In the hectic pace of life that most of us live in today, most Christians spend little time in intentionally looking in the mirror at our own spiritual formation. When we do stop and think about how we are growing spiritually, we often focus on spiritual gifts such as prophecy and discernment or spiritual disciplines like prayer and scripture reading. While these things should be growing and evident in our lives, we often fail to stop and examine the most basic and vital part of our life in Christ…Love.
I know… you have heard it before. “The greatest of these is Love”. Yadda, yadda, yadda, and so on and so on. We consider ourselves to be good people that love God so we assume that we got the whole “love” thing down. But if we are honest with ourselves, we are probably not as loving as we thought. So to tackle the thing that we think we know, lets look at the verse we think we know just because we have heard it at every wedding.
1 Corinthians 13
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
These verses remind us that if we work on all of the supernatural gifts and focus on faith and generosity so that we basically have superheroes powers; we are still an annoying irritating nobody. All of it is pointless. Your word of knowledge, your charity work, and the miracle that happened; it is all worth nothing if it wasn’t done because of love.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
We could go on for a long time examining all that these few verses can teaches about what love looks like but for the sake of “honest self examination” lets look at the following:
“And it keeps no record of being wronged.”
We default to thinking that we love people, but we are so easily hurt, offended, betrayed. We say we forgive but in the back of our minds we still have a drawer full of wrongs committed against us just in case they hurt us again and we need evidence in our case to punish or cut people off. So we are cautious with them and we remember everything. It’s the co worker who we don’t trust and separate ourself from because last year they took credit for something we did. Or it’s the family member that you have “forgiven” for the thing they said six years ago but you chose to only see them at Christmas that way they don’t have a chance to hurt you again.
We are quick to justify this kind of “Forgivness” and say that we still love them… but it is completely contrary from the love that God demonstrates towards us.
But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. – Romans 5:8
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west. – Psalm 103:12
Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. – Micah 7:18-19
You can not be waiting for someone to prove that they will not hurt you again and call it “love”. What if God would wait for you to prove that you will not turn against him before loves and completely embraces us?
His love truly keeps no record of wrong…so why does ours?
If we want our spiritual gifts and the authority that we have in the kingdom to be worth anything, then we have to ask God to shape our love first. It all starts and ends with His love.