Friday, June 19, 2015

True Love: An exposition

It is an age old question and many over the years have tried to define all its qualities. After much reading, I can find no other definition that holds a candle to the Apostle Paul’s definition found in 1 Cor 13 (the whole chapter). This amazing discourse mentions all kinds of spiritual gifts and power. It mentions the willing sacrifice of a person to be burned (for the cause). Yet the conclusion Paul reaches is startling:….none of that or any other work we might do has ANY merit if love is not accompanied with it.

So how do we know if we have genuine love as Paul so beautifully describes it?

I Cor 13:4 : Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

General characteristics: longsuffering (patient), kind (acts benevolently), envieth not (not zealous about itself), vaunteth not (not self promoting nor looking after its own interest), not puffed up (does not think of itself as high).

So what love is not:

So if you are not patient with others, do not act benevolently, are zealous about yourself ( constant focus on lifestyle and pursuits), think you are special, then you do not have the characteristics of genuine love.

I Cor 13:5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

What love is not:
So if you act out or prepare disgrace for others (think less of them), are only interested in people in your immediate circle (group), easily provoked (offended by others because they are different), think evil of others (pray for their judgment or demise) , then you do not have the characteristics of genuine love.

I Cor 3:6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth

What Love is not:
So if you rejoice in a deed violating law and justice, don’t rejoice objectively in any matter of certainty (i.e. look for truth not as it is perceived by one but open to all input and to judge them objectively on their own merit), then you do not have the characteristics of genuine love.

I Cor 13:7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Waht love is not:
So if you don’t hold out all things (support), commit to trust all things, wait or look for salvation for others, remain steadfast to others, then you do not have the characteristics of genuine love.

In the end, it boils down to a few things:

Care for what is right - regardless who tells you your thoughts are not in line with theirs, 
Do not consider yourself first - be careful you understand this self focus has many faces some parading as angels of light 
Believe in others even though they are not like you. here is a thought 'What if God is on both sides because both are groping towards the perfect. 
This is love.

I would venture to say the we all fall short of that but what I hope you gain from the above is the ‘openness’ of love. It is not that we become pushovers but we do remain open for dialogue and if I could say, we are not afraid of any particular thing or person. As Paul said ‘perfect love casts out fear’. 

With all my heart I wish my darlings love, happiness and the goodness of God. No regrets only forgiveness and know I love you all. 

Kevin - once a pastor, father and mentor. Now just a pilgrim pointed towards the city whose builder and maker is God. Nothing in my hands I bring, to Thy Cross I cling