The Fire of Love

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  Psalms 23:4 NKJV

Journeying with a loved one who is critically ill in the hospital intensive care unit brought me face to face with the hard truth that all of us will have to walk through the valley of the shadow of death – some of us are currently walking in the valley, some have walked out of the valley and some will be walking into the valley at some time or other. The dark times of our lives reveal what is in our hearts. In these times our faith is tested by the fire of love:

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” 1 Peter 1:7 NLT

In such times, the fire of love may feel like a refining fire as we struggle to understand the judgment of God and the love of God. When our hearts are filled with greed, pride and lust, we are enslaved  by sin, self-righteousness and Satan. These sins keep us from the kingdom of heaven. God’s judgment is against the sin of greed; the self-righteousness of pride; and Satan who tempts us through the lusts of the flesh. God’s judgment is the refining fire of love to lead us from an idolatrous faith in wealth, health and success to a repentant faith in Christ crucified so that we can live as God’s beloved children:

“His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him – though he is not far from any one of us. For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.” Acts of the Apostles 17:27-‬28 NLT

Walking through such a dark valley, I am confronted to search my heart – “Is Jesus truly Lord of my life?”, “Am I walking each day with the Spirit?.” “Am I trying to master life or to be mastered by the Spirit for the glory of God?” The storms of life reveal how I have been building my life on the Rock of Christ:

“Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-‬13 NLT

God’s refining fire is a reminder that we are saved by grace and not by our works. Our acts of kindness flow spontaneously from our walk with the Spirit – we are not driven to be do-gooders.  In the parable of the sheep and the goats we see that the sheep are not aware of the good they had done and the goats are not aware of the good they had not done:

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink?  Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing?  When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matthew 25:37-‬40 NLT

All the work that I do for God through my own self efforts are of no value if the underlying motive is pride. It is only what the Holy Spirit does through me that is of any value. It is not what we do or have done but whether we know Christ and that Christ knows us. It is whether our lives are Christ-centred or self-centred:

“Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.  On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’  But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ Matthew 7:21-23 NLT

The fire of love is a consuming fire that burns away the false self of our egos so that “it is no longer I who lives, but Christ.” When Christ is in us, we will know and fully understand the divinity of Christ.  Only then can we be the channels of His teachings and miracles:

“But I have a greater witness than John—my teachings and my miracles. The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that he sent me.” John 5:36 NLT

“But if I do his work, believe in the evidence of the miraculous works I have done, even if you don’t believe me. Then you will know and understand that the Father is in me, and I am in the Father.” John 10:38 NLT

The fire of love is a purifying fire that burns away self righteousness which keeps us from receiving Jesus as our Lord and Saviour:

“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!  Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” John 5:39-‬40 NLT

“Anyone who belongs to God listens gladly to the words of God. But you don’t listen because you don’t belong to God.” John 8:47 NLT

When Jesus is our Shepherd of Love, we can walk in the valley of the shadow of death with no fear even when we go through the fire of love. It is a refining fire to lead us from a superstitious faith to true faith in the crucified Christ – to live out the truth that “it is no longer I who lives but Christ who lives in me.” Love will then be the hallmark our faith.

It is a consuming fire to burn away our guilt so that we will be filled with the unspeakable joy of salvation. It is a purifying fire to transform our minds and fill them with the peace that is beyond all human understanding.  And the fire of love becomes our light to lead us out of our valley of deepest darkness.

When our heart’s one desire is to be holy and to be set apart for our Master, we will experience the fire of love as God’s refining fire to purify our hearts:

“Refiner’s fire
My heart’s one desire
Is to be holy
Set apart for You, Lord
I choose to be holy
Set apart for You, my Master
Ready to do Your will”


Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s