Is my love bound to fail?

heart treeI recently was scrolling through the internet and came across a post stating this, “Love (God’s love) never fails.”  Of course, this is based on 1 Corinthians 13:8, and I was not in disagreement with the statement, but did not think it spoke of the entirety of the case.  For me, you can say something and imply something else whether you’ve meant to or not.  In this case, I felt it would leave people with this conclusion:  God’s love is the only love which cannot fail.  The problem with this thinking is love has been reduced to something God does better than anyone else rather than understanding love is a quality of God’s nature (1 John 4:8).  It becomes a matter then to what capacity can I take on the nature of God in regards to love.

First off, Paul has begun this section speaking of the need to possess love or else tongues, prophecy, knowledge and even having great faith or giving to the poor will have little value.  The problem in Corinth was the believers there placed more emphasis on the gifts than on love.  If Paul is exhorting them to love then surely he isn’t encouraging them to love within the capacity of normal fallen human love!  It would be difficult to make the point that Paul was encouraging them to love in a way which was anything but how God has loved each of us.

A quality of real, authentic love is its unfailing nature.  It is not a quality of godly love to fail although it is a quality of earthly love to fail.  Just because the believer is in the world, he is not of the world, and since his love must follow a pattern…..it should be the pattern of God’s love.  What this means is I may be here on earth, but my love does not have to be reduced to the limited love demonstrated here.  Ask yourself this….earthly fathers will not withhold anything from their children.  If their child has a need, or they have something in their possession which would benefit their children then a good father will give it.  If we are God’s children, will He not also give to us what we need, and even more than this, as children, we begin to take on His character.  If His character is the basis of love, my character can also change to resemble His.  (Matt. 7:11; Romans 12:2)  If we are having difficulty understanding this concept then we have overlooked the transformative power salvation has within the lives of those who are truly saved.

But isn’t it impossible for us to love the way God loves because we are human and fallen?  If this was even remotely true then why would Jesus say to His disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:34)  It seems unlikely that  Jesus, who loved perfectly since He is God in the flesh, would command error-prone men to love as He loves them if it were not possible for them to actually succeed.  After all, if they did not love one another as Christ loved them (and this applies to the present church) the world would have a difficult time knowing they were His disciples.  Love would characterize them as His disciples.

We do have the capacity, as the children of God who have been transformed by salvation, to love as God loves, and we are commanded to do it.  Our thinking that we have no ability to love as God has loved us probably stems from a misunderstanding of what genuine love is.  We can make excuses for why we don’t, won’t, or can’t possibly love certain people or decide to obey the LORD’s command, and love one another as He has first loved us.  If He told us to do it, then it isn’t impossible, but we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.

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I love you…..sometimes

sometimesWhen was the last time you looked deep into the eyes of that someone special and said to them, “I love you,” followed by a confident, “….sometimes?”  That may sound strange, but I’ve often heard people say they don’t feel ‘in love’ with someone all the time.  I think its easy to miss the idea of love when we think we of it in terms of feelings.  Love is more than a feeling, and it must become part of who we are.  This is the case to be made – If God is love then His character establishes love and since God can never change His mind then He is always love.  Since this is the truth, and we are His children, then shouldn’t love become a quality characterizing our lives?  I believe it should.

Bearing the image of love….

…..is an idea Paul speaks about in Colossians 3.  He says in vs. 14 that we are to ‘put on love.’  Have you ever noticed whatever someone puts on is clearly visible to everyone around them?  That’s obvious enough!  It’s impossible to wear an outfit and then keep it hidden from everyone…..unless you cover it up with something else.

Not to make love sound superficial, but it must be something we wear so others take notice of its appearance on us.  It shouldn’t be something which is hard to spot about us….it should be clearly evident we know love (God (1 John 4:8), the salvation of Jesus               (1 John 4:9)) and we express love (obedience to Him (1 John 1:3), service in His Name (1 John 1:6)).   There’s a way love acts, and the previous verses (Colossians 3:12-13) illustrate the expressions love binds together, or in other words, those expressions which show a person is wearing love.  If God is love then His people must be like Him.

If we have to debate with someone that we are, in fact, loving, then we may not be wearing it, but covering it up and masking it.   It is not possible for us to satisfy our consciences by wearing love with some people and not wearing it with others who we feel don’t deserve it.  1 John 2:9 contradicts this thought that we can love one person and not another while still being obedient to resemble God’s likeness.  Think of it this way, it is easy to love those who do good things for you but where is the reward in loving those who are so kind?  (Matthew 5:43-48)  Loving the people who are nice to you comes natural to anyone.  You may even love those closest to you, but who doesn’t do that?  If we are able to justify loving those who are good to us, or those we find agreeable then love has been reduced to mere feelings.  We have not understood the concept from Paul of wearing love.  Love isn’t a matter or reciprocation.  It isn’t just reserved for those we find deserving.  The love of a believer has to stand out from the same-old, same-old love we find in the world, and this was the point Jesus was trying to make here.  Our love has to exceed the worldly form of love because God’s love is not expressed merely to those who love Him.  We know God loved all, even those who hated Him, and He sent Jesus so those who rejected Him could have the opportunity to receive Him.  This is not a love which only loves those who have shown some kind of benefit first so as to deserve love back.

When I wear something, everyone sees it.  Even people I don’t know on the street are seeing what I’m wearing.  People I don’t readily agree with see what I’m wearing.  Those who have hurt me see what I’m wearing.  People who don’t deserve to see such a great outfit will see what I’m wearing.  This is what happens when I put on love and wear it.  Those who have hurt me, forsaken me, cursed me, ridiculed me, embarrassed me, showed kindness towards me, helped me, and those who encouraged me —- everyone gets the same treatment….LOVE!  This may be hard for us to get deep within ourselves, but it has to be in us and on us.

If you are having a difficult time loving others then I would remind you of Jesus who loved deeply those who ridiculed Him while He was on the cross.  He loved them so much, He stayed on the cross, died for their sins, and rose three days later.  If Jesus, our Savior and model, could put on love as God is love, then we can too!  For those of you who cover love up with something else and put on unforgiveness, bitterness, argumentativeness, and resentment, take some time today to ask God to forgive you for covering up the love you’re supposed to put on  and display to all.  Ask Him to help you to love as He loves, and if you are sincere, God will help you become like Him!