Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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25 Love is Part 10

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love never loses faith, is always hopeful”

  • Believes

Believe in the bible usually refers to God but here it denotes confidence in others by living life believing the best about them. Love trusts, not because it is gullible, but because it is willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Love expects people of the truth to be true and so it is ready to believe and take people at their highest and best, not at their lowest and worst. Love leads us to interpret the conduct of others through the lens of goodwill, but it does not mean that we turn a blind eye when we see the opposite of what love is. Matthew 10:16 says that we must be “as wise as serpents” being aware of danger and meeting it with tough love may be the best response to irresponsible and foolish behavior.  But we can be too guarded, too wary and distrustful driven not by love but by the inclinations of the sinful heart which by its very nature is cynical and suspicious. Hate always starts with doubt looking for the trail of deceit so it can despise and justify its mistrusting ways. Love works from the foundation of innocent until proven guilty and believes what others say in their own defense until actions prove them otherwise. If love errs, it must err in trust.

Love is the safe harbor of trust that allows people to be moored together in relationship. Real love will not even pass on the facts about people if those facts will be unnecessarily harmful because real love knows that truth is always yoked with grace. What a tragedy when people in relationship with one another do not trust each other. I believe it is better to trust and be wrong than to live in suspicion and be wrong. Suspicion eats up the inner soul of a person and like cancer it destroys us from the inside out. British poet Alfred Tennyson wrote, “It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” And I believe it is better to believe in someone and have your heart broken than to have no heart at all.

When I take my last breath here on earth, closing my eyes on the temporary so I can see the eternal, I think of that glorious moment face to face with Jesus and I hope He’ll say of me that I’ve loved and trusted too much, rather than too little. Love “believes” in people and is able to see the potential in them because love believes in a God that changes us. Have you experience the reality of the One who can take the unattractive and unworthy and transform them into a masterpiece of beauty and grace? Love is not focused on the performance of people but the perfection of the Prince of Peace. What if through love I would look beyond what people are and into what they can become? What if I stopped getting high centered on where people are and allowed myself to be freed to see where God wants to take them? When this life is over I want to have loved too many but I fear distrust will have robbed me and left me having loved too few. Lord would you help us to believe in people seeing all that You can do, in and through them.

  • Hopes

Love does not despair but sees the bright side of things, unlike Eeyore and his dark cloud.  Love steps confidently into the dark forest and instead of fear at the buzzing of the bees there is a smile for love knows that the honey is near.  No matter the circumstances, love continues to hope for the best, it is positive, not negative. Even when evil seems to be winning, love looks to Hope knowing truth will prevail. Love sees people through the lens of hope and hopes for the best in regard to all people and situations. This hope is based in the spoken Word of God that says He will accomplish His benevolent purpose in those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Love is hopeful and confident of the future knowing that focusing on faith in God’s grace means that human failures aren’t final. Real love can hope because of what God can do and in spite of our present problems the cross of Christ provides hope. This is the true power of love, it is not fueled and sustained by an ever-changing emotional or physical state, but by hope in an unchanging God. Real love has the capacity to view life and live it with a renewed and refreshing optimism because of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Because you know there is hope for you it enables you to have hope for others. When you meet someone who needs encouragement, give it to them because more people die of broken hearts than swelled heads. Discouragement visits mansions and mud huts and we have the antidote of hope administered through love.

In a world filled with hopelessness and despair, love always hopes. In the middle of economic failure, epidemics, war, hatred, hunger and hurt, love always hopes. Love’s hope comes through faith in Jesus Christ believing that he is triumphant over all hurts and pains and problems. And filled with this hope, love gives a person courage to live today and to face tomorrow no matter what happens! The story of the prodigal son is one of hope despite a son who rejects his father, his family, and his upbringing. How it must have broken his father’s heart, yet every day the son is gone, the father goes out to the roadside and he looks, and he waits, and he longs, and he hopes for his son to return. We don’t know how long the son was gone, it could have been months or even years, but every day the father is there, hour upon hour, waiting, watching, longing, hoping. When the son finally does return it says that his father saw him coming while he was still a long way off. Do you think the best, believe the best, and express the best toward others? Love makes hope last.

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24 Love is Part 9

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Love never gives up”

  • Protects

The word that is used here means a roof or covering and the idea Paul is portraying is that love covers and protects like a roof covers a house and protects it from the storms. Love provides a protective cover over those it loves. Instead of airing the pain of another’s sins love builds a compassionate roof over the sinner not to condone sin but extending itself to the one who sins. 1 Peter 4:8 says “Love covers a multitude of sins.” It doesn’t cover up but instead protects by keeping out the resentment just as a ship keeps out the sea or a roof the rain. Love is the roof that bears the storms of disappointment laden with the rains of failure, and driven by the winds of time and circumstance. Love provides a covering that shields others from the biting extremes of the freezing winters and sweltering summer sun. Love provides that place of shelter enabling others to withstand the worst circumstances imaginable. This is the example of Jesus whose love for us bore what we could not. This does not mean that love passively bears all sin in the way a doormat passively takes the feet of its users. Some believe that love bearing means that love does not complain, yet what it means is that love never stops caring and never stops offering forgiveness and a place of restoration. Love never gets to the place where it begins hating, despising, and condemning others. Love never protects sin but it always desires to restore the sinner. Love cares enough to keep praying, to take every opportunity to patiently endure the sin of others, to confront when necessary, yet is always ready to forgive and ready to reconcile at repentance.

Leviticus 16:14 reminds us that the mercy seat where the blood of atonement was sprinkled was a covering, not only for the ark itself but also for the sins of the people. The mercy seat was provided by Jesus on the cross in His great propitiatory sacrifice (Rom. 3:25-26; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2). Through the cross God threw the great mantle of His love, the shed blood of Jesus, over sin, forever covering it for those who trust in His Son. By nature, love is redemptive, it wants to buy back instead of enslave, to save instead of condemn and judge. Love feels the pain of those it loves, helping to carry the burden of hurt and is even willing to take the consequences of the sin of those it loves. Isaiah wrote of Jesus Christ, “Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down ….He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins, He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isa. 53:4-5). Today we are more focused on our rights than a roof that will bear the barrage of the storm. We focus on what we feel is fair willing to expose the vulnerable to the brutality of life without love.

The poem, ‘Curfew Must not Ring Tonight’ by Rose Hartwick Thorpe written in 1867 reminds me of the protective power of a love that never gives up. It is based on an incident during the reign of Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658) as ‘Lord Protector’ of England. It describes the deep love between Bessie, a young and beautiful girl, and Basil Underwood a young soldier who is charged with a crime and imprisoned. He was tried, found guilty and condemned to be shot dead at the moment when the bell rings to signal the evening curfew. The executioners waiting to hear the curfew bell to carry out the execution look to the bell-ringer. At exactly the prescribed moment grabs the large rope pulling it with full force, the bell swings out but there is no sound. He pulls several times and despite the movement the bell is silent. Cromwell sends soldiers to investigate the strange occurrence and discover that Bessie, the soldier’s fiancé had climbed to the top of the bell tower and tied herself to the huge clapper hanging in the heavy bell to prevent its striking against the bell. Bessie is knocked back and forth and smashed between the bell and the clapper with every pull of the rope. Her head, hands and ribs are smashed as she tried to protect that which she loved and she is taken before Cromwell bruised and bleeding. Cromwell is deeply moved by her willingness to suffer for love and immediately pardons the prisoner. Turning to Bessie he says, “Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice, curfew shall not ring tonight.” True love enables us to bear the injury and endure the insult. Paul writes “I may be able to speak the languages of men and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. Sometimes loving means quietly enduring the blows and sheltering others from the pain.

Loves protective shelter provides a positive perspective from which to view others and determines not only what we focus on but also what we point out. Do you look for people’s faults, consciously or unconsciously, do you pick at them or do you look at people’s positive characteristics and concentrate there? Love is an action rooted in a choice for the good of others. The power of love is seen in its perseverance and willingness to endure the storm. Maybe today you feel like throwing in the towel and giving up, you question how long you can hold on but Jesus doesn’t call us to hang on He calls us to love on. Today who is Jesus calling you to build a covering of love around, is it in your marriage, with your kids, at work or in school? Is it time for you to let go and stop holding on so you can be free to love on?