Love

(Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them” – Gal. 5:25, Eph. 5:2)

I Cor. 13:4ff reads, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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. Love never fails.” “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (v. 13)”

Wow. No doubt if every professed Christian exhibited these “Love” characteristics everyone would want to be one. I can only think of one or two people who even come close to measuring up, and I’m sure at their weak moments something probably goes wrong. Why is it that if Christians are vessels of the Holy Spirit, which we are, it is so difficult to “Love” this way?

The unconditional love of God was manifest in that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We hear over and over again, and read over and over again, that as parents we are supposed to love our children and spouse unconditionally. In fact as Christians aren’t we supposed to love everyone as Jesus does, unconditionally? But, in His unconditional love, does Jesus ever love anyone more than others? I started a furor in our weekly bible study when I stated that I believe that Jesus, in fact, did, and maybe does at times, love one person more than others.

This was related to me by Matt from a sermon he heard while attending ORU. When Jesus had resurrected, an angel at the empty tomb told several women to go and tell “His disciples and Peter”, of the resurrection (Mark 16:6ff). The curious part is why the angel, who received his directions from Jesus, mentioned Peter separate from the disciples? It’s as if Peter needed a little more attention from the Lord at that time, or maybe a little more affection, love, attention, or whatever you might call it. No doubt because of the devastation brought on by the “crowing rooster.” We too, at times, need the “crowing rooster” love of Jesus, maybe a little more than others might need it, to assure us of His unconditional love. And in those times, God will mention our name as he did Peter. He may call out our name in our spirit, or he may give a personal name directive to a ministering angel.

All parents, Christian or not, struggle with the dilemma of disciplining children while at the same time exhibiting love. Depending on our personal background, the whole area of “tough love,” which must at times be a reality, and speaking the “truth in love,” can come across very differently. In many cases, even while God begins showing us the love we may not have known as a child, we can carry for a lifetime some of the deficits from early years. I have included on the site, under the category “Other,” a revelation at the beginning of my Christian life titled “Surprised by Love.” You may or may not identify with my experience, but you do have a testimony of the expression of God in your life.

I have read many testimonies of adults who never heard their father say “I love you.” The late Tim Russert wrote the best seller, “Big Russ and Me,” where he chronicles the love and devotion
he held for his father. He followed this up with a sequel, “Wisdom of Our Fathers,” in which he includes letters he received from many who had read the first book. His relationship with his father struck a responsive chord with many who had great stories to tell about their fathers. While some were sad stories, most recalled similar lives that were filled with respect, love, devotion, and admiration for their fathers. The most remarkable element that was all too prevalent was the lack of a real personal relationship between the father and child. In fact, Tim Russert recalls the one and only time he heard his father say, “I love you.” It was a real precious time for him, but the lack of overt affection did not lessen his love of his father. Is that amazing!!

I hear the, “I love you” said more than “good morning”, it seems. At times it seems meaningless in its constant repetition. It is said to me, and I say it to others. Tim Russert heard it only once, but it would be hard to find a son with more admiration for a father. That brings up, to me, an important question. How is love expressed? Can I always say “I love you” and be taken seriously regardless of my actions? God said “I love You,” and gave up his Son. The Word says that if we really love Jesus we will do what he tells us to do. There is often a contradiction between what we say and what we do. There are many verses that tie the two together.

One last comment on the sometimes confusion between discipline and love. While God always has unconditional love for his children, there are times when He is not pleased with us. In the same way, there are times when we are not pleased with our children or spouse, or friends, or church members, or whomever. Well, what is God’s response when He’s not pleased? By the way, God is not pleased with us when our faith wavers. The Word states, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” It would seem reasonable that there are other times, also, when God may not be pleased with us. Anyway, not being pleased with someone does not mean a lack of love, although it might seem unlovely to show displeasure. The question seems to be, then, how can we always project love in all situations? Or, can we?

In addition to the above love passage “problem” (it’s application), which is more than enough to deal with, how about the passage where if we love only those who love us it’s no big deal! The real test seems to be not only loving our families, brothers and sisters, and God whom we cannot see, but all of our enemies as well! Our only hope is to “default” back to God. If He doesn’t do it (which He will) we are in trouble. So when you tell me you love me, I may only believe it if you give me, say, an ice cream cone, or something.

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