Author: Rev. Russell Smith, Madeira-Silverwood
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
For the first six weeks of this series, we talked about love in terms of how we love other people. Last week, we shifted the focus to growing in how we love God.
We come now to: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
I’ve always been impressed by the way the NIV translation renders this verse: “[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
The more I’ve thought about this verse, the more I believe that the only way I can make sense of it is if the love we’re talking about here is the love that God has for us.
“Always” is a tough little word. It brings me to the point where my capacity to love fails. I’m too frail, too inconsistent, too limited by time and mortality, and too selfish. I can use high minded language and say “I’ll always be there for you,” but I know that what I really mean is “I’ll do the best I can.”
The word “always” brings me right to the point where I need God’s power in my life. My attempts at “always” are bumbling and imperfect – but God is loving always and forever. Psalm 46 begins with “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Psalm 107 says “… from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him….” We all need the security that comes from the unshakeable love of God.
Jesus is the perfect expression of this “always” love of God. In his letter to the church at Colossae, Paul says: “[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
For the past eight weeks, we’ve been looking closely at I Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul carries on from these verses to begin verse 8 by saying “Love never fails.” This can only mean the love of God extended to us through Jesus Christ.
To truly learn to love others, we must rest in Christ’s boundless love for us.
Several years ago, I had the immense privilege to visit Jerusalem. In the old city of Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has stood for centuries, marking the spot where Jesus was crucified. There is a chapel built above the stone of Christ’s execution, and visitors can kneel down and place their hand through the floor to touch the stone.
I had come to the chapel with many things on my mind. I experienced many emotions about not accomplishing what I had wanted to accomplish in my work. And I wasn’t really clear about about what I was supposed to be feeling in this large ornate church.
When I knelt to place my hand upon the stone, I didn’t expect much. But then, I felt these words: “It is enough.” I can only describe it as a voice without a voice. It was a sensation in my mind that I can only ascribe to the presence of God.
The words “It is enough” resonated through me on so many levels. What I had experienced on this trip was enough, i could simply be grateful. What I had accomplished in my work was enough, I was not a failure. And there, with my hand on the spot where Jesus gave his life for the salvation of the world, “It is enough” reminded me that God’s grace is sufficient for everything. God’s “always” is enough to satisfy.
I don’t have any exercises or practices for you this week. I simply want to leave you with this encouragement that Christ’s grace is always sufficient to meet your every need. Christ’s love is always upon you. I hope you’ve experienced His love as we’ve journeyed along together. May His love fill you with joy, both now …. and always.