Yesterday the message in church was about love. I had been reading over the verses about love in 1 Corinthians lately because I questioned how I was handling a situation in my life. Some of what the speaker yesterday said was a little hard to hear because of course as you listen to messages in church you don’t want to think they apply to you!! So, again this morning I went back to those verses. As I read them I stopped at each one and asked myself “how am I doing with that?” The truth, in my heart, was that I wasn’t doing quite as well as I thought…
1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (the message)
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t have love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up. Have I given up?
Love cares more for others than for self. Do I care more about my needs?
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Do I want things I don’t have?
Love doesn’t strut, Am I proud?
Doesn’t have a swelled head, Do I have a swelled sense of importance?
Doesn’t force itself on others, Am I trying to get my own way?
Isn’t always “me first,” Am I insisting on having my wants/needs met first?
Doesn’t fly off the handle, Do I lose my temper easily?
Doesn’t keep scores of the sins of others, Am I keeping a list of offenses?
Doesn’t revel when others grovel, Do I make people “work” for forgiveness?
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Do I truly love truth, even for me?
Puts up with anything, Have I drawn a line for what I will/will not put up with?
Trusts God always, Am I trusting God, no matter what He asks of me?
Always looks for the best, Am I seeing the best or the worst in others?
Never looks back, Am I focused on the past or what God will do in days ahead?
But keeps going to the end. Am I determined not to let go? To finish my race?
The truth is that being a member of a great church, volunteering, reading my Bible and even trying to write on a little blog are not signs or evidence of a heart yielded to God’s Love. Those are all things I can do. Those are all things that to a great degree, I can produce in my life. Hopefully as I do those things I am led by the Holy Spirit and His purposes. But those things, alone, are just the “creaking of a rusty gate” in my life. Perhaps the evidence of God’s Love, the kind in the verses above, can be seen in what I could never produce…changed hearts and lives. God’s Love, His determination to see me to the finish line…to never give up on me…to nail the scorecard of my sin to the Cross…to put up with my waywardness…to see the best in me…are the very reasons it is safe to love Him. And it is His love in my life that makes it safe for me to love others this way. Even when I just about choke on what God shows me in myself sometimes…when it seems like walking on broken glass to live this way…there is always freedom in the truth. Freedom from the constraints of protecting and fighting for my rights the way humans do. Freedom to let go, love others and trust God with the results.