Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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16 Love Is Part 1

1 Corinthians 12:31–13:3

And yet I will show you the most excellent way. 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. 2 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. 3 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.

At some point we all discover that Christianity is easier to profess than practice, yet Christianity is about both believing and behaving as a Christian should. So we try to carry our crosses, but if someone crosses us, we tend to lose our composure & behave in much the same way the rest of the world behaves.  But in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul reminds us that agape love is about a personal choice not personal strength or personal ability. We have a choice as to whether or not we will allow God to love through our life. The power of that choice is that we can exercise love in every relationship if we let Christ rule our circumstances. It is not rules that change relationships but the Redeemer and love is the key ingredient in how we interact with others. Often when we read the “love chapter” we start in chapter 13 but Paul begins in chapter 12 when he says, “Now I will show you the most excellent way.” We tend to view love as one way to doing life when in reality it is the most excellent way. So what way have you chosen, the most excellent way or some mediocre way? In our relationships we want excellent results but that requires an excellent way, is it possible that our poor results are a product of a pathetic way? Paul now highlights the importance of love in our lives by contrasting it with five things Christians consider important.

  • Spiritual Gifts

The work of the Holy Spirit brings gifts into the lives of those who place their faith in Jesus, given so that we can serve Jesus not in our own ability but in His. When these gifts are exercised apart from love Paul says they become meaningless, nothing more than noise and pointless pomp without purpose. On the day of Pentecost God gave the apostles the gift of speaking in other languages but if love wasn’t part of their language the gift would have been pointless. In the 1st Century religious cults celebrated publicly in the streets crying out and carrying on with cymbals, drums and colorful clothing. It was all about a show designed to look spiritual and their crashing cymbals were intended to awaken their gods to hear their prayers during worship.  Paul is saying that gifts without love are as pointless and ridiculous as the crashing of cymbals to awaken a nonexistent god. Love is necessary not noisy, it is not a reflection of loudness but of the Lord.

  • Knowledge

Paul says that even if you know it all, everything there is to know about philosophy & psychology & theology & every other kind of “ology” but have no love then you are nothing at all. I have always found it amazing that when the knowledgeable people of this world analyze what is wrong with us, why we kill and abuse each another, that their expert opinion and so their saving solution is always the same. We need more education they say and if we would educate everybody then the problems would go away. Paul says that knowledge is not our answer and don’t misunderstand me I’m not opposed to education but the solution of more knowledge isn’t working. In fact earlier in 1 Corinthians 8:1 Paul said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” I think what we need is not more knowledge but more love. Excellent ways produce excellent results and as a society we have bought into the mediocre result that the way of knowledge will always produce apart from love.

  • Faith.

Paul does not say that faith is not powerful, in fact he says that faith can move mountains, but without love it is power without a point. Paul says that without love I am nothing, that if we do not display the divine love of Christ there is no point to our life. Just because you are breathing does not mean that you are really living, today we have settle for power without purpose. Life is pointless without love because living is loving. Faith and believing is important but unless it is backed up by love it is of little value, just like power without a point. The problem with the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan wasn’t a lack of faith but love. Faith without love walked by on the other side, leaving the man lying unloved and dying.  These men had the power to change others but without love that power had no purpose, in Galatians 5:6 Paul says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Love is what brings focus to faith.

  • Giving

Paul says, “If I give all, notice he doesn’t say, “If I give 10%.” he says everything, giving till we are on empty. The checking account, your home, letting go of the car keys, cashing in any retirement funds and insurance policies, your smart phone and smart clothes, everything. If I give all to the poor but don’t give love then I don’t just have nothing, I am nothing. In our society we get calls all the time from people appealing for funds for worthwhile causes and the question is not do you give but why do you give? We often ask the wrong questions like are you generous when we need to be asking why are you generous because generosity alone is not enough. So why do you give? Do you give because you feel guilty if you don’t, or you want to impress others or because you think you will get more than you give? This is loveless giving based in self-benefit, there have been many generous gifts given not because of love but because of the tax write off.  The motive for giving is love and without it our generosity becomes empty and meaningless.

  • Commitment

As Christians, we are called to bear fruit and show ourselves ready to serve Jesus whenever and wherever He sends us. We need to be committed to the cause of Christ but commitment without love is fruitless. The reality is that our efforts will never amount to anything more than just our human work without the driving force of His love in our lives. Love is more than our accomplishments resulting from commitment; it’s more than the hardships, it’s why we suffer. Martyrdom is about being so committed that you die for what you believe. But giving up life without love becomes nothing more than an empty shout of self-praise. In Acts 7:60 While they were stoning Stephen he cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” Then he died. His commitment for Jesus was founded in a love for His Lord and others. By the way, how committed to your faith are you, would you be willing to lay down your life if it came to that? Commitment without love is like rules void of relationship, so what way will you choose, will it be the most excellent way of Love?

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15 The Proof of Love Part II

15 The Proof of Love Part II

John 13:33-35

33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer….34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.

Jesus Not only gave us a new and necessary command when He said “Love each other” but He revealed Love’s:

  • Source

He didn’t just say “Love each other” He also said “just as I have loved you.” Jesus is the source of our love and it is on the basis of His love for us that we are enabled and empowered to love one another. If we want to minister in love we must first be mastered by Love.  All too often we fail in our efforts to love others because we have strayed from the foundation of love. We try to love others in our own strength with our own love and so we fail. The truth is that before we can overcome in love we must be overcome by Love. We must know the Father’s love and be convinced of His love for us. Do you see yourselves as accepted and loved by God just the way you are? Have you accepted His love and allow it to wash over you’re your life in such a way that you are completely baptized by His love operating under the principle of “As I have loved you?” When we acknowledge and surrender to Christ as our source of love then we will be able to carry out His command of love. Is it time for you to take a swim in the source of love before you sink?

  • Measure

Jesus reveals the measure and the extent to which this love is to be manifest, “As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” The way we are to love one another is to the same degree that Christ loved us and to what extent did Jesus demonstrate His love? As the evening meal was being served, Jesus silently rose from the table and assumed the role of a servant. Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, demonstrating His love through acts of servant hood. Yet His ultimate display of love was as a sacrifice for our sins on the cross. The measure to which we are to love each other is in the same measure to which Jesus has loved us. We must love in service and sacrifice, “As I have loved you.” Serving others in love is practical not sentimental, we are not called to talk out love but to walk out love. Love is action in motion where we lose ourselves in the service of others. That requires stepping out of our comfort zones and becoming vulnerable. The sacrifice of love means that it’s going to cost us something to love others, time, money, comfort, reputation, hurt. Yes love hurts because when we love we open ourselves up to rejection, misunderstanding, even abuse and our love is often not appreciated or reciprocated. That is why our love must be His love and we cannot love others without first offering ourselves to the one we love. The cross reveals an unmistakable portrait of His love, unconditional, limitless, and sacrificial. But the greatest sacrifice of love is the sacrifice to self, a love that the world and the flesh cannot comprehend. Our western culture with its postmodern mentality stands in opposition to and has perverted the message of self-sacrificing love. Today we are obsessed with self, our message is gratify your own desires, follow your own heart. Yet the message of the cross is serve and sacrifice, love as I have loved you. Which message are you listening to and what love is influencing your life, self or the Savior?

  • Results

Jesus concludes by reminding us of the result of His love lived through us “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples”. The result of Christians loving one another is that the Church becomes the greatest witness to the world, without ever saying a word. The reality is that the world is watching and we are on trial. People are looking to see if Christianity is for real and the evidence they are weighing in the balances is our lives, our conduct more that our words. Do your actions portray to the world how deeply you truly love? What in your life would cause them to say, “See how they love one another!?” “See how ready they are willing to die for one another!” We are called to not only receive His love but to respond and reflect His love with those that God places in our lives. Who will you share His love with today?