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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Growing in Christ Part 18


As I continue to meditate on the handful of necessary attributes Peter tells us we ought to have, I’ve come to the realization that if all the others are building blocks in our spiritual house, love, the last attribute Peter mentions, is the roof which protects all the others from the elements.

Love is the covering that keeps faith, brotherly kindness, virtue, godliness, perseverance, and self-control, and without love, though one might have possessed these things they begin deteriorate over time.

If love is not the driving force behind our actions, no matter how much we attempt to do, no matter how completely we devote ourselves to some branch of ministry, it will have been for naught.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.”

What we must understand is that we can be noble, selfless, charitable, giving, empathetic, and guileless, and still not possess love. Paul even goes so far as to infer that one can be selfless to the point of self-sacrifice, yet still not possess the requisite love. If this happens to be the case, though an individual sacrificed themselves, it still profits them nothing if love was not the engine, the driving force, the reason behind the reason they made the ultimate sacrifice.

Men do various things for various reasons, and very rarely is the reason something as pure and noble as love. As children of God our reason for doing all we do in the name of God must be love in order for it to be received as a sweet smelling sacrifice.

So how do we know it is love fueling our endeavors? How do we know we possess the love Paul speaks of? Like anything else in the universe love has certain attributes, certain characteristics by which it is identified, and being the detail oriented man that he was Paul goes on to define love, and outline the attributes thereof.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

In order to ascertain whether or not someone is acting out of love or an ulterior motive all one must do is see whether the attributes which go along with what love is and how it is defined are there. If someone parades themselves, is puffed up, behaves rudely, is selfish or seeks their own agenda or profit and envies, then chances are that they are not acting out of love, and that love is not present in their actions.

The Bible not only tells us what love is, it tells us what love isn’t and how we can discern between feigned love and true love.

First, true love suffers long and is kind. Although the notion of suffering long is a subjective one, since a long time for me might not seem so for another, it is only when we choose not to understand what the Word is attempting to say that we can feign ignorance.

Love suffers long. Within the context of this scripture to suffer is to tolerate or to endure. As such, to suffer has a negative connotation. We don’t suffer a day at the beach, but we do suffer martyrdom and persecution.

Many an individual define certain aspects of their existence as suffering when it really isn’t suffering, then grow proud of their own ability to suffer long even though in actuality they’ve not suffered.

Some define suffering as not having found their preferred flavor of ice cream at the supermarket, or their jean size at the clothing store. That is not suffering, or at least not the suffering that love compels us to endure.
It is because we love, and because love suffers long that we endure the slights and mocking of the godless yet still tell them of the love Jesus has for them. It is because we love, and because love suffers long that we endure all that we must for the furtherance of the Kingdom, knowing that He who sees all will reward all in due season.

With love in Christ,
Michael Boldea Jr.

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