The Quintessential Grace
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant” (1 Corinthians 13:4, ESV)
Love is the acid test of the Christian life. Paul says, if we have not love it doesn’t matters how well we speak (1Cor 13:1), how much we know or how much we say we believe (v.2), or even how much we are willing to sacrifice (v.3). Without love, these things are empty facades, like window dressing an empty store, or putting makeup on a corpse. You can plaster a loveless soul plastered with all the badges of outward orthodoxy and orthopraxy, but the appearance won’t change the reality. Sooner or later, somewhere, somehow, the stench of death will make its presence known, and the truth will be out. Let those words sink in: “if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.”
What is love? Love is the way we respond to difficult people (patient). Love is how we view the success of others (does not envy). Love is our posture towards people who are wrong or whom we deem inferior (not arrogant or rude). Love is an attitude toward disagreement, inconvenience, and past hurts (does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable, or resentful). Love is a commitment to deal with others Christianly, not to use them unrighteously out of selfishness, but determines to respond according to the truth of Scripture (it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth). Love will any burden, reach across any divide, face any problem, take any risk for the good of its object (Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things).
Such a love comes from the indwelling power of the risen Christ. It is a reality we call down into ourselves from above through Spirit filled prayer.
“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 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. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:14–21, ESV)
In all these things, we love because He first loved us. So, this Friday morning, Christian, stop and ask yourself: Do you have love? Whom do you love and how? Perhaps you justify lovelessness: your life is so hard and the people in it so unlovely? But if you look at Paul’s list. Love manifests itself in the hardest of times and before the worst of people—the kind of people who demand patience and endurance, who provoke envy, resentment, and irritability. Yet, despite all these things, empowered by the limitless power of the Spirit and enlightened by His truth, Christian love rises to the occasion. May God give us all grace so to be and to do today. Press on!