“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.”
I Corinthians 13:1-8 NKJV
This is the day we salute love. On this day many will spend much on tokens to demonstrate their love for a mate, a partner, or whatever culturally appropriate title you prefer. In every case the person who is the recipient is truly desired.
Today I dwell on a different love.
“For God so loved the world, He gave His only Begotten Son…”
When He gave His Son, the gift was rejected. Jesus came to give the gift of Himself and He was rejected and abused, by those he had come to save. He came to demonstrate true love, love in the face of hate.
I wonder if I could show such love. When I read the passage above, I am so convicted. I read the actions of love and I wonder about my own motivation. So often I do the things under the guise of ministry, but wonder if there is truly love. How much of what I do is done by habit or by rote. Do I really love? When my efforts are met with rejection, am I willing to continue to love and continue serving?
What about the love that Jesus demonstrated. He loved the authorities who hated Him, He loved the crowds who shouted crucify Him, He loved the Roman guards who beat Him, and nailed Him to the cross. He then showed the greatest love of all as He paid for the sins of the world, chief of all, mine.
We are in a contentious time. When I consider the sum of all that is happening in the world, I get a sense that there is an urgency to be about the Father’s work. I feel that time is running out for the Gospel to go forth in peace.
There is increasing hostility to the Gospel as the culture has embraced the will of the flesh. Pleasure reigns in every aspect of our culture. Pursuit of whatever feels good is the driving force in the world. The Gospel seems like a cosmic killjoy as the comparison of life in Christ runs headlong into life in sin. It is like a bowl of vegetables laid next to a bowl of ice cream. The ice cream looks so good. Too much ice cream, though, leads to sickness and death.
Too often we have opted to push the veggies without seasoning. Our Gospel presentation is bland, all too often bitter. We fail to emphasis the joy of our salvation and the grace that God has bestowed on us. We forget that the grace is to be shared. We become so focused on the particular sins of others that we fail to see the people. We forget that sinners are going to sin. They cannot help it We forget that we were sinners too. The difference is that we have come to know Jesus and are forgiven. We have the Holy Spirit to give us the power to resist the draw of our sin nature.
We also forget about the nature of God’s grace. We have no righteousness of our own. It is all God, a gift that we did nothing to deserve. We bring nothing to the table.
On the other side of the love equation, there are those who overlook the sin and focus on affirmation. This is the worst kind of hatred. By not telling people the truth, we are loving them into hell. They need to know that the wages of sin is death. The Gospel must go out. The focus is on making people feel good, safe. There is no safe space in hell.
The key is finding the balance as we seek to tell of a loving God who is also just. Love is the balance. I battle daily to release my biases so that I can see others through the behaviors. I seek to see as Jesus did. Jesus knew the hearts of all, yet He loved.
I need to be relentless in sharing the truth and even more so in loving. The stakes are high and souls are at stake. On this day of love, let’s seek to show the love of Jesus today. Let grace abound.