As for a description of love, itself, and its significance inwardly-and-outwardly? “…So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always ‘me first,’ doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end.” (I Cor. 13:3-7, The Message)
I came across an interesting article written by John Belt of overflowglobal.com, and it discusses what I see as a corollary tie between love and the Holy Spirit feeling welcome in our individual “temples.”
Belt writes, “How important it is for us to be covered with the oil of His Presence, the fragrance of the incense of prayer. Our choices and the things we engage in determine the fragrance that we carry. God wants us to be saturated with His oil. Depending on the type of fragrance that our lives carry we will attract certain things…There are some things that only attract flies. We want our lives to be attractive to God, to the Holy Spirit. There are things that can grieve and drive away the Holy Spirit, then there are things that welcome His Presence…many would like to think that it is just default for the Holy Spirit to dwell in us because it is true that we are ‘the temple of the Holy Spirit.’ The truth is that we need to make Him feel at home, not taking for granted that if we do anything we please He will just ‘get over it.’ To the degree we surrender our hearts in devotion, to the same degree He makes us His abode. If Jesus comes to the temple of our hearts and finds it filled with idolatry and abomination He may need to turn the tables over to get our hearts turned around.”*
Two scriptures and mental images flash into my mind as I read this. The first originates in Psalm 133:2, “It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes…” (Psa. 133:2, NASB) Covered with the oil of His Presence.
The second image involves an imaginative picturing of Revelation 5:8, “When He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints…” (NASB)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you….” (John 16:23, NASB)
Hearts surrendered in devotion. I think of the word “devotion” as a romantic, untainted, almost old-fashioned description. Dictionary.
Paul spoke sternly to the Corinthians when he warned, “…for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:2b-3, italics added, NASB)
And that leads us to a connection with “the temple of our hearts,” and the potential for “idolatry and abomination” to be found among the items strewn and stacked across those internal tabletops. Tables sometimes carefully built, sometimes unknowing stacked and lined up together until they form a long line…appropriately, a chain of tables… and on them, those things that can actively lead us astray from the “simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”
I would venture that “those things” would be the reverse attributes to those qualities described in I Corinthians 13: choosing to give up and not persevere for the release of His glory, our conforming to His image…caring more for self than for others…seeking, even coveting, what is noticed around us but not possessed…prideful strutting and self-proclamation…flying off the handle, keeping track of personal wrongs and hurts inflicted by others…embracing a sense of satisfaction at the groveling of others, not encouraging and fertilizing the flowering of truth…possessing little tolerance for the shortcomings of others, “putting up” with little, distrusting God’s ways, motives, Love, and guidance…seeing flaws and faults in others, rather than the blossoming and bursts of Christ’s character…looking to the past with regret, rather than the future, with optimism… throwing in the towel before the locker room of life closes….
Trust steadily. Hope unswervingly. Peter wrote, “Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything…be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus…” (I Peter 4:8, The Message)
We release ourselves to the power of devotion….that He may feel very much at home…