As usual upon entering a new year I take a moment to reflect and evaluate the previous year. 2011 proved to be one of the most testing years concerning my personal walk. Through all the storms and setbacks however I learnt many lessons, one of the most precious being the value of love.
1 John 4:20-21
20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.
Love for God must be coupled with selfless love for other people. However as with most of the scriptures, it is easier said than done.
Recently I revisited a sermon by Shai Linne on ‘Fulfilling the Law through Love’ he walks through 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 emphasising on how every possible ‘spiritual gifting’ is invalid without love. Without love we are ‘clanging cymbals’. Without love we are ‘nothing’.
On the topic of marriage, Paul Washer said
‘How can you learn unconditional love if you marry someone who meets all your conditions?’
This is true also outside of marriage. ‘Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things’.
Love is what separates Christianity from every other religious belief system because it was love that caused Christ to be the ultimate sacrifice so we can be reconciled with the Father.
Now when we consider love, we tend to also include external factors, yet the power behind love rests in that fact that it knows no conditions. Throughout the past year I believe my desire to love has really been tested, especially when I have been offended. A major barrier to me displaying love has been pride; it creeps up in the most subtle forms.
‘It [pride] causes us to overvalue ourselves and feel like we aren’t being honoured according to our worth’ – http://amannyforyourthoughts.wordpress.com/2011/10/19/pride/
Many times I’ve felt like I’m being taken for one German Shepherd, and all thoughts of relating to people with the love that Christ has worked within me gets thrown out of the window. A song by Deon Kipping (Not Like Us) causes me to wonder what my life would be like if God was like me.
If God responded to me, how I treat some friends or family.
If God reacted to an offense the same way I do.
If God judged people according to their past failures.
If God never dealt with my short-comings with patience and grace.
Truthfully if God was like us, not just concerning love, we’d have no hope because He would’ve seen no purpose for Jesus to die for people who don’t deserve it.
I haven’t made any ‘resolutions’ for 2012, but one of my main desires is to truly love people according to scripture. Unconditionally.
Sermon by Shai Linne