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Motivated by Love Part 2

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Perhaps the number one challenge to loving as Christ loves is a certain four letter word, which is fouler than any curse word, yet is acceptable to say in church settings; that word is “SELF”. This is especially evidenced in verses 4-7 of 1 Corinthians 13, as displaying these attributes seem to be completely opposed to our selfish nature.

Love suffers long – literally forbearing, to patiently endure. The same word is used in 2 Peter 3:9 used to describe God’s longsuffering towards us, not willing that any should perish. Just think of how God patiently endured with you prior to you accepting His love; this is the same kind of love which must be shown by us towards others, even after years upon years of rejecting our love as we rejected God’s love. Kind – this word means to show oneself useful; to act benevolently. This means that all of our actions towards others is to spring from a desire to be of benefit to others, giving no thought to how our treatment of them will or will not benefit us. True agape love does not boast or put on a show for others, rather it is to be completely void of self-boasting. It should not point to ourselves but always to Christ. Often the greatest acts of love are those done in secret without any possibility of others recognizing.

Love does not behave rudely- literally, it does nothing to cause shame. Often in our “humanness” we tend to make people earn our love and then hoard it over them as a guilt trip when they fail to reciprocate that love or behave in the manner that we would like them to. This is completely opposed to the nature of Jesus, who loved us while we were sinners and enemies of His (Romans 5:8). We are to display a love that seeks nothing in return and only seeks to give of itself, not for itself. Agape love is one that is not easily angered no matter how many times someone intentionally or unintentionally offends us. Such a love cannot be of ourselves but drawn from God alone, who, in His mercy, turns His wrath away from us continually (Psalm 78:38). The thought of retribution and evil coming upon others should never cross our minds, nor should we automatically assume the worst of others as too often is the case with us.

True agape love should not be happy about nor apathetic towards the sin of others, but we should always seek to speak the truth even when it hurts. Too often we wait for others to sin so that we can point the finger at them and say “I knew it,” while puffing ourselves up as superior. Other times we are afraid to come to others about their sin because we are fearful of how they will react towards us. But agape love seeks to speak the truth and expose sin, not to lord it over others but always for their benefit and reconciliation to God and to others (Galatians 6:1-2).

Finally, love bears all things – that literally means “to cover with silence.” In other words, just as God’s love towards us pardons our iniquities, so our love towards others covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8), so that by doing so it would point others to Christ. To believe all things means that we would seek to believe the best about others; that is not to be gullible or ignorant of someone with evil intent but rather to believe the best of others unless proven otherwise. To hope all things is not to “wish for” as we commonly use the word today, but rather to have a confident expectation based on our love in Christ. Lastly, this kind of love allows us to endure all manners of trials and persecution for the sake of our beloved, namely Christ.

In all of these attributes of love we see one common theme… it DOES! Our love for God and others is manifest in our obedience to God and His commandments (John 14:22-24), namely to love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40). This kind of love is simply impossible in and of ourselves… the more we attempt to love this way out of self and our own strength, then the more we will find ourselves failing, disappointed and frustrated. Ultimately, we love because we were first loved (1 John 4:19). But that goes far beyond our initial acceptance of Christ and salvation; everyday we have to remind ourselves of the great love that Christ has bestowed upon us. As we grow in maturity, so should we grow in our understanding of our sin, how much it grieves God, and with it the exorbitant price that He paid for us out of love… which even if we had a billion trillion years we could not begin to fathom the depths of His love for us (Ephesians 3:17-19). It is this deepening of our understanding of Christ’s love for us that should motivate us into action to love Him back and to love others as He loved us. I pray that in all your Christian service and growth that you never move past the cross, but always reflect on that ultimate act of sacrificial love.

Reflection Questions:
1. Try replacing "love" with your name in these verses. How well are you fulfilling these verses? Where do you find yourself falling short?
2. Take a moment to reflect on some of the greatest sins that you have committed. Consider how Christ has forgiven you of all of those sins and loved you in the midst of those sins. In light of how Christ has loved you, how can you practice loving others who have offended or hurt you?

Take a moment to praise God for His agape love that is personal for you, and most clearly evidenced in the sacrificial work of Jesus on the cross. Repent of (turn away from) any ways that you have not walked in love towards others, according to the manner outlined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Ask that God would give you a greater understanding of just how deeply He loves you. Ask Him to so consume you with His love that it would become the driving force behind all that you think, say, and do.