then comes from that faith.
We learned yesterday that God indwells each believer in the form of the Holy Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul tells us that it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit that people can exhibit certain characteristics. Its no coincidence that the first of these is love. The only way to love other people is by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the only way to experience the power of the Holy Spirit is to have faith in the work of Jesus, who is Lord.
This is the only source of true love. When we remove God from our lives there can be no love. Love is not an emotion. It is action. What the world calls love is actually lust. Lust is self love. It seeks to serve self. Love, on the other hand, is sacrificial. It is focused on others, not on self. Human beings in their natural, sinful state cannot love anyone but themselves.
Truly loving others requires faith in Jesus as Lord. Its not enough to acknowledge Jesus’ existence or even His death. Jesus must be recognized for who He is – God in the flesh.
Salvation only comes by recognizing that Jesus is Lord. Only then can God’s Holy Spirit allow us to love others [1 John 5:1]. When we have love for God we will have love for other people. And it is by this love that others will come to know Jesus too [John 13:35].
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.