“Be rooted and established in love.”
See Ephesians 3:17
For so many years I thought I knew what love was, but I had no clue. Like so many others, I believed love was simply a sentimental feeling—it’s not. “Sentimental feelings” is just one small layer of love. Because I was so off base in my knowledge of real love, I thought that in order to love someone you had to do everything they asked you to do, and if someone loved you, they’d do the same. Christ’s Spirit has taught me otherwise.
In Ephesians 3, Paul tells us we must be “rooted and established in love, and when we do we’ll have power!” “What does that even mean?” you might think. Paul is teaching the Christians in Ephesus that when we are established in love, rooted, only then will we be able to “grasp how wide, long, high, and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18). The whole point of being rooted and established in love is to grasp the love of Jesus!
So real love is…drumroll please…
…the love of Christ! This is the nucleus of all real love!
Once I began to allow God to teach me this truth, my life as a Christian started to change dramatically, for the better. Over time, as I’ve let Him renew my mindset through His Spirit in me, I’ve grown to understand that real love truly is the love of Christ—no matter who I was applying it to, myself not withstanding.
So as we allow these heavenly roots to be established in our minds, we soon learn that love is not completed through a sentimental feeling, or through sex, or even through the feeling of butterflies-in-the-stomach. It is also not finalized in a parent/child love, brotherly love, or sisterly love–these are all simply outward layers of love, but not the actual roots.
This is why until the love of Christ is established in us, no other layer of love can possibly be completed–no matter how hard we try to force it or different angles we come at it. Our Creator has made it to where only Jesus can complete humanity’s crackling foundation of love.
The great thing about God is He always gives us guidance–through His Spirit in us–on how to love others and ourselves. It’s us who must pay attention. In 1 Corinthians 13 there’s a list of characteristics of His love for us. So naturally, as we allow Him to live through us we will begin to grow this love in our lives from His roots (Jesus also touched on how this works in John 15:5). Eventually, many different flavors of His love is produced through us–not from us, but through us:
- Love is patient
- Love is kind
- Love is not jealous
- Love does not brag
- Love is not proud
- Love does not dishonor others
- Love is not self-seeking
- Love is not easily angered
- Love keeps no records of wrongs
- Love does not delight in evil
- Love rejoices with the truth
- Love always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres
These are the characteristics of God, and God lives in us! (See 1 Corinthians 6:19). “But Matt, you just don’t understand what I’m going through!”…My friend, no, I don’t…but God sure does. He’ll get you to where you need to be–a place of peace and confidence–soon enough, as you allow Him to come out of you, little by little, day by day. God sees you, He sees your pain, and nothing goes unnoticed by Him. Give it time, trust, and truth–and allow His Spirit to comfort you as these roots grow deep and strong in your mind!
When we finally establish the love of Jesus Christ into our hearts, by believing in His forgiveness once (see Hebrews 10:10, Galatians 3:2)–we then become empowered from within to stand up against any unacceptable behavior. Being loving is not about becoming a human punching-bag, it’s about exuding Christ. As He teaches us how to do this through the Holy Spirit, we begin to learn our value.
Once we begin to learn our value–a value so priceless Christ Himself died for us–we then stop putting up with the crap we’ve always put up with. But now, we do so in a truthful, respectful, loving way, because that’s who we really are in our spirits. Loving others will require controlled confrontations over the things that must change. The stuff they are doing, causing, or contributing to–which is impacting your life negatively–has to go. And it has to go because you now know your worth to God.
When we finally get the gist of Christ’s adoration for us (therefore learning our value) we stop reacting out of fear and frustration toward those who treat us poorly. We no longer allow their threats, aggressiveness, or silent treatments to dictate our joy or self-worth because we know that our joy and self-worth comes from within us. In turn, we begin to not give a rip about their intimidation or coldness because we know that ultimately, whatever they decide to do or not do, God has our back.
This becomes a new “fruit of the Spirit” growing from us which is called “self-control” (see Galatians 5:22-23). Self-control strengthens our stance against people who try to use us or make us feel less-than, “If we don’t do what they say! Now!” Eventually, we begin to grow deep, secure roots in our identity in Christ. In turn, we stop enabling them, and we stop bowing down out of fear or loneliness. Soon enough you’ll see that God has taught you their tactics no longer work on you–AND YOU BECOME FREE!
As we continue the Holy Spirit also teaches us that sometimes the best form of love we can show is refusing to help someone who refuses to help themselves. He teaches us healthy boundaries! He teaches us what our responsibilities are, and what they are not. From time to time He will even lead us to take a step back and say, “I love you too much to be your crutch any longer, STAND UP!”
Remember, enabling is not a form of love. Enabling does not grow from your roots. Enabling is demonic. Enabling is the main ingredient to the formula of ruining the other person’s life whom you are enabling. Enabling is also the main ingredient to ruining your life, to draining your joy, and to keep you painstakingly frustrated. STOP ACCEPTING UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR AS NORMAL! This is possible! You will get this strength from your roots! (See Philippians 4:13).
So today, my friends, know this: The love of Christ will change your entire life! Let Him establish His roots in your heart, water them daily, and then watch them grow up and out of the soil of your soul, strong and tall!
A prayer for you: God, I want to thank you for this day! I also want to thank you for your love! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Help them begin to understand just how much love you have for them in Christ. If they don’t already have a relationship with you, I’m asking you to form and mold a BEAUTIFUL relationship IN them, starting today! Begin to give them the desires of their hearts once they have you IN their hearts! Bury your roots of love deep inside them and make those roots grow up and out for all to see, admire, and find rest in its shade. Amen.
This devotional is from 60 Days for Jesus, Volume 1. Get your copy here!