Ah… the standard line of ‘All you need is Love’ – the Beatles sang about it, the flower power movement chanted it and a Harvard study in 2009 even agreed it – all we need is love. Yet, just because the secular world has claimed it for their own, does not mean that God’s truth has stopped being truth. There is something very powerful about God’s intentions, how could there not be worldwide ‘love’ movement?
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV)
So, I looked it up – and the verb ‘have’ here is the same one that is used for possessions – when the Bible talks about having food or having a husband. It is the same as ‘having’ love. So, love is something that is either our possession or not. We know from Romans 5:5 that the Holy Spirit has poured out love upon us and in 2 Timothy 1:7, God has given us a spirit of love. So, there should never be a question of if we have love or not – He has indeed given love to us. It is more a question of what we do with that love.
Often, I have heard the following verses listed as characteristics of God:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV)
While it true that God is patient and kind and does not envy, etc… we cannot stop there with our understanding of these verses. It is easy to stop there, because accepting that these verses have something to do with me is much more of a challenge. I asserted above that we all have love, so these characteristics must also pertain to me.
Ouch. Am I patient? Kind? Do I envy or boast? I’ll stop now – I admit that I am not always patient or honoring to others; I think I have also delighted in evil that befalls others. I do not always protect, trust, hope, or persevere. I fall short – very short in these areas.
I fall short – but in His presence in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are transformed in the wonder of His love. Through the assurances of Romans 12:2, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. This transformation is not a fairy godmother (or father in this case) who waves a wand and we are immediately as we should be. This transformation is usually gradual and comes from His efforts within us as we stay close to Him. By plugging into Him daily and deepening our relationship with Him by choice. Love is the energy and drive behind our actions and the deeper our relationship with Him, the more of these attitudes and characteristics form verses 4-7 will emanate from us naturally, effortlessly and abundantly.
If we are long-suffering, it is only by God’s strength and His wisdom in dealing with issues. If there is kindness in us, it is God who does it and deserves the praise for it. It is so counter-cultural to not seek our own or keep a record of evil and we are inundated by lies; it is our connection to God which allows us to carry out these things, not by our own strength. There is a certain gradual transformation, an internal journey, when we seek to follow Him.
Love is in us
Patience and kindness, too… when we seek Him
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