Friday, April 13, 2012

A little about love...

A famous sculptor was once asked how he produced such beautiful and realistic sculptures.  He replied that he just chipped away the parts that didn't look like what he was trying to make until before him was the likeness that he wanted. We can apply this to our spiritual lives. We just need to keep chipping away the parts of ourselves that don't look like Jesus, right?

When I study the gospels, the most overwhelming attribute of Jesus that I see is love.  Love for God our Father and of our neighbor.  Jesus said that if we followed these two commandments, we would keep them all. In fact, when he taught about love he had a radical idea.  " But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."- Luke 6:27

This is a hard teaching. There are some people in my life that have hurt me badly. But once I started praying for them over time I found I was able to forgive.  I prayed for their salvation, that God would move in their lives as well as mine. I prayed for the strength to forgive and that those that had hurt me would change from the inside out. It worked on my end. Not overnight by any means, but today I find that my heart is at peace because the issues I struggled with are gone.  I am at peace with these old hurts. And when their ugliness rears its head, I pray again. The person you hold a grudge against isn't bothered by it, it is ourselves that suffer. When we are unforgiving it eats holes in our hearts, not theirs. Bitterness can consume us. What about anger? There is a place for it as long as we take care not to sin. Some things should make us angry. Should we stand by while a child is hurt? Never. We should be angry enough to do something to stop the situation. Because we are called to love doesn't mean we're called to be doormats. We should never tolerate people hurting others, desecrating our Father, or cruelness to those who cannot defend themselves. There is an anger that is righteous. Our Father was angry many times with Israel, wasn't he? In Ephesians 4:26 it says: "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.-Ephesians 4:26. The quotation marks are because Paul was quoting Psalm 4:4.

I think one of the most awesome examples of love was when Jesus was on the cross, in agony.  He took on the sin of the world and hung there being mocked while he suffered, bled, and died. And what did he say? "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." What a perfect love.

A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.-Luke 6:40

So this is the sort of love we must strive for. In 1 Corinthians 13 we get the perfect description of love.
Paul begins this famous chapter by saying "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."-1 Cor 13:1-3
We can do all the good works we want, but if it isn't done in love there's no point in it.  So what is this love like? What are its attributes? Paul lists them for us: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails...1 Cor 13:4-8.

Jesus teaches in Luke that: "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thorn bushes, or grapes from briers. The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.- Luke 6:43-45

So we should take a look at our lives and see what kind of fruit are we producing. Of course we know that we aren't perfect. If we were we wouldn't have needed a Savior in the first place! But day by day as we study the scriptures and apply them to our lives we can become more like him. When an expert in the law tried to test Jesus in Luke 10 by asking him what he must do to have eternal life, Jesus answered his question with a question of his own. (I love how Jesus often did that.) Jesus asked him what was written in the law.
He answered: " ' Love the Lord your God with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' " 
"You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."-Luke 27-28
Then the man tried to trip Jesus up by asking who his neighbor was, and Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan, pointing out that our neighbors are all we cross paths with. So today let's chip away at the part of ourselves that looks out for number one (ourselves) and chose to love God with all our heart and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves.

I want to leave you with this beautiful song, How Great is our God. The English is by Chris Tomlin and throughout the song the language changes. There is Indonesian, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, and an African language among others. May it bless your day as it did mine!

1 comment:

  1. If you need some scripture when under attack, look under encouragement. I've listed some good ones there.