Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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26 Love is Part 11

1 Corinthians 13:7-8 “Love endures through every circumstance. 8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!”

  • Endures

The word that is used here means to remain under, indicating difficulty and hardship and it brings us to the culminating color that makes up love “Love never fails.” Here we have the perpetuity of permanence for Love doesn’t quit, it doesn’t give up. The eternal circle of love is now complete, beginning with patience toward people and ending with patience through circumstances. Paul reminds us that the power of love can endure the problems of life. Love helps us to endure and sustain a load of miseries, adversities, persecutions or provocations in faith and patience. The term that Paul uses is a military one used to describe an army holding a vital position at all costs. For them every attack and hardship was to be endured in order to hold fast and Paul reminds us that love is what really endures. Love does not give up in the face of problems and pain, but endures to the finish knowing the goal is worth pushing through the pain for. Love, like a warrior’s heart, must be willing to hold its ground, persevering not for a while but to the end. Love has a stick-to-itness that is unwilling to let go but hangs on. Real love is a survivor and does not surrender even when surrounded and under siege, because it sees the source of love, the Savior. Drawing strength from the source of love it can endure anything, pressing on to victory in spite of the counterattacks.

The only individual who perfectly fulfilled this “love chapter” is Jesus Christ, even optimistic newlyweds have failed to love at some time. Pastor F. R Meyer (1847-1929) wrote, “Jesus sits for His portrait in these glowing sentences, and every clause is true of Him. Substitute His name for ’love’ throughout the chapter, and see whether it is not an exact likeness.” When we do the scripture reads “[Jesus] suffers long and is kind; [Jesus] does not envy; [Jesus] . . . does not behave rudely, does not seek [His] own . . . does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [Jesus] never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Jesus is the perfect example of love, yet Paul wrote to describe how we are meant to follow His example and love others. Today we need more than just to read about Christ’s example of love; we need to experience His love by receiving Him into our lives as Lord and Savior. If we have done that, Paul declares, “the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:5). Only then will we be able to love others as Jesus does, by allowing Him to love them through us. So if His love has been poured into you would the text still read true if you replaced your name for the word love? Just like the height marks we placed on the wall to measure our children’s growth this passage can be used as a yardstick to measuring our progress and growth in love. Are you growing in agape love? Life has its problems yet problems really provide opportunities to learn to love. When we view problems as a provision packed full of opportunities for progress in the arena of love we realize that this world is not a playground but a school room. Life is not a holiday but an education where we get to apprentice under the Savior so we can learn to better love. How can we love better? By practice, practice is what produces the good athlete, the better artist, the great sculptor, and the growing musician. Love is not the expression of enthusiastic emotion, it is the expression of a character that has practiced by exercising these virtues. Have you taken the first step in discovering love in the Person and actions of Jesus Christ? Do you believed the Bible that says Christ loved you and died for your sins? This is the starting point, the beginning to a life of love where we submit to Jesus and allow Him to live His life of love through us. The best proof of the absolute value of love is its eternal permanence in contrast to everything else, even the other excellent eternal qualities, of hope and faith. The subjective persistence of love in the believer on earth becomes objective permanence in heaven. Love endures forever, it bears what otherwise is unbearable; it believes what otherwise is unbelievable; it hopes in what otherwise is hopeless; and it endures when anything less than love would give up. After love bears it believes, after it believes it hopes and after it hopes it endures. There is no “after” for endurance because endurance is the unending climax of love. To know love we must open our hearts to Jesus, to show love we must open our heart to others. Where are you at today, do you need to open your heart to Jesus and let Him fill you with His love or is it time to pour out His love on a thirsty world?

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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.