In the Old Testament, God’s presence was largely geographic. Think about these titles, some of which we still use today: Holy Land, Holy City (Jerusalem), Holy of Holies in the Holy Temple. These specific locales were holy because they represented the dwelling place of God Himself.
Where does God reside today? In one of the most incredible concepts in the New Testament and the supernatural Christian life, God Himself lives in us by the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5-7 says, “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” At the time we were justified, God’s Holy Spirit took up residence in our new heart.
One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit that we touched upon in our last post is His assurance that we are loved by God. “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” (Rom 5:5). It is interesting to note a few verses later when it was that God first loved us. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
God’s unconditional love was “demonstrated” to us when? “While we were yet sinners”; while we were God’s enemies really. Had we done any “good works” at that point in our enemyship to “earn” God’s love? Of course not. We were His enemies. Based on the time line for this act of sacrificial love – “we were yet sinners” – it is clear that God’s love for us is not based on performance. We don’t have to perform to earn God’s love.
What does this have to do with extending God’s love to others? It works like this. When I believe that God really loves me; when I live in the full assurance of His love and acceptance – independent of what I bring to the table – as promised in Romans 5 and elsewhere, I have a tremendous freedom to give myself away in service to others. I am not a prisoner of or overly concerned about others thoughts and opinions about me. I am not looking to others to satisfy my need for self-worth, love, or acceptance. In short, our interactions become driven by ministry, not by manipulation.
Dwight Edwards writes in Revolution Within, “Only grace-soaked saints can become grace-dispensing servants.” I would contend that it is the same with love. Only love-soaked saints can become love-dispensing servants.