I spend alot of time thinking about what it means to love like Christ. It's such a small statement, but so difficult to truly live. I wrestle with my flesh all of the time when it comes to dying to myself and truly loving others as I've been called to love them.
Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." - John 13:34-35
It's a command. Love one another as I have loved you. If we claim the name of Jesus, we don't have a choice about this one.
As I was thinking about it this morning, I came across a really familiar verse that struck me afresh.
"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." - I Corinthians 13:4-8a
This is a tough list. I've always known that. But, somehow it challenged me anew this morning.
Love is patient.
How often do I lose my temper? How often am I short with someone? How many times have I felt like the Lord was slow in bringing about His promises? Every time I failed to love.
Love is kind.
Sarcastic? Yes, sometimes I am. Sharp? Unfortunately, yes. Oblivious to the needs of those around me? Too often. And, every time I failed to love.
Love does not envy.
Ouch. Green-eyed monster. "I wish I had what she has". "I wish I could go to this place or do that thing". And, every time I failed to love.
Love does not boast; it is not proud.
How many times have I needed a pat on the back, so I boasted of my accomplishments? How many times have I felt the need to be recognized, so I made sure people knew what I had done? Every time I failed to love.
Love is not rude or self-seeking.
Too often I have put my own needs before the needs of the ones I was called to love. Too often I have thought of my own best interest and not the best interest of the Kingdom. Too many times I have let my tongue rule me instead of the other way around. And, every time I failed to love.
Love is not easily angered and it keeps no records of wrong.
Whoa. Keeps no records of wrongs? Forgives AND forgets? Difficult to anger and quick to forgive? Lord, teach me to live that way because every time I get angry and hold a grudge, I fail to love.
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the Truth.
Have I ever taken pleasure in someone else's pain? Have I ever been secretly glad that they "got what was coming to them"? Do I rejoice in truths that convict me and correct me? How many times have I failed to love in this?
Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perserveres. Love never fails.
Do I fail to protect the ones I love? Do I fail to stand up for them? Do I withhold my trust? Do I lose hope? Do I fail to perservere? Do I give up to easily? Every time I do, I fail to love.
Some of that hit me harder than other parts. Love keeps no record of wrong. That's hard for us humans. It's natural for our flesh to hold onto things, not to trust again, and maybe even rejoice when someone "gets their due".
I have been really angry today. I've been deeply wounded. People that I love are in pain. The reasons seem foolish and weak to me. It exhausts me. It makes me weep. It breaks my heart.
But, love always hopes. Love always perserveres. Love never fails.
What if Christ had given up on me? What if He had decided that we weren't worth the pain? What if He held our past wrongs against us?
I shudder at the thought.
And, so I set my mind on the thing that are before me. Lord, help me to forgive as I struggle in my flesh. Lord, give me wisdom. Thank you for loving me enough to correct me and show me Your light. Make me more like You. Shine through me so that others may come to know You and the hope, life, and light that You bring.