Finding Our Job in God’s Kingdom
Immediately following his passing, my twitter feed was overflowing with words about Billy Graham. Some lifted up praise for his life of faith, some mourned the loss of him in this world, and some wrestled with a handful of the more complicating factors of his legacy. But the undeniable truth of the matter is that this man preached to hundreds of millions of people over his lifetime, and his work for the Kingdom of God sent ripples throughout our world.
I personally had not encountered much of Billy Graham’s teaching throughout my own journey of faith, and so I was interested in learning more after seeing such an outpouring of love and honor.
One of Billy Graham’s quotes popped up several different times on my feed and struck me as particularly profound and memorable. It reads, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”
I’m immediately drawn to the things that offer clarity about my role in the Kingdom of God. When you’re still trying to understand what your gifts are, it can be hard to see how you fit into the broader mission of the church. Sometimes, teaching in this area is helpful and other times it feels like I’m being told to use gifts I don’t really have.
But hearing that my job is to love offers both freedom and challenge.
This message is freeing because it can be our role regardless of what our gifts might be. Every gift can work towards the goal of loving those around you, of taking our focus off of ourselves for a bit and taking care of our neighbor. You can do this through offering your time, your energy, your teaching, your hugs, your money, your creativity, your influence, and a host of other things with the goal of meeting your community and the world with genuine love, kindness, patience, and care.
Secondly, though loving those around you is a simple charge, it is a challenging one.
How many times have I tried to upgrade my security clearance to be able to convict and judge the people and things around me?
My answer is not impressive.
Healthy conviction, right judgment, and relentless love are all difficult jobs to pull off. We have been charged with love because it is the only one of the three that is mostly within our abilities. Conviction comes from the Spirit of Wisdom itself. God who is Love is the only one able to offer correct judgment. But being the hands and feet of Love in our world—that is within our job description.
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 is a passage often referenced in weddings because of its comprehensive definition of what love ought to look like. But it is important to understand that this text was not originally written about love between spouses—it was actually written to provide guidance to a church community about how to love their neighbors and friends well.
The passage reads, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
It is not our job to judge who is deserving of love and who is not. It is not our job to heap shame on those whose flaws are showing. Things get messy when we try to do the jobs that we are not equipped for, and we end up causing harm and damage to those we have been charged to love.
It is our job to show patience and kindness, be slow to anger, and offer our protection, hope, trust, and perseverance. It is our job to set aside our pride in the name of love. We must become more comfortable asking for forgiveness as well as extending it. A commitment to these expressions of love will not set us up for a life of ease, but they are the things that make up an abundant life, one that draws not from our own strength but that of the God we love.
When we love those around us well and from a place of humility, we get to partner with God in inching our world closer and closer to resembling the Kingdom. I want to carry these words as I continue on in this journey of faith:
“It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge, and my job to love.”
Let’s us remember the life we are called to. Let us remember what we have to give to the world. Let us live in love: offering patience, kindness, and humility in our efforts to lift one another up.
Mckay // @mckayhubbell