Love Never Fails
The love of
My love for and relationship
with others is a very tangible way in which I can continue
the work of the Lord Himself. Jesus wants me to love other
people as He would love them were He here in the flesh.
What a solemn opportunity; what an incredible challenge.
Of our own, we simply are not up to it, but by His grace
and love continuing to work in us.
I am to love because that is
part of the work and character of Jesus. And He never fails.
So let's review some of the
characteristics and manifestations Jesus' love.
Love first. Human love tends to be a natural
response to someone else's love or favor. God's love doesn't
wait; He loves first. He won't (and didn't) sit around
waiting for someone to love Him so then He could respond
with His love. No way! "We
love him, because he first loved us" (1 John
4:19). "Herein is love, not
that we loved God, but that he loved us" (1
John 4:10a). And that is precisely how God wants to work
His love through us toward those about us.
Love actively. For many folks, love is a
noble concept, an oh-so-nice feeling. God's love gets beyond
the moving of the senses and the theorizing of the mind.
God's love acts. An extremely well-known verse shows us
the active dimension of God's love: "For
God so loved the world that He gave..." (John
3:16). Matthew 14:14 doesn't use the term love but
it definitely demonstrates it and its action: "And
Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved
with compassion toward them, and he healed their sick." God
doesn't want us to sit back in self-satisfied "accomplishment" at
our internal churnings of love, empathy and compassion.
He wants us moved to action!
Love sacrificially. Natural love may well move
us to give up something for another. Provided we can manage
without it. Or we have grown weary of it. Or we have something
better. God's love moved Him to sacrifice. And He chose
His absolute best for that sacrifice. No left-overs, second-rate
stuff or useless trinkets when God sacrifices for the objects
of His love! He "sent his
Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1
John 4:10b). Sometimes we sing, "Give of your best
to the Master." That's good. How often do we live, "Give
of your best to another"? That's love.
I urge you to review passages
like 1 John 4:7-21 and 1 Corinthians 13 to mine from them
the treasures of God's love to us.
Then let's faithfully continue
What is love?
How "attached" are
you to the other members of your congregation? Perhaps
that is too broad for you. Narrow it down, then. How attached
are you to the others in your youth group? I mean, all
of them! What are the limits of your love and commitment
to each one of them? What good would you not do
Love is a hard word for us because we paint all kinds
of mushy word pictures in our mind and emotions when we
hear it. And we find it nigh impossible to paint certain
people into such a picture. Then we feel condemned by verses
which tell us to love our enemies, to love our neighbor,
and to love the brotherhood. And we become somewhat frightened
and ashamed when we are told that the measure of our love
for God is our love for our brother. We just have a hard
time working up nice, mushy emotions about and feelings
toward certain individuals.
I have good news and "bad" news
for you. The good news first -- genuine love does not depend
on feelings and emotions. You can actually love someone
without feeling mushy, warm, and brotherly!
Now for the "bad" news
-- loving is so easy it's hard. Loving is doing good for another. For because
you endeavor to benefit only the recipient of your love.
You have no interest in personal gain; the futility of
that is shown in 1 Corinthians 13:3. Doesn't that indeed
sound easy? However, it's also hard because life simply
teems with untold opportunities to do good to others. You
know, if we aren't "careful" we will find ourselves
over-exerted in our efforts to love others!
Now let me fling another good-sized "monkey
wrench" into the works. God calls on us to so love
(do good for) others that we willingly take a personal
loss. That markedly steepens the price of love.
Love never fails. Even when
it means no personal gain. Even when it results in personal
loss. Only by God's grace can we love that way. Only because
of His love can we love that way.
Lesson 9 -- first quarter 2006,
July 30, 2006
Roth © Copyright 2006