Love Never Ends-Abide in My Love Series

love never endsAs this series draws to a close in this post I can say it is the perfect closing to the year for me.  I feel I can finish strong.  I know that this theme has taught and served me well, but more importantly that these verses bring so much glory to the name of Christ.  And I am so thankful that I have had the chance to share them and my thoughts with you.  I pray that as we all enter this Advent season, we will see Jesus as our Hope, Light, Peace, Joy and most importantly our Love.

Paul tells us that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (vs.6).  Jesus dined with sinners and sought them out to heal and save them, but he did not rejoice in their wrongdoings.  He rejoiced in the truth.  He rejoiced when a woman had the faith to reach out and touch just the fringe of his garment as he passed by and he healed her (Matthew 9:20).  He marveled and rejoiced at the faith of the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his beloved servant with just word while still traveling.  He rejoiced as the woman poured alabaster on his feet and wiped them with her own tears and hair, kissing them.

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:44-48)

He knew the truth was that they all had faith in Him and that they recognized him as the Christ. As we navigate our lives abiding in His Love, we need to remember to rejoice in this truth and seek out others who need his love. Speak it into the lives of your husbands and children, your neighbors, even your enemies.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.(Ephesians 4:15-16)

Now, let us look closely at the last 5 attributes that Paul gives to his personified “love”in verses 7 and 8.

Love bears all things. ~ Bearing the weight of suffering, sickness, tribulation, loss, grief, and temptation does not have to be done alone.  Love bears it all. His love is enough to carry you through.  For he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Love is also finding genuine joy when the truth prevails in someone else’s life.

Love believes all things. ~ Jesus does not hold our sin against us.  Once we believe and call him Lord, we are forgiven and are clothed in his righteousness.  This is a hard thing to grasp in our minds.  We are forgiven.  So as Christians, we are called to love others, forgive others their trespasses and not to count up their wrongs in resentment.  Believing the best in others can be hard as we pick out faults and areas that we believe they need improvement and growth, but that is between them and the Lord. Love them, trust them and believe the best in them.

Love hopes all things. ~ Our God is the God of hope. (Romans 15:13) And we have every reason to hope in him. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24) Having and understanding the hope we have in Christ aids us in our calling to love others. Regardless of one’s faults, we know that there is hope for them in every circumstance in Christ.

Love endures all things. ~ The trials of this life can threaten our relationships with others. Loving others the way Christ loves us takes endurance.  But fear not! We have our strength in HIM! By the power of the Holy Spirit grace upon grace is poured out bringing peace, hope, and love.  We can endure, because of his love for us. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5, ESV)

Love never ends. ~ Paul compares love to the spiritual gifts of prophecy, knowledge and languages which the Corinthians highly valued.  Those things will all pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) Love in all its glory is divine. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4 :15-16). Love will outlast all, even the sins and failures of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Love characterizes the life of a believer. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, we are to live out love in all we think, say, and do.

So my sweet sisters and brothers in Christ, Abide in His Love.

 

Advertisements

Love is Not Irritable or Resentful- Abide in My Love Series

Abstracto-12

 

What causes us to get irritated at another person? Is it a lack of patience? Are some people just able to push all the wrong buttons? Maybe, but the root of our irritability goes deeper yet.  It stems from our own desires and wants.  It grows from a selfish attitude.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2)

When I get irritated it is almost 100% of the time because I am putting my own wants and desires above the needs of others.  I get irritated because my heart is focused on what I want.  I want my children to be quieter in the grocery store so I can avoid the aggravated looks from strangers as my boys fight like ninjas in the isles and my 3 year old daughter screams for cookies.  I speak to them, irritated, because I selfishly want others to see me as a good parent.

I get irritated in my marriage because I get too caught up in the little things that do not matter.  I stress over the dishes and laundry and forget to just love my husband and put his needs first.  More joy comes from snuggling on the couch talking with him about his day than running around doing silly chores while complaining about having to do them.  And he would rather me be in his arms and have my attention than have a spotless kitchen and clean clothes in his drawer.

Lately my own worst enemy that causes me to be irritable is my iPhone. I am horribly and shamefully addicted. Like Pavlov’s dogs I pick it up immediately when it rings, no matter what I am doing.  I get sucked into that email or article or weather report or,  Facebook {BUM, BUM, BUUMMMM}  My children interrupt to ask for something and I lash out in frustration because I am trying to read an email or write a text. Here is a link to a great blog post about Distracted Parenting for those of you who struggle in this area.

distactedparenting

 

Biblically, how do we stop this sinful behavior of irritability?

Proverbs 17:14 says,

“The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”

It starts out small, so looking for triggers and being aware of them keeps us from letting the flood gates open.  Walking in love will help us to humble ourselves in thanksgiving and serve with love and patience.  Taking a moment of pray can plug that little leak in the dam.  Are you getting irritated because you are putting your wants and desires above the needs of others? Remember, love is putting others needs before our own and doing so expecting nothing in return. We have our Lord Jesus as our perfect example of this sacrificial love.  

This leads us into the last part of verse 5, “Love is not resentful”.  In Greek,  this verse reads, “Love is not irritable and does not count up wrongdoing”.   In Christ, we have been blessed by God, and are counted righteous apart from works. (Romans 4:6)

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)

God does not count up wrongdoing to those who are his in Christ.  When he looks upon us, he sees his righteous Son.  He loves us and we are called to abide in His love.  We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Loving others takes sacrifice.  And Jesus showed us this to the greatest degree, giving his own life for us to have life eternally with him.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

When we love others, we keep no record of wrongs.  We forgive and forget. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches his disciples and us that praying for forgiveness of our sins requires that we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us. “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4).  Withholding forgiveness and having resentment towards others is not love.  It is not the love God has shown to us and and the love he commands us to have toward one another.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Some questions to ask ourselves:

1. What is it that really causes you to get irritated? Consider what might trigger it and aim to stop it in its tracks with God’s word hidden in your heart.

2. Are you letting your own desires and wants cloud your thoughts and not putting others first? Remember “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:24)

3. Is there someone in your life that you are counting up wrongdoing? Are you keeping a mental record of wrongs in your heart causing you to resent someone and not love them? Seek to forgive them and ask for forgiveness for your own sin.

As we enter this Season of Thanksgiving, let us remember all we have to be thankful for in our Lord and Savior.  For thankfulness will produce praise and rejoicing in our hearts and when we have the Joy of the Lord as our strength, loving others will not be a burden, but a delight.  Have a blessed day!

Love is not Proud- Abide in My Love Series

pride

On those sweet mornings when I can actually be up for an hour or two before the kids wake up, I enjoy the solitude and spend some extra time in prayer.  I am usually sitting in my comfy recliner all covered up with a cozy blanket and warm drink by my side and my Bible, journal, or prayer notebook in my lap. But this past week, it felt wrong.  I was drawn on several occasions to my knees in prayer and the transformation in my heart and attitude was powerful!  I mean seriously on my knees,  face down on the couch cushion or bedside drenching it in tears and humbled before my God.  It was out of conviction that I found myself there.  As I was reading verse after verse about pride, arrogance, and conceit I saw how my own pride had been keeping me submerged in myself.  I did not have a humble servant’s heart, but instead was living in my own thoughts and wants.

We all have the sin of pride in varying degrees. As it has been said, “Pride is the root of all sin”.  Different translations of the Bible say in this verse that love is not “proud, arrogant, conceited or puffed up.”  Do any of those adjectives describe a person you would say is loving?  Maybe loving themselves.  In fact, they are so consumed with self and possessions, there is no room for love of others.  And this is exactly why pride is so detrimental to love.  It puts self first and its priorities are on the things of this world.

Pride is competitive in nature and makes a person try and lift himself above others. This will never produce harmony or unity, but only conflict and division. It builds up walls and barriers and leaves no room for humble service.  It is in direct opposition of Jesus’ call to “love one another”.

If you do a word study of “pride, proud or arrogance” in the Bible, you will not have to read very many references to see what an abomination the Lord considers pride to be. Here is a quick sampling of verses.

Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. (Psalm 101:5)

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)

“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. (Proverbs 21:24)

Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. (Psalm 31:18)

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. (Proverbs 21:4)

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

These are the verses that brought me to my knees in tears.  I confess I was proud.  You see, I was exalting myself and wanting the glory.  I was more eager to get what I wanted than to die to myself and serve my family with love.  I was serving, but not always without complaining.

Then after the confession, I turned to scripture again. I was seeking Him. My heart was humbled and the Lord alone did that.

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:11, repeated again in vs. 17)

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:37)

When we are proud, we are scattered in our own thoughts.  In Mary’s Song she says “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:51-52). But humility gets us out of our own heads and sets our sights on God.  Only then can love pour forth to others, out from our hearts full of thankfulness.  Loving one another requires a humble servant’s heart.  Jesus showed us exactly what that looks like.

In Philippians 2, Paul is instructing the Church to serve one another in love.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4) 

In Christ Jesus we have a perfect example of a humble servant.  Jesus was not proud or boastful, although he had every right to be. He had a willingness to deprive himself of his exalted status.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

In the footnotes of my NIV Bible it says he did not count equality with God a thing to be “asserted”.  He could have used it to his own advantage, but chose not to. His humility was a process of emptying himself, taking and being found in human form and dying.

And in direct response to His obedience, the Father restored him to His glorious heavenly status that he always had from the beginning, but willingly relinquished for a time.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

His humiliation led to his exaltation. And so it must be for us.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:1-3)

I can keep my eyes on Jesus and by his grace and grace alone, love and serve others for their good.  For God “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). And out of humility, I can consider others more significant than myself.  “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way” (Psalm25:9).   But my reward will be great in heaven, “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

Are you humbly serving others in love, or are you putting yourself first? Consider the cross and see the grace Jesus has given us. Though we may be unappreciated, taken for granted or even persecuted in our service here on earth, we have a Savior that deserved even more and suffered to the point of death, because he cared for us.

 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

 

Love is Patient- Abide in My Love Series

loveispatient

“Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

The good Lord has given me ample opportunity this week to be patient.  And when I failed (every time I failed) I vented my frustrations without thinking.  Words just spilled out along with a bad attitude.  Immediate conviction sets in.  Patience is not easy, especially for those who fight pride on a daily basis (Imagine a big flashing arrow blinking over my head right now).

Why is it so hard to listen to a second grader take 30 minutes to read 6 pages out of his emerging reader? Why do I snap at my husband over his socks being on the floor of the dining room again (at least he is consistent).  Why do I lose my cool when inanimate objects fall, break, or seemingly jump in from of me causing me to stub my toe? (This one really seems ridiculous upon reflection.)

Even more convicting is the many stories of bold Christians enduring persecution and even death for the sake of their faith and their love of Jesus Christ.  They are giving their lives in obedience to the command to “love one another” while I struggle to patiently love my faithful, loving husband and precious children.

I will tell you it is harder for me on days where I have been rushing and have not had time in prayer or God’s word.   But in those moments when I am choosing to put others first, listening, praying, and forgetting about my own wants and desires, the Holy Spirit pours forth the patience and I am abiding in the love of Christ.  It is a gift, and a choice.  It is there waiting to be asked for and when I humbly come knocking, seeking, asking, it is opened, found and received.

In the first post of the Abide in My Love Series, we defined Jesus’ love for us through the eyes of the gospel of His grace.  Oh how marvelous is the grace of our loving Lord, poured out for us at the cross as the ultimate sacrifice. And this loving sacrifice cultivates in us humility to love others.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Paul describes love as having the qualities of a person to give us an example of what it looks like to “love one another”.   I believe he can undoubtedly be describing Jesus Christ. He is our example of love, and if “love is patient”, then he will be perfect in it.

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16)

As Paul describes to Timothy in his letter, he received mercy because he had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of the Lord overflowed for him with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:13-14) And what was Paul’s reaction to this gift of grace?  He made Christ the foremost of himself. For Jesus’ sake he suffered the loss of all things and counted them as rubbish, in order that he may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8) That is SACRIFICE OF SELF.

How else does God show patience?

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

He cares that much that he is willing to wait until more know him and can become his children.   Oh how powerful it would be if the next time we were under the afflictions of another, instead of letting anger take control we said to ourselves, “I am willing to endure this pain silently in the hopes that my patience and love for them might lead them into repentance.”

The King James Version uses the term “long-suffering” in Galatians 2:22 when it is listed as a fruit of the Spirit. And in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is says “Charity suffereth long”.

The Greek translation is makrothyméō – to be of long spirit, not to lose heart, to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.

We can conclude that patience is passive. One scholar defined it as the quality of putting up with other people, even when sorely tried.  We are called to be patient in this love for one another.  Let’s look at some passages that define our calling a little more.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

This “quickness to listen and slowness to speak and to be angered” is patience.  James contrasts it here with anger.  Whether you are annoyed and offended by another person’s actions or are the victim of their affliction, keeping silent goes a long way.  If the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, than we can conclude that patience does. Consider this verse.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2 Timothy 2:22-25)

If we are pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace, then we are avoiding conflict and being kind while “patiently enduring evil”, and correcting others with gentleness.  It is a sacrifice of self, this love that Jesus commands from us. And patience is the first step; it is love doing nothing.  Then from patience we are in the right place to give kindness and gentleness.  But if we let our hurt and frustrations come screaming to the forefront, there is no room left for the kindness and gentleness, without first seeking forgiveness.

How else are we called to be patient? In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains what he meant by the seeds that fell on the good soil.

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)

When we are abiding in Christ, His love, and His Word, we will bear fruit WITH PATIENCE. “For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) They all go together, you cannot have one and not the other.

In Ephesians 4:2 we are called to “walk in it”.

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)

In Colossians 3:12 we are called to “clothe ourselves in it”.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (Colossians 3:12)

In 2 Corinthians 6:4-8, Paul describes how we can suffer yet endure with patience.

But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true. (2 Corinthians 6:4-8)

In Romans 12:12, Paul calls us to be patient in tribulation.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:9-12)

And in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul calls us to be patient with all sorts of characters.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

The Lord teaches us and enables us to love, as God loves and to be patient, as Christ is patient.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves.

  1. What current situation calls for you to have patience?
  2. What person or situation is causing you the most pain right now?
  3. What attitude do you think God desires from you in this situation, especially when you consider the patience of Christ?

It is far easier for us to give into our emotions and anger when someone has hurt us, than it is to practice patience.  Sometimes it takes all of God’s strength for us to DO NOTHING.  But when you consider the silence of the Lamb of God as he gave his life for us while we were yet sinners, you can know that the humility and strength we need is God’s free gift to us in His grace and LOVE.

ABIDE IN IT.

If I Have Not Love- Abide in My Love Series

mountainbright

The Church at Corinth that Paul had planted (Acts 18) was struggling. The city had a bad reputation for sexual immorality, religious diversity, and corruption.  It was a city that thrived on trade and as people traveled the route into its heart, so did these issues.  The church began to suffer from these influences and the divisions set in.   Paul’s first letter to them was one urging unity (12:12) and the importance of giving themselves fully to “the work of the Lord” (15:58). Nestled right between these is Chapter 13; a part of his letter that had to have convicted those who were at the heart of these divisions.  It is a passage on the nature and importance of love.  Today we are going to be looking at verse 1-3.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 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. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

No matter how elegantly you may be speaking, if you are not speaking a message of love, you might as well be silent.  I think gongs and cymbals rank right up there with some of the most annoying sounds I have ever heard.  Isn’t it amazing how relevant it was to the people of Corinth around A.D. 55 and is still relevant and amazing imagery for us today in 2013?  Imagine someone you know coming up to you and all you hear is a clanging cymbal when his or her mouth opens.  How long would you stick around to hear what they had to say?  Not long, I am guessing.  Imagine a whole group of people in a room chatting and all you here is noisy gongs.  I would be doing an about face pretty quick and high-tailing it out of that room. Yet so it is with those who speak with no love.

Let us not neglect to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:5) and consider each thought before it reaches our tongues.  Are you speaking to be heard and recognized by others or is your message one of love, meant to be pleasing to the Lord? Our hearts should be swelling with the love our Lord so graciously shows us in His son Jesus Christ.  I love how the Psalmist states it in Psalm 45.

My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address my verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe. (Psalm 45:1)

And what if we have intellect and knowledge, even knowledge of the things of God? Our heads can be filled with every detail of the Bible and we can have doctorates in theology, divinity, evangelism, and discipleship, but if we don’t have love, we are nothing. That knowledge is just another worldly possession that will pass away. (13:8) And even if our faith is so strong as to remove mountains, if it is not a faith in the one who showed us the ultimate example of love, our faith is all for naught.  If we have faith in Jesus Christ and what he did then we are to be living as he did and as he commanded us to.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

To know the love of Christ is to know more than any other knowledge we could gain. And through our knowledge and faith in Him, we hang on to Him with all we have and ground ourselves in His love.

that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19)

Now there is the matter of our service.  Paul emphasizes that even if we give up everything we have and sacrifice our own bodies to be burned, we gain nothing if it is done without love.  In Matthew 6:2-4 Jesus warned against the hypocrisy of giving to be seen by others.  He states,

When you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:2-4)

When our giving is done from a heart of love, the less people that see it the better.  Even keeping the recipient in the dark about where the gift has come from is sometimes necessary.  When God is the only one knowing and seeing our gifs of love, what a sweet reward he will give to us.

Paul is using some heavy exaggeration in his message here.  First he talked about speaking in the tongues of angels, and understanding all mysteries, faith to remove mountains and giving all that you have.  His last example is giving up your body to be burned.  As crazy as it may seem, this actually did happen to three brave men standing up for their faith.  In the book of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar questioned Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as to why they did not serve his gods or worship the golden image of himself that he had set up.  They answered him and said,

“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)

And they were led up and fell bound into the fiery furnace.  They were joined by an angel and not burned at all.  King Nebuchadnezzar blessed their God because of their willingness to “yield up their bodies” to be burned for their God. (Dan 3:28)

Maybe not to such extremes, but we all are capable of making well-intentioned sacrifices. But we must guard ourselves that it is not being done with pride and vanity instead of love.  Are we doing nice things for others only to get the attention and praise from others?  When these sacrifices are made with love, it is God alone who gets the praise and glory.  And this should be our aim.

The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1Timothy 1:5)

So whether it is in our words, in our knowledge and faith, or in our service, love is to be first in them all.  “Abide in my love,” Jesus told his disciples.  Live in it, surround yourself with it, drink it in, let it be part of who you are in me because without it…NOTHING.

Paul was obviously rebuking the Corinthians who were failing to conduct themselves with love.  In the next passage we will be looking at Love personified as a person who acts in the ways Christians should imitate.  It is a description of Christ himself.  So as we look in verses 4-7 next week we will be looking at Christ as our example for love.  I pray that each trait can be applied in all areas of our lives, but most importantly in our marriages, our parenting, our relationships, our service and our homes.

Abide in My Love Series

Being called to love others is part of being a Follower of Christ, but what does this love look like? Join us next week as we begin taking a look at Christ’s love for us and how we can love others as He loves us.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Abide in My Love

Serving with Love in the Home

LittleFeet

My kids’ feet stink. I am not exaggerating; S.T.I.N.K.  In the hot and humid Louisiana summer their little feet sweat.  Even in those half sneaker, half sandal shoes they wear everyday they just get gross.  We have a shoe shelf (pile) at the front door and sometimes when my husband walks in from work he gets a not-so-very-pleasant welcome to his nose. Occasionally each shoe gets a sprinkling of baby powder and a spray of air freshener, but the problem returns the next time they wear them.  Sometimes it is even unbearable to sit next to them on the couch, or heaven forbid, the dinner table.

So inevitably most days I end up cleaning at least one little person’s feet.  Sometimes we use soap and water, sometimes-just baby wipes.   Just the other day, in a moment of frustration and annoyance of the stinky feet problem, I was roughly wiping my child’s feet.  They winced a little and I realized how rough my hands and my heart were being on them in that moment.   I was convicted and ashamed. Mostly because of my ignorance to the very close comparison it all had to Jesus’ beautiful example of loving service from John 13.

Before the Passover Jesus, knowing his fate, humbled himself before his disciples.

He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.  When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (John 13:4-5;12-15)

As parents, especially mothers we have ample opportunity to live out this lesson Jesus gave.

We clean up snot and spit-up, sometimes even with our own clothing. (Note how Jesus wiped them with the towel he was wearing.) We change diapers and wash clothes only to wake up the next day to do it all over again.  We cook elaborate meals only to have to get up from the table and clean the huge mess in the kitchen.  Whether you work or stay home, raising kids and caring for your family is a demanding job.

If you are like me though, from time to time, or even quite often you may find it hard to do these things without getting frustrated.

“Really? I just did your laundry yesterday! How could your hamper be full already, boys?”

“We were late for church again (or didn’t even go) because the baby had his third diaper blowout of the morning just as we were putting him in the car seat to leave.”

“How did you get peanut butter in your hair? We haven’t eaten peanut butter in 4 days!”

“You were just sitting on the potty for an hour. Why did you immediately come and pee on my bed?”

For me, personally it is always a pride issue in my heart.  Somewhere deep down some little voice is telling me I am somehow higher than all this mess.  But I am not.  That is a lie.

This is my joy.  This is all I ever wanted and more.  When I start to hear those little voices get louder (because they NEVER seem to go away), I have to remind myself of Jesus’ example.

He humbled himself to clean the filthy feet of grown men, even the one who was about to betray him and hand him over to those who would crucify him.   How easy it would have been to skip right past Judas’ feet or even wait until Judas was gone to do this act of service and love.  But he did it with love.

Here are 4 ways that we can look to Jesus’ teachings and learn from his example of love.

1. Jesus didn’t just command us how to live, he SHOWED us.

For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:15-17)

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:9-11)

2.He showed us that following Him would not be easy or comfortable.

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. (Mark 8:34-35)

And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

3. He showed us that we would never be expected to do it on our own, for we cannot.

When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the word, he loved them to the end.  During supper, when the devil had already put it in the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. (John 13:1-4)

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (John 15: 5-7)

4. He showed us that service is full of love, self- denying and sacrificial love.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:12-13)

It is a blessing to have these three beautiful children to care for and this home and this family to be my work day in and day out.  Even when it is dirty, frustrating, stinky, monotonous and tiring it is the work the Lord has called me to do and I am commanded to do it in love, forgetting myself and putting the needs of others above my own.

Do I always succeed in this? NO. I fall short. I fight the battle against pride in my heart from moment to moment.  But this I know:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)

May we be encouraged by these truths and grow in love as we serve our families; abiding in Him.

This post was shared on 27 Aug 2013 to: