devotional

05JAN
2013

Love

     Love is for the mature. St. Paul describes love as an absolutely indispensable part of the Christian faith. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 he speaks of it as the greatest of the great. It is a gift that Scripture says has been shed abroad in our hearts by God, Romans 5:5. After all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are outlined in 1 Corinthians 12 Paul moves into an examination of love saying: “Earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.” Love itself, above all else, is that more excellent way.

 

     I have so often failed to live as if this passage (the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 13) really meant something to me. I have so often failed in loving others, especially the unlovable, in a manner worthy of God. There is a gentleness in God that beckons me to lay down my own weaknesses in this. It beckons me to fight in a different way than the world fights.

 

     There are lots of opinions in the world. People argue for them a whole lot. Shoot, debate classes in education have the habit of teaching us that it’s not necessarily the one who’s right that wins debates, but rather the one who can argue best who wins. People fight for opinions and beliefs without rest. Christians too are called to fight for the faith. If you’re not fighting you do not love. We’re literally called to lives of contention in Jude 3. The range, scale and tenor of that fight is sometimes immense. Are we loving as we do it? As we engage in our fight as believers we can resort to all manner of things that are not proper. Of all the problems we have I think we struggle wrongly when we feel that it’s our fight yet to win. What I mean is that Christ has already overcome the world, John 16:33. It’s done. We should not fight as though this was not true. We don’t fight for a political pundit; our fight should be colored by the knowledge that the one we fight for created the universe. He’s not running for God or something! He could crush the world and hasn't done so. How should we fight in light of that? God has chosen the church. He doesn’t need a single one of us (Acts 17:25) yet He uses us. He’s chosen the foolishness of the message preached to save His elect, 1 Corinthians 1:21. If God was so patient as to choose us sinners and endure with us still, how should we now fight the good fight? How much should love consume us?

 

     Paul is the one who wrote 1 Corinthians 13 and yet he once called down blindness on a man in opposition to his message, Acts 13:11. He spoke of delivering blasphemers to Satan, 1 Timothy 1:20. He called us to judge within the body, 1 Corinthians 5:9-13. He turned away from Jewish listeners to the Gentiles, Acts 13:46. The call to love is not a call to passivity or political games. It’s instead a call to recall the one who could have called twelve legions of angels to rescue Him but didn’t, Matthew 26:53. Jesus personified it for us. Unlike Him, we’re sinful. God should have crushed us. All of us without exception deserve His eternal wrath, but instead He sent His Spirit into us and adopted us as His own, Ephesians 1:5. A fighter that really knows a God like this, in maturity, will fight with a different fight than the heathen. He or she will know the truth, and love, in that truth, will free them to love others in a manner worthy of a discipleship with Jesus.

 

     We don’t have opinions; we have Christ. We preach not ourselves, but Christ crucified. Love frees us from sin. 2 Thessalonians 3:5.

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