The phrase “wearing your heart on your sleeve” is a funny one to me. I suppose that there are some who imagine this cute picture of someone with a valentine sewn onto the arm of their shirt. I, however, think of this as a little more literal – as if our physical, beating heart is pumping away in our upper arm (however, that probably makes me weird – sorry if that grosses you out).
Regardless, we each probably know some people who simply can’t hide how they are feeling. When they are happy, their entire gait is lilting and cheerful. When they are sad, their shoulders are hunched and their walk is morose. When they are with someone they love (especially when it is new, romantic love), they have a big, goofy grin on their face.
While others express their emotions more subtly than this, I think that just about everyone shows how they feel in one way or another. Expressions make it obvious what we care about. They are the windows through which the core of our heart makes itself visible (sort of like a gap under the door of a child’s room, showing that their light is still on…well after bedtime!).
In the same way, I think that the choice of words in the following translation of Galatians 5:6 is an appropriate one:
For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.
Galatians 5:6 NLT
(This principle can also be translated as “faith working through love”, which may imply more active participation on our part. Nothing wrong with that!)
In this verse, love is the expression of faith. Like oil being “expressed” from plant seeds, the oil is what comes out when pressure is applied. So, what is required for love to be expressed as a result of faith in our lives?
First, we must have faith. Loving someone might be possible without faith, but what better way to love, than following the example of a God whose character is love? (And, this isn’t just some sort of mushy, goofy, unicorns-and-sparkles emotional love. As I understand it, God’s love derives from His holiness, so His love is both completed and complemented by justice).
Secondly, we must let that faith become visible. There are times and a places to tell someone about our faith, but if there is no visible result, impact, or effect of our faith (in addition to our words), is it really faith? If we believe in a God who loves us and loves others, and if we have faith that Jesus gave his life for us, but that doesn’t change anything in how we live, what sort of irrational or ungrateful “faith” is that?
I hope that you will participate in what this verse identifies as important. Make sure that your faith is aligned with the Source of all good things, and let that faith emanate out of you, in love. In God’s definition, love is a deep and complex thing, but a later verse from this same chapter of Galatians defines service to others as a means to express this love.
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.
Galatians 5:13 NLT
For a more thorough evaluation of what results faith is producing in your life, check out these two passages:
- Galatians 5:19-21: The results of allowing our sinful nature to work in our lives. (Bad!)
- Galatians 5:22-23: The results of allowing the Holy Spirit of God to work in our lives. (Good!)
And, if what is being expressed in your life is something other than righteousness, take a moment (as I must do, periodically) to make sure that your heart is aligned with the sort of faith that produces good results under pressure.