“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained” C.S. Lewis
The breeze blows in as the sun sags low on the horizon. Dinner’s still unmade and words twist tangled in a mess in my head and my heart. I’m dying for some peace and quiet to try to undo the knots that have accumulated throughout this day. They’re all hanging on me this this late hour and emotionally I love them but my actions speak another emotion.
Annoyance. Frustration. Irritation.
When it comes down to it it matters little to them if I make their favorite pumpkin-chocolate-chip muffins, or those stuffed peppers he’s been begging for. That’s nice of me. It makes them smile and their smiles make me feel good, but those are just actions.
Anyone can make them muffins. A restaurant could deliver the craved stuffed peppers.
If I just move through the motions of loving my family but don’t actually love them with the selfless love of Christ, it’s all meaningless.
In 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 Paul says,
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
I’ve read and re-read this scripture repeatedly–with each reading I stand convicted.
Our motives matter. Obedience out of obligation is worthless.
Obedience on the outside is easy compared to obedience of the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that God looks at our hearts. Christ commands us to love one another, not just for their benefit, but for our own as well (John 15:11). Paul says when we crash through life, gongs banging, we are nothing and we gain nothing. We make ourselves irrelevant by acting apart from love.
The Greek word Paul uses here for love is agape. This is not an emotional love. Agape is the love that went to the cross for us. Agape love says “I love you no matter what you do, whether you love me back or crucify me, I will love you”.
When I love selfishly, with my hand out waiting for my reward and acknowledgement, it’s worthless.
Galatians 5:22 names love as the first fruit of the spirit. 2nd Peter chapter 1, he says to add to our faith, (among other attributes) unselfish love. Peter goes on to say in verse 8, “for if these things are really yours and continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately.” To Paul’s point, when our motivation for our actions and behaviors is love, we are no longer clanging cymbals–ineffective, noisy nothings. Offering nothing, gaining nothing.
This term Paul uses for love is used roughly 228 times in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 13:13 names love as the greatest gift. Christ demonstrated what that love looks like, as He made His way to the cross and bore our sins.
We are called to love like Christ–to love unselfishly. In John 13:34 Christ says,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”.
Christians are to make Christ known to the world not by flaunting their spiritual gifts, but rather by demonstrating the sacrificial love of Christ that places others before self and willingly bends low to raise another up.
Apart from this we’re just noisy–just hollow clanging, banging emptiness with no purpose, with no effectiveness.
We make our way from yard to kitchen, kicking off shoes and lumbering a dusty-sweaty trail of half-pints upstairs to the tub, these words press hard at my heart and I catch myself before I open my mouth. I must love them, even when I am tired and aching for quiet. I must love them because that’s Christ in me. Learning to love as He loves is no simple task. A thousand opportunities present daily and love becomes a choice to be made.
If you aren’t yet, consider joining us for the Love Like Him bible study? You are welcome to jump in any time!
What did you learn from the passage this week? What is God showing you about the way you love?
Kris is just a girl who loves Jesus with her whole heart. She is a stay at home mom, MOPS Coordinator and an Advocate for Compassion International. Kris winds through her days, homeschooling 4 kids, and playing wife to her amazing husband.The floors are covered in crumbs and the washing machine never stops running (never!) but she counts each day as a gift! In her spare time (ha!) she writes, reads and plays with her camera.