When you love like Christ you trade your advantage for His. A self-interest driven world only leads to destruction. God’s love heals! God’s love through us points people to the way home. You can’t force people to accept the only true way of salvation found in Christ alone, but you can love them and shine a light that leaves them with no excuse.
Biblical love goes deeper than a definition. Biblical love is demonstrated. The bible never really defines love per se; it describes it with actions. Love is more than a definition; love is action leaping off the page of scripture and into our world as God uses us to be salt and light to a world that has not properly defined what true love is.
Jesus didn’t just define love; He demonstrated love. It has been said, “Jesus defined love in terms of sacrificial actions rather than words or emotions.” The greatest demonstration of love is found in looking at the cross in your heart and in your minds eye before you interact with others. No one could take His life. He gave His life. That is love.
The very character of God is love and His character seeks to work through His born again creation for the sake of those outside the faith. God’s love for the world and for those inside the faith shouldn’t be missing from the Christ follower’s life. Love is only loving when it acts. The grace that heals the world is God’s relentless love working through you.
Demonstrate the love of 1 Corinthians 13 today and you will be walking in the power of God’s love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
You have nothing and you gain nothing without the eternal love of God working through your life. God is love; therefore, love is vital. 1 John 4 commands us to love one another because love is from God. The fruit of being born of God and the fruit of knowing God is the love of God seeking to work through you.
God’s love is relentless toward the world. God’s love is relentless toward you. Therefore, His relentless love should be relentless through each of us. It’s time we look inside the church family to see how well we’re loving one another. We need to get it right in house in order to truly get it right out there in the world.
The world is looking for an alternative community that fills the empty God void of their lives. The problem is not so much the world if you think about it. The world is doing what it’s supposed to do. The world is a dark place and has learned to live in that ever-increasing darkness.
The world functions in their darkness. They play by the rules of darkness. It’s not until children of the light love them like Christ that they awake to the emptiness of their lives. John 13:34-35 commands Christ followers to love one another in the same way Christ has loved us. The importance of why is found in verse 35 where it teaches, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
The majority of weddings I officiate ask me to use 1 Corinthians 13 as a scripture reading somewhere during the ceremony. It’s often viewed as a stand along poem. However, it must fuller than that!
Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians is about spiritual gifts for the common good of the body of Christ. Chapter 14 then goes on to teach us to pursue love and desire gifts to ministry with. We must never forget that chapter 13 is placed in the middle of those bookends. Love is at the center of God’s alternative community and must be what we are most known for.
1 Corinthians 12:31 (ESV)
31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
The more excellent way is love! The gospel calls us to live a love that is beyond self-interest. If you take love out of your home, out of your community, out of your country or out of the world, you have nothing and you are nothing as it relates to eternal value. You are empty. The world is empty. Godless love is empty love.
You have nothing and you gain nothing without the eternal love of God working through your life.
Don’t believe me yet? Don’t read the next three verses. Let the next three verses read you.
1 Corinthians 13:1-4 (ESV)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Without love, the church should stop calling itself a church. Without love, the Christ follower is not truly following Christ. Without love, neither the church nor the Christ follower lay up anything of eternal value.
WE LOVE HIM BECAUSE HE FIRST LOVED US.
We can’t love Him without loving others. Love is an outflow of a true relationship with God. Love is vital.
Samuel Hamilton in East of Eden once wrote, “Two stories have haunted us and followed us from our beginning. . . . We carry them along with us like invisible tails—the story of original sin and the story of Cain and Abel. And I don’t understand either of them. I don’t understand them at all, but I feel them.
Original sin is the story of the fall of humanity. Adam and Eve disobey God and death had a birthday. The story of Cain and Abel is the story of violence finding its first platform of death and destruction.
Brian Zanhd in his book, Beauty Will Save The World, teaches that the picture of individuals going wrong is seen in the story of Adam and Eve and the picture of civilization going wrong is seen in the story of Cain and Abel.
Separation from God and violence was never God’s plan for us as individuals or for civilization. We were created to reflect the image of God. We were designed to take care of each other. Violence is not the way of the kingdom of God.
God’s rule and reign in the here and now is not through violence and power. His rule and His reign are through the work of the Holy Spirit working not only in us, but through us toward others by the power of love.
Love is the greatest power ever known to man. Love was perfectly demonstrated on the cross. When violence taunted Jesus to fight back, He fought back with love and not violence. He took all the sins of the world and its violence upon himself and said, “It is finished!” He defeated it with love. So must we!
We can only love like God when we move toward God in submission. We must not be violent to get our way. The Gospel was never gifted to us to force upon the sinner. It was gifted to us to love the sinner to the foot of the cross. Violence will always and only be seen as corrupt in God’s sight. (See Genesis 6:11-13)
The Church is called to be God’s new humanity in the world. We are not called to call down fire like James and John wanted to do when Jesus was rejected. They asked to call fire down, and Jesus warned them that they knew not what spirit they were being lead by.
When we live God’s peace to the world, we show forth His lordship. The world system cannot bring peace. Only God can do that, and He did it by the cross. When we follow the politics of forgiveness and redemption, we find that we are following Jesus.
When you and I answer the call to deny self and take up the cross and follow Christ, we are baptized to the imperative call to love our enemies. Christ sending His sheep out among wolves is about love and never about retaliation. I’ve heard it said many ways and it is true…the beauty of love and kindness is most strikingly seen in the darkest of places.
We are called to be light. We are called to walk in His love. Both are done in the darkness, and both cast darkness out. Now walk bold today my friend. Walk in love. You will find you are walking in the footsteps of Christ Himself.
1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
It has been said that, “Love alone is credible; nothing else ought to be believed. This is the achievement, the “work” of faith…to believe that there is such a thing as love…and that there is nothing higher or greater than it…”
When heaven and earth come together, and all things are put to right, It’s my conviction we will not need faith or hope anymore; we will only need and partake of God’s love which is eternal. That is how beautiful and powerful the love of God is.
In this present world, we need faith. In this present world, we need hope. In the world to come we need neither faith nor hope, for God’s love will be complete and all consuming. Death, hell and the grave will be cast away forever.
How powerful and beauty is God’s love I’m referring to? Jesus left all of glory for you and me because of His love. He lived among humanity because of His love. He washed the feet of His disciples showing love that was indescribable. He died upon a cross demonstrating His love for all that will repent and turn to Him for rescuing from their sins.
I think of the beautiful words in Zephaniah 3:17, where the Lord is said to be in their midst, and a mighty one who will rescue them. It goes on to say that he will even rejoice over them with gladness and will quiet them by His very love. It even declares God will gloat over them with loud singing.
Yes, God’s love is great for His children and His love is credible. Even though, the world around you may fall apart, His love will always pull you close to His heart. You are His. If you have been crucified with Christ, you no longer live, but it is Christ who is living on the inside of you.
That’s right my dear friend! God loved you so much when you turned to Him in repentance and faith, He moved in! Yes, God’s love is credible, and that love lives on the inside of you. He choose to love you eternal for His glory alone. There is coming a day, Faith and Hope no more will give way to His eternal love and we will be with Him and the body of Christ forever. Think on that today and know you are eternal loved.
I once read the following quote. “To my children…if I had to choose between loving you and breathing…I would use my last breath to tell you…I love you.”
Jesus was the first to essentially say the same thing from the cross when He drew His last breath and said, “It is finished.” If you listen with your heart you can hear Him say, “I love you.”
You are loved; Just look at the cross and you will see. The Bible teaches in John 15:13, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
Spurgeon says somewhere—“We would almost think that God loved us more than he loves his Son.” The greatest example of God’s love for us was found hanging on a cross. He didn’t just talk about how much He loved us, He showed us how much he loved us.
Romans 5:8 tells us,“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Brennan Manning, in The Ragamuffin Gospel says, “My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ, and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.” What a beautiful and true statement!
Reflect on this today; God unconditionally loves us even though we are incomplete, and His love is ever-pursing a relationship with us who are the height of His creation. You are loved. You are loved. (See John 3:16-17)
“Do not waste time bothering whether you “love” your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.”-C.S. Lewis
Love is an action. God is always in action toward us; therefore, we constantly experience the love of God. God is love. God is unselfish in nature and thus pours His love out upon all. It is the love of God that is the most powerful action and force known to humanity.
God sent His best to this world. Emanuel, God with us. He sent love, (action) wrapped in flesh. God made Himself vulnerable among His creation to demonstrate the depth of His love for us. John 3:17 say, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
Condemnation was already upon us. We were outside of Christ. However, the love of God (action) drew us to him in repentance, and it was His love that won us to Him. That unconditional love in action is the same love we owe the world around us. We owe the world love to win them. (Romans 13:8)
The love of God demonstrated toward us must be passed along through us. It is after all, the overflow that will win the most hardened sinner. So, get out there today and walk in the good works God has created for you in advance and win them with love.
I end with a quote from N.T. Wright. “Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion…”