” Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away, ”
(I Corinthians 13:8).
The world would lead you to believe that love is easy and love is cheap. In the course of even casual conversations you may hear people say “I love you” even to almost strangers. We hear it on television. We read about it in books. We read glitzy stories about it in magazines. The phrase “I love you” is popular in our culture but rarely lived out in our lives. Instead, we love conditionally, offering our hearts and minds ways out if it doesn’t work for us. True love ” beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things, ” (I Corinthians 13:7). The love we experience and give is conditional, focused on us and determined to get what we want. The Bible is clear that real, genuine love doesn’t behave this way. ” Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil ;” (I Corinthians 13:4-5).
The love the world offers leaves us empty, dissatisfied, lonely and scared. Thanks be to God because we are not limited to the love of this world. Instead we are offered true, genuine love not only to experience but to give as well. This love comes from God, (I John 4:16) is modeled by Christ, (Romans 5:8) and is free to all (Romans 10:13). The love of Christ cleanses us (II Corinthians 5:21), forgives us (I John 1:9), and sets us free (John 8:32, 36).
The Bible gives us a true picture of what love really is. ” Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, ” (I John 4:10). ” For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life, ” (John 3:16). Christ modeled for us what love looks like and what love is. Love is active and it is focused on the object of your love (Romans 5:8) and not on yourself. True love will go the distance (Philippians 2:8). Genuine love is self-sacrificing (John 15:13). Real love is not a matter of convenience (John 4:4). And finally, true love is unconditional (II Peter 3:9).
Who wouldn’t want this kind of love? Everyone wants it, and in fact, it is the most basic of all needs that each of us craves to fulfill. Unfortunately, for many of us we live our entire lives in search of this amazing love. I have great news for you, my friend. You needn’t search anymore. God is offering this amazing love to each of us and it is free for the asking (Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9). Not only is this love free for us to have, but it is available for us to give. In John 15:12 Jesus says, ” This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. ” It isn’t just available to you. You are expected to share it with others as well. Let’s take a closer look at what true love is and thereby begin to see how we can share this amazing wealth with others.
First of all, Christ modeled that true and genuine love was focused on the object of our love and not on ourselves. For many of us, this is the biggest obstacle to loving others as Christ loved us. We are so caught up in taking care of ourselves, looking out for what is in our best interests and for making sure our own needs are met that we completely forget what the other is feeling and what the consequences of our actions are to them. We totally ignore what is best for them. All of these actions are contrary to Christ’s commandments and very different than the behavior He modeled. Christ left the splendor of heaven to be born among men (Luke 2:11). His purpose was to seek out those who were lost (Luke 19:10) and to pay for us a sin debt He did not owe (II Corinthians 5:21). Everything He did was with you on His mind. Every step He took led Him to the cross where He willingly gave His life for you. He was and is all about you.
His love goes the distance. It doesn’t stop even when you reject Him. Isaiah 53:3 gives us a picture of what He endured prior to the cross. Isaiah says, ” He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not .” Yet He still endured the cross that we might be healed of the sickness of sin. Isaiah 53:5 says, ” But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed .”
Christ showed us by example what it means to sacrifice self for the welfare of another. He took the sins of the whole world upon Himself though He knew no sin of His own. He gave to the point that it hurt (Philippians 2:8). He laid aside all that was best for Him, focused entirely upon you, and then He gave everything He had that you might go free (Romans 8:2). He then explained to us, ” Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends .”
Christ modeled with His life that loving wasn’t always convenient. There was nothing convenient about Him dying on the cross. As extraordinary as that is, His availability didn’t stop with His death on Calvary. In John 4:4 Jesus tells us that He altered His plans and traveled a great distance out of His way even though He was already weary and worn just to meet with a woman that society had deemed unworthy. A woman pushed her way through the heavy throng of a crowd just to touch the hem of His garment. He stopped all He was doing to acknowledge her presence and her faith (Luke 8:43-48). These are but a small fraction of examples of His life of service while on earth to the people He loved. Acts 10:38 says that He ” went about doing good .” He is still doing good. ” Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning ” (James 1:17). ” Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them ” (Hebrews 7:25).
His love is unconditional. He boldly invites everyone to ” Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ” (Matthew 11:28). ” Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need ” (Hebrews 4:16). His invitation for salvation is for every one (Romans 10:13) and His forgiveness is for each of us (I John 1:9) regardless of race, social status, talent, gifts or wrongs we have done. ” For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord ” (Romans 8:38-39) .
There is great peace in knowing that we are loved so purely and so sweetly. The love of Christ truly satisfies our every need (Philippians 4:13) and provides all the strength (Philippians 4:19) we need to live happy, productive and God-filled lives! We can rest in Him, depend upon Him, trust in Him, fellowship with Him and follow Him knowing that everything is working out for our best (Romans 8:28).
We must claim this love and then live it. Jesus lived “I love you” and then asked us to do the same. ” As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love ” (John 15:9). His love will never fail. You are safe with Him. Are you loving as He loves? Are those He has entrusted to your care safe in the arms of your love? When was the last time you took a long look at your relationships and determined they were more important than you? Live I love you and your world will never be the same. ” Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away ” (I Corinthians 13:8).
II Peter 3:9-: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
Romans 10:9-10: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
Luke 8:43-48: ” And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.”