There has been a lot of talk recently on the national and local levels about love winning. In particular since the Supreme Court of the United States made marriage legal for not only heterosexual couples but also homosexual couples. Of course there are those who are very upset and I can certainly understand the outrage. After all when was the largest and most powerful court in America made to play the role of God who created and instituted the state of marriage? Generations upon generations and years upon years of the tradition of marriage is being overturned. There are many news article and personal posts concerning both sides of this issue so I am not going to drag all of this before you here today. Instead I want to discuss the chant that fills our land “Love Won.” What is love? That is the real question. As always I turn to the Bible for the true definition of love. The Apostle Paul wrote a wonderful description of the word love in a letter to the Christians at Corinth. Let’s start there.
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. 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. 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. Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13:1-13, (New American Standard Bible or NASB)
The first thing we learn about love is what it isn’t. It isn’t loud, it isn’t showing off, it isn’t full of knowledge, it isn’t proud, it isn’t busy. If all the goals of a person’s life are achieved, great knowledge, great wealth, great success, great feats, but all is done without love Paul says that person is nothing. Let that sink in for a moment. What do most successful people want out of life these days? They want admiration and esteem and everyone around them to know that they have made it, they have arrived, that they are the standard set before us! But Paul, under the influence of the Holy Spirit (God), says that anything done without love makes that person nothing.
So what is love? Love is patient…like a Mama and a toddler, like a parent and a teen, like an old person with a young person…patient. Love is kind and is not jealous. Wow! Most of western civilization runs off of jealousy and if you don’t think so then you haven’t been hearing the sales pitch of advertising. If the ad can make us want something it is usually in the vein of keeping up with the Jones that we created our desire for more. And that my friend is born out of jealousy. Love does not brag and is not arrogant. Books could be written about that simple statement. It is pretty self-explanatory to me. A loving person doesn’t brag about their lives, their jobs, their cars, their kids their clothes…get the picture? Oh but the next one is a jewel…love does not act unbecoming, we see far too much of unbecoming behavior in our society today. Love does not seek its own, is not provoked, and does not hold a grudge. Love in fact does the opposite of these and forgives and doesn’t like to see harm done to anyone. Love does, however rejoice in the truth being told, being displayed, being found out. Oh I could go on here but I think you all are getting the picture. Love is not standing around demanding that your rights to anything be forced upon another human being. That is not love that is selfishness.
Love is a gift that we gift to others; we choose who we want to love and who we don’t want to love. God made each human heart with the capacity to love and I think that was His gift to us. But as a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to show love so is the choice ours alone? Do I, a follower of JC, have the right to withhold my love from anyone? Now think about this before you answer. Imagine that I had been raped or scared horribly in a car accident with a drunk driver, or had a family member murdered. I surly won’t be required to love those people I mean a fair and just God wouldn’t make a holocaust victim love Hitler, right?
But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. “Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.” Luke 6:35-38, (NASB).
Do you know who spoke these words? Do you know who said to love your enemies and to a holocaust victim Hitler was certainly the enemy? Jesus Christ spoke these words in His sermon on the mount as part of the beatitudes. Why would Jesus demand such love for those who hate us? Because Jesus knew that love will be the only thing that lasts, it is the only thing man has to give that can’t be taken from us. Our property can be taken away, our family can be taken away and even our life can be taken away but our faith in Jesus which is the source of love cannot be touched if we stay true to God’s word. You see this earth is only a part of our story. There is eternity coming and love is the only thing we can store up for eternity that matters. Our wealth and everything else from this world will be gone, even our body will die. Love is the test we pass while on this earth. Love survives the fires of testing. Hate will burn up in the flames of judgement but love will survive the fiery furnace. How do I know this?
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. First Corinthians 3:10-15, (NASB).
Every person is building something in this life. Old Marley was right about that in Charles Dickens book “The Christmas Carol” remember? Old Marley showed up as a ghost with a long and heavy chain that encumbered him to warn Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge to change his ways before death came knocking. The worldly success model is based on money, houses, land, and worldly goods. It is true that we need some worldly goods in order to sustain life but we don’t need as much as most of us think we must have. Still there is no mention of love in this part of scripture so I haven’t fully explained myself have I?
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also. I John 4:7-21, (NASB).
You see it? Love will last and all that we do in the name of love for Jesus will last. If we hate anyone then we are not a child of God, we are a liar and will not be spending eternity with God. Love will last. The protesters spouting that “Love Won” spout truth because only love can win in this world; however the motive behind their shouts is not really love from God. I think it is revenge and self-centered and not true love but twisted love. Oh there may be some who are shouting the chant that are very loving and forgiving but not most. If the love they shout was true love then they would not stand there and shout and draw attention to themselves now would they? I refer you back to the Apostle Paul’s description of love that we read first…love does not act unbecomingly, does not seek its own, is not provoked.
If you are for gay marriage then be assured I will treat you with love and respect. If you are against gay marriage then be assured I will treat you with love and respect. I don’t have to agree or disagree with gay marriage in order to show you love. You don’t have to agree with me to show me love. But if you are saying that you are a Christian and I am saying that I am a Christian then love had better be evident in both of our lives, wouldn’t you agree?
Until next time…Katherine