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What Love Is And Does

September 3, 2011

1 Cor 13:4-8  Love
is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no
record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It
always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never
fails.

I’m not sure how it happens or why, but so often as we begin
a serious walk with the Lord, we become convinced that we must do everything
right. Perhaps it is when we hear Jesus’ words, from the King James Version of
the Bible, quoting, “Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is
perfect.” (Mt 5:48). I remember as a new believer, I really struggled with
that one. I had never been anywhere near perfect in any area of my life—let alone
my whole being. I almost gave up. I almost stopped trying. How horrible to live
one’s life trying to be perfect (by our definition) when we could never
possibly achieve it and get to the end only to hear, “Sorry kid, you
failed here and here and here . . .

I remember reading those words and crying. The God who knows
all things, is everywhere at once—all the omnis—did He know who He was talking
to here? Be perfect? Really? Me?

And so I struggled. I ached to be perfect. I became very
strict with myself and with my kids. We would
be perfect. If it killed us we would do it because that is what Jesus said
was required. Right? Or is it?

What I did not see until after I spent years struggling and
failing—after my kids had become angry and discouraged—what how the scripture I
quoted was part of a conversation Jesus was having about – of all things –
love. He was talking about loving those who don’t love you. He was talking
about love as the Father has and does love. Those that hate you? You love them.
Those that use and abuse you? You pray for them. This is how the Father loves.
This is how the Father loves us. Isn’t that amazing? All those years that I
tried so hard to hear the words “well done good and faithful,” and I
never heard them because I was never perfect.

I tried to “be holy as the Lord God is holy.” Like
the Pharisees in Jesus’ day, I set myself so far apart from the world there was
no way I was going to reach them. I’m ashamed of that. I have repented for it.
I regret some people only remember me that way. I was separate but I wasn’t
holy—and when I’d hear sermons about holiness to the Lord, I would know I’d
failed. Again. And I would walk away from church with my head hanging down in
shame. Perhaps I’d said a wrong word. Maybe I’d watched something on television
that I shouldn’t have. Or I could have struggled with jealousy or impure
thoughts—there were the presumptuous sins and the secret sins I had to worry
about. At any rate, I never felt like I had achieved “holy.”

Well, I’ve come a long way, baby! And love has brought me
here.

And do you know what the stepping stone to this new
revelation was for me? I saw another scripture.

Heb 4:15-16  For we do not have a high priest who is unable
to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in
every way, just as we are — yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the
throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to
help us in our time of need.

The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way we are—every way—and yet He
did not sin. His love for us was so great, that He refused sin on our behalf.
He refused sin because it would have kept Him from fulfilling His mission to
save us from sin. That, my friends, is love. That is what love does. It is my
opinion that only with love so deep, wide, high and long are we able to resist
sin that so easily besets us.

I no longer pray for help to resist sin, but I pray for more
love, deeper love—love for my Savior and love for the people He has designed me
to reach with the gospel. I know the love is in me, because He shed the love of
God and all its latitude, longitude and length of days in me (Rom 5:5). His
love, the love that He resisted sin with, the love He gave His life with, the
love He rose from the dead with—it’s in me. He has provided all things
pertaining to life and godliness (2Pet 1:3) through our knowledge of Him.

The more I know Him, the more I know His love for me the
less I worry about being good enough. No, my main goal is to be love enough. It
is love that never fails. It is love that started me on this journey—we love
because He first loved us (1Jn 4:19)—and love will take me to completion,
fulfillment or purpose,  or perfection
which is what that word in Matthew 5:48 means.

Our God is patient. He is kind. God does not envy or boast.
He is never proud or rude. He is not self-seeking but lays down His life
seeking us. I am grateful that our God is not easily angered and keeps no
record of wrongs—but sends them as far as the east is from the west. Our God
hates evil that harms us and rejoices in truth and sends it our way so we can
rejoice with Him. He always protects us and trusts us with His Spirit in us. He
always hopes/expects us to finish as He did and He never gives up—ever. He
never leaves us or forsakes us, even when we fail or just don’t get it. I am a
testimony to that.

Blessed be the Lord God who is Love. Amen.

 

 

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