Love: The Plumb Line
Please bear with my meditations before I even begin to write the main body. I'm writing about a sensitive topic. I'm writing about a redundant topic. I'm writing about grace and love. Why would grace and love be so sensitive a topic? Maybe it will cause guilt, condemnation, and conviction to those not living out these traits in their every day life. Maybe it will cause anger to those who believe they are living a grace filled life even though they are not. Maybe it will affirm and encourage you in your walk. I don't know. Everyone will have their own take on this writing. Whatever the case, I encourage you to read on.
The question I ask myself and others when they assess their own form of Christianity is this: are we walking in true agape love? Not just receiving it, but giving it out too? Love must be the driving inspirational force of a life, of a church, not power, not ministry, not prophesy, not healing, not efficiency, not excellence, and not all the other myriad things that tempt the Christian to compromise their ultimate calling. Agape love must reign supreme. It must be on the ascendancy.
It's true: by experiencing God's love and giving it out, we then experience all the other fruits of the Holy Spirit, not the other way around. We love because he first loved us. God is love and when we spend time (abide) with Love, we produce the fruit of Christ-like character and Christ-like gifts (John 15). By abiding in Love we bear much fruit. I believe John 15 speaks to this.
How do we treat the weak? How do we view the sinner? How do we honor those who don't deserve honor, let alone those who do? How do we speak truth in love? How do I love my spouse. How do I love my children? Hey, when I look at 1 Corinthians 13, I see my shortcomings, my failures, I fall on my face before God and cry out, "Help me become more like you, God." He will answer this prayer (1 John 5:14-15). He will answer your petitions.
1 Corinthians 13 is the plumb line on whether our life is meeting up to God's standards. If there is no love, then there is no life. It's just that simple. If there is no love, then there is no church. If there is no love, then there is no Christianity. If there is no love, then we have become useless to the Kingdom of God and even to this world.
Nevertheless, this is the beautiful thing about Christianity: 1 Corinthians 13 convicts but it also gives hope. God is love (1 Jn 4:8). This means He is patient, kind, not jealous (in a fleshly way), not a braggart, not arrogant, not easily angered, forgetful of wrongs suffered, and does not act unbecomingly. He is all the beautiful character facets of 1 Corinthians 13 and more. He directs all His refractions of love towards us, the ones who fall short, the ones trying but failing. We can grow because we are loved. Judgment never grows people up. It only curses the giver and receiver. Jesus came to save and not judge. Jesus' love grows us up. It's His kindness that leads us to repentance. We become better as we hang out with Him.We become better as we love one another.
Please understand that agape love can be characterized in many ways. It can be tough. It can offend. It can appear mean. Jesus rebuked his disciples harshly for their immaturity on many occasions. He challenged them. He even told His premier disciple, Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!"The motivation, however, was a deep love for Peter and his fellow fishermen, and it must be the same for us. He believed in them. "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13
Love you folks. Continue to grow in His love.