“[Love] bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:7-8a
Over the weekend, the Holy Spirit nudged me. Three times. About love.
My husband and I attended an outdoor funeral—an unexpected, tragic death of a young woman. The pastor spoke of how her life was marked by genuine love for others, recounting significant memories of her by friends and family. As I pondered this great loss, I reflected on my own legacy. Would someone say that about me at my funeral? That my life could be summed up in one word…love?
At church, our pastor Andy Wyatt picked up the “love baton” and preached on the attributes of the early believers in Acts 2:42-47. They cared for each other, joyfully, selflessly—devoted to fellowship, worship together, prayer, and sharing material goods. They lived out their love in everyday life, in ordinary ways, reflecting the love of Christ. The result? An explosion of the gospel…the Lord added to their numbers daily those who were being saved.
Then, in our Sunday School Zoom discussion, we touched on the first section of Revelation. Christ is described by His apostle John as the One who “loved us and washed [freed] us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father” (Revelation 1:5b-6a). Jesus loved us so deeply and sacrificially—enduring a horrible, painful, humiliating death to make us free from slavery to sin. On top of that, He made us royal members of His kingdom.
So what does Christianity have to do with love? Everything. It’s not just a by-product of our faith in Jesus Christ. It’s not just an admonition or commandment. It’s who and what He is. It’s the essence of our relationship with our Lord and Creator. It’s our entire mission, our only motivation. It’s our raison d’être.
If that’s true, then all of who follow Jesus should be the most loving people on earth. It’s sad when we’re not…especially when we follow our own selfish whims and pride instead of pouring out the love of Christ on others.
I have a hunch that the Holy Spirit was convicting me through this weekend chain of “love letters”…reminding me that I haven’t been the most loving person during this COVID pandemic. I’ve let my anxiety over contagion push me away from others. If I look at the shopping list of love qualities in 1 Corinthians 13, I’m afraid I’ve come up rather short:
I’ve lost my temper when I should have been patient. I’ve been rude when I should have been kind. I’ve put envy, greed (can you say “hoarding”?), and pride ahead of love—dishonoring others, serving only myself, and holding grudges. I’ve judged when I should have forgiven. I’ve complained when I should have praised and rejoiced in God’s truth. I haven’t always protected, trusted, hoped. I definitely haven’t persevered, at times languishing in a shutdown-induced malaise. Ouch.
If love is what we’re really supposed to be about, I need a change of attitude and altitude, starting on my knees with prayer—confession of sin, asking for forgiveness, and asking the Holy Spirit for a fresh heart-blood infusion of love. I need to start living as if I truly love others so that my attitudes will follow my actions.
Friends, will you join me in this? Will you ask the Lord of love to send you in a new direction? Will you recognize your need for His grace and let it flow through you to others?
If so, I think we’ll see this pandemic in a new light…infused with a joy and peace that comes from loving Christ and others more than self. Others will see us in a new light, too. They’ll want what we have. They’ll want to know more about a Person who transforms us from unloving creatures into beacons of His love and light.
The good news about Christian love is that it knows no boundaries, requires no skills or experience, and isn’t dependent on education, wealth, race, gender, age, or nationality. The more you give of it, the more you have. It prospers the health of your soul. Love never fails.
Hudson Taylor, a noteworthy missionary in the 19th century, founded the China Inland Mission to reach the Far East for Christ. In his work, he often interviewed prospective missionaries and would ask them why they wanted to go to the mission field. Some answered that Christ had commanded it, that millions were perishing without Him, etc. Taylor’s answer was this: “All of these motives, however good, will fail you in times of testings, trials, tribulations, and possible death. There is but one motive that will sustain you in trial and testing: namely, the love of Christ.” It was the amazing love of Christ that kept Taylor going until his death.*
Today, like Taylor, dwell on the love of Christ for you in the midst of trials. Let Him use your hands, your words, and your actions to love others. Ask Him to walk beside you in these muddy highways of pandemic stress, to hold you and keep you from falling. Ask Him to be the love of your life.
Jesus, Lord of love, teach me how to love well. Let Your Holy Spirit pour Your love into me, a divine gift I desire intensely. Forgive me when I’ve fallen so far off track through my selfish desires. Renew a right spirit within me, and make mine a life marked by Your love. In Your sacrificial name, O Christ, Amen.
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© Copyright 2020 Nancy C. Williams, Lightbourne Creative