I was wrapping meat for the freezer when I felt the Lord break into my thoughts and whisper, “A heart full of love does not count the cost. A heart full of love responds joyfully, even to the point of exhaustion, for it is focused on accomplishing the goal set before it – a goal motivated by, and encouraged forward, through the strength and power of love.”
I felt like I had received a fresh bite of “daily bread” for encouragement. And as I pondered, it got me thinking…
We don’t always hear words like “strength” and “power” associated with “love,” but it is a Scripturally sound connection. Too often, people discuss a half-crippled concept of “love” that has been relegated to the physical, the romantic, the sensual. It is self-directed, and described in opposite terms, those of weakness or inadequacy. Certainly some and some concepts of “love” are confined and defined within those walls… but not the love described in I Corinthians 13.
The Message translation writes, “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: 4-7)
“…Keeps going to the end.” That is great encouragement, when we choose to invest our love – and the energies inherent in that love – in Him. That is also great encouragement when we consider that, as the Creator of love, that is how God pursues us. He takes pleasure in the flowering of truth in our lives; He puts up with anything…He is worthy of being trusted always, always looking for the best in us.
As I ponder on those words, I pick up a sense of a motivational component built in to that pure, selfless manifestation of love. And I suspect the purpose of that empowering aspect is to make it easier – not more difficult – for us to connect with His love, when we seek it…and maybe even to see each other with greater compassion, tolerance, acceptance….and yes, with the same love as He sees us.
Jesus was an expert at loving, while it seems that those who know Him still struggle, remaining such novices. Maybe you have experienced that thought sneaking up in the back of your mind, too….there’s some elusive component to consistently allowing His love to extend outwards, through you.
Jesus gave several foundation-stone teachings regarding love, and they all reflected two attributes: heart condition and selflessness. In Mark 12:31, Jesus responded to a question about “the greatest commandment” by stating, “The second is this – ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Mark 12:31, NASB)
The Gospel of John is “chalk-full” of teachings about love. In John 15:13, Jesus is quoted as teaching, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (NASB) The Gospel begins with “God so loved the world” (John 3:16, NASB). Through the course of John’s writing, Jesus teaches “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” (John 13:35) “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love,” (John 15:9), and “…I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17:26).
Did you catch the promise in John 17:26? “…and will make it known….” Active, current, ongoing – not past tense. He is always and continuously, actively making His name know to us, so that “the love with which You loved Me may be in them…”
Maybe even profound enough to add to the contemporary concept of the phrase, “love life.” Perhaps that phrase is not accurately represented as being about personal desires or gratification. Perhaps a more Scriptural interpretation would be, “How is the outward flow of God’s love moving through you, impacting and embracing those in your circle of friends, acquaintances, and strangers?”
Well, now….that could actually turn the world around you – and around me – upside down. Like the disciples’ lives.
Like Jesus’ life.