1 Corinthians 13:1-8a (NASB)
The Excellence of Love
13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails
I was reading this powerful passage from 1 Corinthians the other day and thought, “Wow, I wonder sometimes if we just fly past the first part of this popular chapter of the Bible in order to get to the part further down about what love is so we can get with it and try harder to start loving others more often?” I know for sure that I have done this in the past. In fact, this is the first time I have paid such close attention to the first three verses and really spent time meditating on them. Here’s my conclusion from doing so.
The Apostle Paul says we could speak the languages of men and of angels, have the gift of prophecy, know all mysteries and possess all knowledge, have enough faith to move mountains, give everything we have to the poor and even sacrifice our body for the cause of Christ, but if we don’t have love…we have nothing.
Ummmm….Wow. From the looks of this, we can appear to have it all together in other people’s eyes and look like spiritual giants to them, but actually if we don’t have love, it really doesn’t matter what it looks like…we have nothing.
Of course, if we take these verses the wrong way by trying to live them out under the law it will set us on one of the most frustrating journey’s of our entire existence. This is why I want to tell you what I believe the secret is to being able to walk in love with others.
It’s not trying harder to be more loving. It’s not listening to a podcast on how you better get it together and start loving others more often. And it’s not in feeling guilty enough hours of the day for being a unloving person that you hope it will somehow convince you to turn the corner and change once and for all.
The secret to loving others is not actually found in focusing so much on the fact that we need to love others, it’s found in focusing on and meditating on and receiving and getting excited about and being thankful for and getting a revelation of God’s unconditional love toward us.
I believe this is the secret to walking in love because I have personally experienced such a powerful transformation in my own life from seeing how much God loves me that it naturally started bubbling out of me toward others. I didn’t even have to make a plan for it. I have just noticed over the last couple of years that as I continued to receive His love for me day in and day out, I wanted so badly to give away the love I was receiving. And I am not only referring to loving people who act lovely all the time, but also to people who act unlovely as well. How? As we receive God’s love, which is unconditional, that’s the type of love we start desiring to love others with!
Look, here’s proof:
1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.”
What do you think would happen if we frequently meditated on this next verse?
Romans 5:8 “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (NLT)
Here’s what would happen: We would live our lives in such awe of the fact that Christ died for us right in the middle of us being sinners that we would find ourselves having more compassion on others who sin. We would find ourselves saying more often. “Hey, I have no desire to judge that person because if not for the grace of God I could be right where they are. So instead of judging them (which will do them no good) I want to pray for them and love them with the love that Christ loves me with!”
And what’s going to happen to us when we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are God’s children? (as it says below in John 3:1a)
See how very much our Father loves us, for He calls us His children, and that is what we are!
I’ll tell you what’s going to happen. We are going to become so secure in this truth that we will begin to lose our need to retaliate when others mistreat us. No matter what, we will constantly find ourselves running back to God’s love for us and to the truth that we belong to Him.
My friend, please know that nothing will ever be able to separate you from the love of God because God is love. It’s not just what He does, it’s Who He is!
Romans 8:35-39 (NLT)
35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Here are some ways you can dwell on God’s love for you on a daily basis:
- Google the phrase Bible verses on how much God loves me
- Listen to worship music and songs about God’s love for you
- Make yourself a God Loves Me music playlist or more than one (I have three)
- Listen to teachings filled with the Gospel of grace, the good news
- Receive communion on a regular basis to honor the sacrifice that Jesus made for you
- Purposely think about all the good things God does for you
- Keep a book of remembrance where you write down God’s goodness toward you and your family and friends
- Break out in song at any given moment about how much God loves you and how thankful you are for His love
I’m sure you will even think of more great ways to focus on God’s love for you in addition to what I have listed here.
I am so excited for you to experience an increased ability to love others as you continue each day getting a deeper and deeper revelation of God’s love for you.
It’s not like you’re going to have a day where you say, “OK, now I got it completely, so I can move on to something else.” Nope, the Bible talks about how God’s love is so great that we will never fully be able to grasp it here on this earth, but let me tell you, I’m sure having a awesome time unpacking His love every single day of my life.
Ephesians 3:18-19 (NLT)
18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Wow! Although I have read Ephesians 3:18-19 many times before I am sitting here reading it to my husband and getting choked up thinking about the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus. Let’s all stay amazed every day by God’s great love for each of us. It’s life-changing!