Yesterday, we began to explore what love is. We talked about God's unearnable merit and favor (it's called Grace), that He loved us first, and that it is not by any thing we can do, but we are saved and loved merely by who He is! God's true love for us was presented on that cross, while His Son bled and died, and He, instead of pouring it upon us, poured His wrath on His own innocent and perfect Son. This is something we can't get wrong! We've done nothing to earn or deserve such a love, it's His grace poured out on us by the Love He has for us that gives us a love we don't earn. So How do we respond to such a perfect love? Every morning and evening, the Hebrews pray a part of Deuteronomy, called the Shema (Chapter 6:4-9): “Hear [and obey], O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." What if we pursued God in this way? What would it look like? Jesus takes the Shema even further, and thus rounding out the Royal Law, that the second part of the greatest commandment is EQUALLY as important, and fulfills all of the law and prophets: that we love our neighbors as ourselves. As God pours His great love on us, we, too, shall sacrificially love all others. This is in SPITE of what they do to us, regardless of the history between us, and only because of God's great love for us. You see, God's great love should transform us. It should sacrifice for Him and all others the way He sacrifices and transforms for us. Just as God loves us in spite of ourselves, so we should love all others in spite of themselves. The Backward nature of God's Kingdom is that God's representatives sacrifice for one another. Greater love has no man than this, says the Master, that He lay down his life for his friends. The apostle Paul calls upon us to be a living sacrifice. Let us then, live a life of love, submitting fully to God and to one another. If you still have a hard time understanding this concept of love, today's Passage is a pretty in depth definition:
1 Corinthians 13
English Standard Version (ESV)
The Way of Love
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
a. 1 Corinthians 13:3 Some manuscripts deliver up my body [to death] that I may boast
b. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Greek irritable and does not count up wrongdoing