What do we miss when we do not press and strain to understand more fully the practical and spiritual realities that embracing God’s love creates?
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails…” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Some days I have wrestled with this passage, wanting to be able to love others in this God-perfect agape way. I have wrestled with that guilty pressure to love better…as if love was a performance or a graded assignment and this passage is the description of how far short I fall. Critical thoughts, unkind words, selfish action, irritability unleashed…
Then there are other days…
Other days, reading these same love-defining words, I have flipped the coin, my mind counting up the ways that others fall short in loving me, resentments building. Feelings hurt, expectations unmet–I hoard them, pulling them out as if these hurts were a miser’s bright shiny coins. As if they were something of value or worth. I can get this love thing twisted up backwards. Why is it so easy to find the gaps, the imperfections in the love others give? Why can it be so hard to forgive when hurt festers deep?
All this may be true, but I miss the point.
First and foremost, this passage is a description of God’s love for us. God loves us with a love that is ever-so patient and always kind. God does not boast or brag, making us less in the process.
Somehow, caught in the gravity of shortcomings, some struggle to believe that God could, would, will… actually love them. I must clean myself up first. Get myself together. Make it right. Do it right. Then I will deserve this love God has…
To accept God’s love can be a struggle. We can hear the words of God’s love and wish-think, “If only…” With eyes cast down, we can wonder how could God love me when I have done…thought…said… Floundering in belief that hasn’t completely reached past guilt that separates, God’s love seems unreachable. Undeserved.
God answers our struggle.
We were yet
God wrote His love for us with the blood of His Son-Made-Man even while we cared nothing for His sacrifice. Even while we were still enemies, by nature joining the screaming crowds, “Crucify him.”
No this love of God does not wait for me to get myself together, for He understands that without His love, my best efforts cannot close the gap.
In Christ, God’s love keeps no record of wrongs. His love bears all things. His love never fails. It is never not-enough.
This means that I can never need too much or use it all up, running out of chances. His love never fails.
Never falls short.
When we struggle to believe that God can and will love us, remember that our sin-state is not the end of the story. Apart from Christ, our sin does separate us from God. But still His love is for us. He longs for each one of us, believer or not, and He is unwilling that any should perish.
“So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish.”
Just because I need to read them again, I repeat the heart questions from my last post:
If I really, functionally believe that God loves me—how will this day be different?
How will I be different?
How will I love others differently?
How will you?