Love Never Fails
(1 Corinthians 13:1-13)
The love of Jesus
My love for and relationship with others is a very tangible way in which I can continue the work of the Lord Himself. Jesus wants me to love other people as He would love them were He here in the flesh. What a solemn opportunity; what an incredible challenge. Of our own, we simply are not up to it, but by His grace and love continuing to work in us.
I am to love because that is part of the work and character of Jesus. And He never fails.
So let’s review some of the characteristics and manifestations Jesus’ love.
Love first. Human love tends to be a natural response to someone else’s love or favor. God’s love doesn’t wait; He loves first. He won’t (and didn’t) sit around waiting for someone to love Him so then He could respond with His love. No way! “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us” (1 John 4:10a). And that is precisely how God wants to work His love through us toward those about us.
Love actively. For many folks, love is a noble concept, an oh-so-nice feeling. God’s love gets beyond the moving of the senses and the theorizing of the mind. God’s love acts. An extremely well-known verse shows us the active dimension of God’s love: “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16). Matthew 14:14 doesn’t use the term love but it definitely demonstrates it and its action: “And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick.” God doesn’t want us to sit back in self-satisfied “accomplishment” at our internal churnings of love, empathy and compassion. He wants us moved to action!
Love sacrificially. Natural love may well move us to give up something for another. Provided we can manage without it. Or we have grown weary of it. Or we have something better. God’s love moved Him to sacrifice. And He chose His absolute best for that sacrifice. No left-overs, second-rate stuff or useless trinkets when God sacrifices for the objects of His love! He “sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10b). Sometimes we sing, “Give of your best to the Master.” That’s good. How often do we live, “Give of your best to another”? That’s love.
I urge you to review passages like 1 John 4:7-21 and 1 Corinthians 13 to mine from them the treasures of God’s love to us.
Then let’s faithfully continue Jesus’ work!
What is love?
How “attached” are you to the other members of your congregation? Perhaps that is too broad for you. Narrow it down, then. How attached are you to the others in your youth group? I mean, all of them! What are the limits of your love and commitment to each one of them? What good would you not do for them?
Love is a hard word for us because we paint all kinds of mushy word pictures in our mind and emotions when we hear it. And we find it nigh impossible to paint certain people into such a picture. Then we feel condemned by verses which tell us to love our enemies, to love our neighbor, and to love the brotherhood. And we become somewhat frightened and ashamed when we are told that the measure of our love for God is our love for our brother. We just have a hard time working up nice, mushy emotions about and feelings toward certain individuals.
I have good news and “bad” news for you. The good news first — genuine love does not depend on feelings and emotions. You can actually love someone without feeling mushy, warm, and brotherly!
Now for the “bad” news — loving is so easy it’s hard. Loving is doing good for another. For because you endeavor to benefit only the recipient of your love. You have no interest in personal gain; the futility of that is shown in 1 Corinthians 13:3. Doesn’t that indeed sound easy? However, it’s also hard because life simply teems with untold opportunities to do good to others. You know, if we aren’t “careful” we will find ourselves over-exerted in our efforts to love others!
Now let me fling another good-sized “monkey wrench” into the works. God calls on us to so love (do good for) others that we willingly take a personal loss. That markedly steepens the price of love.
Love never fails. Even when it means no personal gain. Even when it results in personal loss. Only by God’s grace can we love that way. Only because of His love can we love that way.
Lesson 9 — first quarter 2006, July 30, 2006
—Mark Roth © Copyright 2006