Love. The world says “love is love” but God says “I am love.” Here at MomStrong International we have spent the last three months pressing deeply into the fruit of the Spirit of God. Today, we’ll wrap up our study talking about the greatest of these: love.
Transcribed version of the podcast is below
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Romans 5:1-5
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- MomStrong International
- Scripture Writing Challenge
- My Events Calendar
- The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight
- Evangelical Christian Credit Union
Scripture Mentioned in Podcast
- Galatians 5:1
- Galatians 5:7
- Galatians 5:14-15
- Galatians 5:17
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- Galatians 5:22-23
- Romans 5:3-6
- Philippians 4:6-7
- Psalm 34:17-19
- 1 Timothy 1:5
Join us at MomStrong International for our Bible Study and Scripture Writing!
This podcast is brought to you by our friends at Evangelical Christian Credit Union.
Hey everybody, this is Heidi St. John. Welcome to the podcast. Today is Wednesday. It is the 28th of August. This is episode number 811 —we’re going to be talking about the fruit of the Spirit that is love. This is week four of the MomStrong International Bible study.
Stick around, I think you’re going to be encouraged.
So lots going on in my life right now. Thanks to everybody who’s been praying for us. We’re kind of working our way through all the water damage, and the pipes in our house, and everything. We’ve been traveling, had a fantastic turnout in Kansas City last Saturday for Faith that Speaks, for my women’s conference. And speaking of the women’s conference, I will be bringing that conference to Fredericksburg, Virginia. That is just two weeks away. So if anywhere in the Washington DC area, greater Richmond, Virginia, come on out. I come out once a year and we’ve still got room for you and it’s going to be, I promise you,a day this is going to change your life. I will be there on Saturday, September the 14th — it’s just two weeks away. If you want more information about my women’s conference Faith That Speaks, you can find it HeidiStohn.com/events. I’ll link back to that in the show notes today.
But like I’ve been saying you guys, this is my heart. It is my heart to come and just equip you in the Word of God. The theme for Faith That Speaks, and this is the last one for the year, is Miracle Worker: The Life Changing Power of Following Jesus. We’re talking about at Faith That Speaks, is what it looks like to have your faith, not just be something that you carry around like a backpack, but rather that it infuses your entire being and you become a voice for the Lord in the culture. That’s what we’re supposed to be. We’re supposed to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Next conference is going to be October 12th in Vancouver, Washington. Early bird tickets are on sale now, but that rate ends on September 2nd. So if you’re in the Pacific Northwest and you want to come to the women’s conference Faith That Speaks in Vancouver, that’s going to be held on October 12th and the early bird rate for that is gonna end here pretty quick.
All right, lots of great things coming up for all of us this year. We’re getting back to homeschooling, right? A moment of silence. I know there’s a bunch of you who have already gone back to homeschooling. We never do it here until after Labor Day, but I know a bunch of you are back and I just want to encourage you— a couple of things right off the bat. A schedule is your friend. The schedule is your friend. Moment of silence for everyone who is not yet penciled out their life. That might be me. I wrote a book about this called The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight, and if you are trying to figure out how you can fit your size 12 day into a size 10, that’s a great book for you can find an Amazon or in my Store. I’ll link back to in the show notes today, but lots of practical and a lot of great spiritual insight and information for you as you begin to plan your year and ask the Lord to infuse it with His Spirit.
Listen, God has a plan for you. He wants to help you. The Lord wants to be intimately involved in the plans that you make. I think for us as women, and this has certainly been true for me over the years—I like to make my plan and then present it to the Lord. That’s kind of backward. So I’m gonna encourage you to do what God says to do. That’s to lay your plans before Him. So before you write out your schedule, before you do any of that stuff, come before the Lord and ask Him what He wants you to do. Then when you’re ready for the nitty gritty and you’re ready to flesh it out, check out The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight. You don’t have to be a homeschool mom to appreciate that book. It’s a whole lot of encouragement for you. Real life examples from moms who have lots of little kids at home, to moms who just have one or two, homeschooling moms, moms that work from home, moms who have lots of little kids and high-schoolers. Anyway, I think you guys will be encouraged—so check it out. I will link back to it in the show notes today.
We are on week four of the study at MomStrong International. We’ve been studying all summer the fruit of the Spirit and we’re going to wrap it up appropriately with the fruit of the Spirit that is love. Next Monday, so the first Monday of every month, we start a brand new study. I want to just encourage you, this is a great time to jump into this study at MomStrong International. We’re going to be talking about what it means to be an ambassador for Jesus— and that’s what we’re supposed to be. The Bible doesn’t give any caveats. God doesn’t give any caveats to our ambassadorship. He doesn’t say— be my ambassador, unless those guys are poking fun at you, then don’t do it. He doesn’t say— be an ambassador for me if you’re feeling up to it. No, your life is speaking for the Lord. One of the main ways that we speak for Him is through the love that we show to other people.
Here at MomStrong International we have spent the last three months pressing deeply into the fruit of the Spirit of God. This singular fruit (love) is like the fleshy pulp of a Rainier cherry or a perfectly ripe peach— or if you’re like me, it’s an avocado. Oh what it would be like if our lives would look more like Jesus.
What would happen if God’s people, who are called by His name, would be the image bearers in every way that God has created us to be…that we would show forth the fruit of the Spirit, which is evidence really, that the Lord is at work in us. As people who love the Lord, and as those of us who greatly desire to love our biological and our spiritual families well—we’ve learned that only by the spirit flourishing in us are we able to have wisdom at all. This is only by God’s working in us, only by his spirit alive in us, can we be who God wants us to be, can speak true kindness, can we be His salt and His light to a world that desperately needs it. We’re going to look at this a little bit because the world has really misunderstood love and we talk about it in shades of gray— and there are no shades of gray around love.
Love is a powerful thing. We can bring our strongest emotions and we can lay them at God’s feet and let Him examine us. Then we step back after He does that and hopefully we’re rejuvenated to a place where we can offer grace to other people because we realize it’s been given to us. In place of ungodly anger, God wants to give us His peace. As these building blocks in our lives are being addressed, biblical integrity comes into view. This is the plumb line that directs us. We are reminded in the Word that it’s not okay to take any sort of sin lightly. Even when we let the small things slip—it erodes at the foundation. Pretty soon we become comfortable with deceit. Pretty soon we become comfortable with the world’s definition of what love is, and the world’s definition of kindness, and the world’s definition of goodness. We don’t want that.
Paul was very clear when he tells the body of Christ in Galatia that they need to be seeing growth from the Holy Spirit who is at work, transforming them. Often we think that these people groups, and churches in biblical times were free of the family drama and the parenting crises and the arguments that we experience. But the truth is— they were just like you and me. They are people regardless of where they lived. Paul summarized his message to the believing gentiles by saying this. Listen to what he said. Christ set you free for the sake of freedom, to love your neighbor as yourself, not to be saved and yet imprisoned by things God is not requiring. You started well but got distracted. Also, by the way, if you wound each other with your words and actions, watch out, you may be the one consumed. You’ve got freedom in Christ, but until eternity your flesh will battle against the Spirit of God. Let Him reign in you and experience the fullness of His joy. (Galatians 5:1,7,14-15,17)
At this point, Paul sounds like every other mother reading the study— and we’ve had it with the behaviors running a muck in our houses. Paul’s frustrated. He’s going— listen, you’ve been set free, you’ve got freedom in Christ, but you’re always going to be battling with your flesh. Because guess what? We live here, we’re walking on planet earth. As we dig into this topic of love and what it looks like, and what does it mean to love the culture — we keep in front of us what the love that God requires of us and asks for us looks different than the world defines it.
Agapē love, which we’ve talked about before—that’s the love that we have for one another. That’s different than the love that you see in a marriage relationship. Agapē love is unconditional…. well, I should back up. We see agapē love in our marriages, hopefully— because without it that eros love ain’t gonna last that long. When we think about agapē love, we think of it as unconditional. It’s a sacrificial love. It’s a willing choice that we make to love that person in front of us or love that child that’s driving us crazy or love our spouse to the middle of a disagreement. It’s a love that decides to be for the benefit of the one who receives the love rather than the lover is receiving pleasure.
God is not only agapē love, God also shows it and He commands it of believers. Whatever He commands, He also enables. I’m going to say that again. You should write that down. Whatever He commands, He also enables. Our flesh is strong, but the fact that God loves us so powerfully gives us the strength to put down our prideful flesh and instead put His love on. Love for God drives us to fight for kindness, goodness, and all aspects of the Holy Spirit’s fruit. It motivates us to weed out sin and address it, and choose a life of integrity. Love for God spills over into home and work, and is what pushes us to embrace the Spirit’s work in our lives. What a privilege to be loved by a holy, intimate God.
Warren Wiersbe noted “It is possible for the old nature to counterfeit some of the fruit of the Spirit, but the flesh can never produce the fruit of the Spirit. One difference is this: when the Spirit produces fruit, God gets the glory and the Christian is not conscious of his spirituality; but when the flesh is at work, the person is inwardly proud of himself and is pleased when others compliment him. The work of the Spirit is to make us more like Christ for His glory, not for the praise of men.”
This is a really important aspect to why we love people. We love them and why are we obedient? Why do we bring our spirit and our flesh captive to do the will of God? It’s because of a love for God that motivates us. We want to be motivated by that love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
This is the Holy Spirit at work in us. Galatians 5:22-23 says the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. We learned in Romans 5:3-6 the apostle Paul says: And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
It’s a powerful reminder that our love for others should never be motivated by anything else but our love for God. Our love for God should be the motivation. That’s why we speak on behalf of the unborn. That’s why we tell the truth about sexual sin in the culture. That’s why we speak the truth, even if our voice shakes. It’s because of our love for God. Our love for God should train our hearts to love other people. Sometimes that love of other people means we’re going to step out in front of something that could possibly turn out not so good for us. I had a wonderful conversation with several women out Abundant Life in Lee’s Summit when we were there last week for the conference. So many of the questions that I get when I’m signing books or sitting at the table or trying to get a bite of the sandwich at the lunch table, so many of the questions that I get now are coming from moms who are afraid to be loving— because love does not sacrifice truth. Now that doesn’t mean that you’re a jerk about it, but it means that if you can tell that your palms are sweating and your heart’s racing and you know that God’s asking you to speak the truth and to be an ambassador for Him— it might cost you something.
I talked to moms who are afraid of what it’s going to look like to raise their children in a culture that doesn’t understand agapē love, that doesn’t understand God’s approach to this fruit of the Spirit that He calls love. Love tells the truth. Love is patient. Love is willing to walk through deep water with somebody else. This is the same thing that’s true of our children. You can’t force your kids to love God. So how do we train them to love Him and embrace God’s approach? This agapē love. How do we train children to approach life the way God tells them to while we were praying for them to come to know Him?
So the first thing that you do is: model, model, model, model, model it. You can’t give your kids what you don’t have. Be the parents who love Jesus and embrace Him. Don’t be the worn down mom and dad who makes the kids dread adulthood. Show them the beauty of the Gospel and how loved they are. How many things that they can see around them that carry the fingerprints of God. Join Him where He’s working in your family, and you will begin to see fruit in the lives of your kids as you teach biblical principles as best practices—you don’t need to be all churchy—as the Lord gives you opportunity, speak TRUTH to them. Model what it looks like, pray with your kids, pray with them.
So how can you model trust and loving God in prayer? You pray openly, you pray with age appropriate information. Philippians 4:6-7 pray openly about everything. Psalm 34:17-19 model trust in agony. Even when you’re suffering—we want to trust the Lord. In 1 Timothy 1:5 it says, but the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. So trust the Lord. Three things that make up our motive for everything that we do in parenting is to give them instruction of love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. So the goal is always to teach them to love like Jesus does.
You guys, I’m telling you what, if we can’t do it—they’re going to have a real hard time because the culture wars against the things of the Lord, it really does. If we want our children to walk in right relationship with the Lord, it starts with you. It starts with me. It’s integrity in every situation. It’s situational integrity, and part of that is love. It’s that integrity of Spirit that shows us how to live in right relationship with the Lord. How do we model love when we don’t feel like we’re being loved in return? Ever had a three year old screaming at you? I have. How do we model it? We asked the Lord to help us do it. So far at MomStrong International this summer we have learned about every fruit of the Spirit, every single one of them. You can go back before this study is not available anymore, if you join me at MomStrong International, you can download this study on love. I’m going to start putting screenshots of the study so that you guys can see what it looks like because those of you who haven’t joined us at yet, I’m telling you what—these women are growing and you can download the study and do it with your kids. You can do it as a family. I’m telling you the Word of God will change your life. So I want to just encourage you, join me and become a member.
It is just about $8 a month and it goes a whole long way to supporting this ministry and it helps me continue to keep the writing team writing for you. They’re the ones who helped me get this study out to you every month. If you haven’t checked out Kids Strong, our daughter Savannah writes Kids Strong and that really is aimed at moms who have young children to help you teach your children what you are learning. Because we can’t pass on what we don’t possess. So once we started to learn it, we want to learn how to pass it on. So I’m going to encourage you, if you haven’t done it already, this is a great time. September is a fantastic time to jump into the Word of God. Get up in the morning. You guys, set your alarms, get up before your kids if you can. Open up the Word of God, download this study, fill in the blanks. Get used to inking up your Bible and I promise you—being in the Word of God will change your life. The Holy Spirit does the work. It’s God that changes us and He does it through prayer and through the study of His Word. Try it and see if God won’t change your life in that way also.
Before I go today, I want to let you guys know about some things that are really cool that are happening from our sponsor. I did a really cool podcast recently about sheltering children. A lot of you guys heard it. I heard some great feedback from you. One thing that we don’t want to keep from our children is the power of handling money responsibly. Our podcast sponsor today is Evangelical Christian Credit Union and they have the tools that parents can use to teach financial responsibility to children of any age. So spending accounts, savings accounts, no monthly or overdraft fees. I could go on and on. We’ve got to teach our children to be accountable for their finances and ECCU can help you do just that. You can learn more at eccu.com/heidi. Listen, don’t shield your children from responsibility. They’ll thank you later.
I want to thank you guys also for listening to the podcast today. It really encourages us. if you’ve got a question that you’d like addressed at Mailbox Monday, shoot us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Any correspondence that you want to send to us, including financial support for this ministry can be sent to me.
Have a great day and I’ll see you back here on Friday for part two of my interview with the amazing Andrew Pudewa.
Write to Heidi:
Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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