What is love? When Christians are asked this simple, but yet complex question many people often think automatically of the well-known 13th chapter of 1st Corinthians.
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13 NLT)
But, there is more to love than what is noted in this well-known verse. God speaks of love through the bible, and here I will make note of 10 of them.
Loners who care only for themselves spit on the common good. Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse; all they do is run off at the mouth. Fools are undone by their big mouths; their souls are crushed by their words. Answering before listening is both stupid and rude. A healthy spirit conquers adversity, but what can you do when the spirit is crushed? Wise men and women are always learning, always listening for fresh insights. Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest. (Proverbs 18:1, 2, 7, 13-15, 20 MSG)
My question to you is, how do expect someone to truly listen with their ears, and their hearts if you don’t first give the chance to express themselves? Don’t try to think of what to say next, because then you aren’t really listening now are you? Always be the one that truly listens.
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. (James 1:19 NLT)
Let’s break this one down…
You must be quick to listen. How can we do this? I think it means that you are the first one to sit still, and really listen to someone who needs to talk. Without hesitation. If someone you love needs to get something off their mind or heart, it only makes sense that they would rather talk to someone who they hold dear. So be there, fully be there, and listen.
Next it says, slow to speak. I addressed this concept in the 1st action, however, this concept is really stressing the idea that not only do we listen without interrupting, but also take a deep breath and pause to think of what GOD is really pushing you to respond with.
Finally we find slow to get angry. If someone comes to you to discuss a matter that really pushes your buttons, it can be difficult to come to a point where you don’t totally freak out and say something with anger. But, we must remember that when we speak with anger, often times what we say is not necessarily how we feel in our heart. Not to mention it can also be very hurtful to the person we are talking to.
So remember, be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Communication is a huge part of any relationship, between husband and wife, between friends, between teacher and student. Each relationship can only succeed with communication.
Sinners are always wanting what they don’t have; the God-loyal are always giving what they do have. (Proverbs 21:26 MSG)
A good example of this is the well-known story of Jesus at the temple. He saw how the rich man gave a sum of offering, and a poor woman who gave offering as well. The rich man gave a large amount because he felt he could afford it. The poor woman gave EVERYTHING – SHE – HAD because she felt that GOD needed it more than herself. Jesus said that in god’s eyes her offering was more meaningful and pleasing to God. Even though the rich man could give a larger amount of money, the poor woman gave everything she had. Which is more valuable?
This concept is not always about money. In love, this same rule applies. If you give everything you have, your heart and your largest efforts, and put the person you love before even yourself… That is love. So give without sparing….give without holding back.
So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. (Colossians 1:9 NLT)
What is it that we ask God for when we pray? Forgiveness? Wealth? Knowledge? Do we take the time to not just ask god… But to praise him too? Do we show god the same love and compassion that he does to us? What about our loved ones? Do we pray for ourselves more often than we pray for the ones we love? And if we do pray for our loved ones, is it only when they need something? Pray without ceasing. This is your lifeline to god. To happiness. Pray without ceasing. Know without a doubt that he hears you, and he is in your corner. Pray without ceasing! Take time to praise his glory to him, as well as praise our loved ones. Pray… Without… Ceasing!
A meal of bread and water in contented peace is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels. (Proverbs 17:1 MSG)
Have you ever sat down to a meal with your family and noticed that not one person had a good day, and all they do is complain and argue about it? Where is God in that? Where is the love in that? Would you rather sit in silence than argue with a loved one? Here God is saying, I would rather you sit quietly in each others company, than to argue. Meal time is often described in the bible as a holy time. We feast together in love, and in Gods presence. Would we argue at Gods table? Love should be evident at a family table. Whether it’s the thankfulness we have because mom makes an amazing meal, or if it’s the fact we get to simply be together: Come to the family table with a joyful heart, for quarrels will chase away the good.
Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (Ephesians 4:14, 15 NLT)
Did you ever start to tell a story to a family member, and realized that it is actually quite boring? So we add a few things here and there, and make it sound like this fantastic happening that will knock the socks off for your loved one. Why? This person standing in front of you loves you for who you are, not what you do. Not because of this story that you made up to impress. They love you for the moments that you don’t have to pretend.
Do we often times pretend to God? We know in our hearts that it is wrong, that God knows and sees everything. But yet, we are weak in that moment and forget that his love is greater than that story. May we remember always, that love is greater than any elaborate story.
Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people. (Philippians 2:14, 15 NLT)
What does it mean to live clean? Let’s think of it this way… To eat clean means to only eat foods that haven’t been processed, that are free from hormones and pesticides. These foods are free of anything unnatural that can harm our bodies. When we eat clean, our bodies feel better. So it only makes sense that to live clean, our souls would feel better.
To live clean, without complaining or arguing, gives us a better outlook on each other, and our own lives. We all know people who can be labeled as a “Debbie downer”, and often times we can all be guilty of that… But just think of how that one person can affect everyone else’s emotions. When we surround ourselves with people who live clean, doesn’t it make their happiness shine into our lives? Let us all live clean lives, so that we shine like bright lights in a world that we all know, today more than ever, is full of crooked and perverse people.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12 NLT)
Think of a time when you were REALLY looking forward to something… And then all the details fell thru and you weren’t able to have or do that thing? What a bummer! Now… Think of a time when your desire was met. How did you feel? Awesome? Elated?
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Pretty simple way of thinking, yet, such a powerful statement!
A dream, no matter how small or great can change someone’s life. In a relationship it’s important to support the other person… 100%. Even if you don’t always agree with that dream, it’s important to be there for them, to guide them on the right path. Picking up someone you love after they fall isn’t the only way of support, but also helping them along the way. Showing them that their dream is your dream, because their happiness brings you happiness!
So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. (Colossians 3:12-14 MSG)
Forgiveness is one of the hardest Christian duties. But it even says that we must forgive those who wrong us before God can fully forgive our own wrongdoings. This is a hard one to master, because we as humans are not as strong as our Lord.
Compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline, these are all qualities that come natural to us. But it’s says, be quick to forgive…. That one is not as easy for us. For the person that happens to be the wrong-doer, this forgiveness can mean the world to them. To free them of the guilt that sticks in their stomach, can open a whole new outlook on life, and teach them that the forgiveness you gave is greater than the sin.
We have all at one time or another, been the wrong-doer. Just as sometimes it’s our loved ones who hurt us. Forgive as quickly and completely as the master forgave you. God wants to forgive us, which is why he sent his son to suffer and be crucified for us. Can you imagine? We sin so many times against him, and yet he still sent Jesus to die FOR OUR SINS so that we may be forgiven. What an awesome love that is! May we all have that same awesome love not just for him, but for each other. So that we may be quick to forgive each other as he is for us.
“I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father. (John 15:11-15 MSG)
Before I discuss this one, I would like to you to ask yourself something… Have you told someone, “I love you?” today? Tell someone! Tell them, REALLY TELL THEM, and mean it.
For those of you whom are married, you took a marriage vow that most likely stated that you promise to always love them, for better or worse. Love isn’t always easy! You’re going to fight, you’re going to have a rut where the love you once felt lays dormant… But, it is still there!
When we baptize our children, we vow to always nurture them, and love them, and teach them Gods love…. Even on their worst days, full of messy rooms and back talk. It’s hard to hear and feel the up-most-love that you had the moment they were born, but it’s there!
Even when we, children of God, sin against him and stray off his path, we might not feel it at that time, but it’s there… His love for us is always there!
We all know these points. At sometime or another they have come up in our lives. They are qualities that everyone knows. But it’s important to be reminded of them, so that we can not only know them, but follow them. Hold these values in your hearts, carry them with you, embrace the love that God gives you, and most importantly, love one another as he does us.
Lord, as we go about our day, help us to see your reflection when we look in the mirror. Help us to express our love to you, our family, and people throughout the world. We are not perfect and we know we will need your help. Cultivate in us the desire to have a special relationship with you, so even if at times we have a lack of love, our emptiness can be filled by your love. Be a living, personal presence in our lives, so we may reflect your image in all that we do. Amen