Perfecting Love

If I could speak all the languages of the earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbol.  If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrified my body.  I could boast about it, but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1-3

We all know what the golden rule is, right?  “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” This passage is referenced in Matthew 7:12.  Another passage of scripture which references a similiar truth can be found in Galatians 5:14 which says. . . that the law can be summed up in just one point, and that is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Sounds so simple right?  Wrong. What does it mean to love others as I love myself?  Ephesians 5:29 says . . . After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it,  just as Christ does the church, for we are members of his body.  Just as we all feed ourselves, and take care of our own needs, God in turn is calling us to do the same for others. In everyday circumstances, this is not always the easiest thing to do or live out.  Learning to love as Jesus loves should be a continious work within us.

I see time and time again so many believers get hung up on this.  They get stuck in a trap of unforgiveness, which it turn, binds them and does not leave them free to love.  I myself still get frustrated from time to time and need to ask for God’s continual insight and understanding on how to show God’s kind of love to others.

And what about those people that are rather difficult to love.  Or those ones that have hurt or offended us?  What do we do with that?  Do we justify ourselves by saying things like . . .They are simply just to annoying?  Or how can God expect me to love them?  See how mean and hurtful they act?  Or you can’t expect me to love them, do you know what they did to me?  To ever fully begin to love like Christ does, we must first understand God’s magnificant love for us.

If I were to lay out a laundry list of my life for the world to see, I would most certainly be ashamed.  My life has been anything but perfect.  None of us have completely got it together.  I haven’t met a single person yet that has the absolutely perfect life, we are all sinners and we all fall short and fail God. When you really start to get to know people, we all have a story to tell.  Quite honestly life is usually pretty messy and can sometimes be downright ugly.  All of the messiness and ugliness happened when sin entered the world.  We are all born with this sin and thus our lives can sometimes become a muttled mess because of it.

Thankfully God sent Jesus to take care of the punishment we so deserve.  In him we are given forgiveness of our sins and are made right with him.  When we accept God’s free gift of salvation, only then we are free to love and serve God, because of what he has done for us.  And because of the great love that God has demonstrated for us by sending his very own son to die for us, we in turn are to love with the same kind of love that Jesus showed for us.  And to forgive with the same forgiveness that was freely given to us.  We are so undeserving and yet God sees us as deserving.  We must take on the very attitude of God himself to be able to love with his pure and selfless kind of love and to forgive because of much have we been forgiven.

I’ve found that a good place to begin to show Christ’s love to others is to put it into practice within the family environment God has placed you in.  I know your thinking right, it’s easy to love those that love me, and this is true. But daily living out virtues in our homes is something we all have to learn and put into practice. Usually our home is the place we are most comfortable and the place where we “let our hair down”  and “let it all hang out.”  How often do our families get the brunt of the emotions we are feeling or the difficult circumstances we are facing.  Let us start by practicing the love of Christ within our own families.

Lets take a further look at what 1 Corinthians 13 has to say about love.  In verse 4 it says this . . .Love is patient, love is kind.  Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.  Hmm, are we getting the idea here?  Taking a look within our family setting, how are we measuring up to these standards?  Are we patient when were being asked the same question by our children over and over again?  Are we kind in our responses to annoying requests?  Do our actions show that we truly care and honor those God has placed closest to us?

Verse 5 it goes on to say . . . It (love) does not demand its own way.  It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  Ooh, ouch, I hate when things I’m writing have the power to convict me.  How often do we have an, its my way or the highway attitude?  How often do we get easily agitated with those around us? Or in the midst of a disagreement, throw past hurts in the face of those we love?  How quick are we to offer forgivness to those who hurt us?

Continuing in verses 6 and 7 it says . . .It (love) 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.

Wow, I know you may be thinking, there is just no way we can ever measure up to this kind of love.  No your right, our ability to demonstrate God’s love will never be perfect in this lifetime.  Jesus Christ was the only perfect and sinless man.  But with the help of the Holy Spirit we can be continually increasing in love and when we allow the love of Christ to rule and reign in us, at least then we will be going in the right direction.

Once we begin to put these things into practice within our own families, you will begin to see that it becomes easier and easier to extend Gods kind of love and forgivness to others outside our family and to even those that are not particularally easy to love.  Like learning to play an instrument or perfecting a craft.  We must continually work at “being loving” until eventually it becomes second nature to us and by doing so we are letting God’s nature flow in and through us.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

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