As we approach the month of February, a month known for being a time for expressions of love, ask yourself what you are personally conveying to those around you. True love “Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7).
My heart hurts from the lack of enduring love that I am witnessing all around me. Never in my adult life have I observed the level of division and hate that I see before me in so many forms. As Christ followers, I believe we are to express something greater. I am not talking about a compromising faith, but I am referencing a love that can endure differences of opinions. I believe we can stand firmly on the promises and instructions provided for us in the Word of God and continue to express love to those who disagree with our stance.
I believe this starts within ourselves, for what is in us will eventually come out. I always like to pose this question, if you are in imminent danger, with only a few seconds to respond, what is the first thing that comes out of your mouth? I would argue that your response is an indicator of what is inside of you. When impurities are heated up, they tend to rise to the surface. I learned this watching my husband make fishing lures. He melts lead to pour into molds during this process. As the metal gets hotter, the impurities rise to the top for him to scoop off.
There are moments in our lives where things are heated up. Perhaps it is a difficult situation that you are walking through, a challenging relational issue, or even a political or ethical stance that is challenged. Regardless of the cause, what comes out when under pressure is an indicator of what is inside. If you take inventory and do not like what is coming out, there is a better way. The Bible tells us, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). He can help us to love in unlovable times and in the most challenging of situations. He teaches us unconditional love.
In the New Testament, Paul addressed the Corinthian church, which had become full of envy, strife, and divisions. He told them that these behaviors were evidence that they were living like mere unchanged individuals. They were not living the “Greater” life they could be demonstrating as Christ followers. In fact, he even tells them that he couldn’t share all that God had for them because of their childish state. He said he had to feed them milk instead of solid food! He challenged them to realize that each of them were co-workers, who should labor together with and for God. He told them that they were God’s field and God’s building! (See 1 Corinthians 3)
Paul’s instructions to the New Testament churches are applicable to the “Church of God” or all believers. We should be not only the field, which God cultivates, but also the house, which God builds; a house in which He intends to dwell! When we take inventory, if we find that we are full of strife and division, we can learn from these instructions that there is a better way.
Later in this same book of the Bible, Paul describes enduring love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT
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.
Could we as believers strive to develop this kind of love for others? Could we instill and demonstrate this kind of love for our children, grandchildren, and all we touch? Could we imagine a world without bullying, without hate for those who look, believe, or act differently than we do? I am not suggesting that we should not have strong convictions about the clear instructions that are provided for us in the Word of God. However, we should equally have strong conviction to love those who believe differently, even while opposing what they believe in.
Jesus demonstrated the greatest love when He laid down His life for us. He did not come to bully and spew hate at those who didn’t believe as He did. He loved in such a selfless way that He endured unbelievable torment for ALL. My passionate plea is that if we call ourselves His follower, we could demonstrate His love during a time of great strife and division in our country. I am praying and asking God to invade our lives in such a way that His love is shown in and through us.