Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Test Of Love

In American, one of Satan's biggest advantages is we are easily fooled. American culture places heavy value on appearance. "Image is all that matters." Our vision is easily veiled and clouded, while we do not know it. This is proven by how many people attend church, thinking this will earn their salvation. This is proven by the children's curriculum that teaches the ABC's of becoming a Christian, along with encouraging children to simply pray a prayer that would magically invite Jesus into their hearts.

The Bible repeatedly says Christians should evaluate and test themselves regularly (2 Corin. 13:5). This can be done in many ways. One way I learned helped place love in a whole new light. It is found in 1 Corinthians 13. 

I'm sure you've read this passage before, right? It's one of the most well-known in the Bible, which is why it is so effective. I cannot recall the dozens upon dozens of times I have read or heard this passage. But it wasn't until Francis Chan used this passage to open my eyes that I saw it for what it truly is. You see, we have come to view this passage in a cloudy way; we don't see it as it was intended. Allow me to explain. The first thing you must do is read the passage: 

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.

Chances are you probably skimmed through most of this. But backtrack for a moment and ask yourself, What does this really mean? Often, this is our definition of love. It describes a selfless love that focuses on the other person(s). After reading this passage, the reader might think, If only this is how love worked in marriages today. Then the divorce rate would go down. Sorry, but that's the wrong idea here. Now, go back and read the passage again, but replace where love is referenced with your name. For example, "LoVizzle is patient, LoVizzle is kind..."

I do not know about you, but when I first did this, I felt dirty and rotten. I felt so wrong! I'm a child of God, but I'm impatient, unkind, envious of those richer, easily angered, I keep record of those who wrong me, etc. I realized I am not love! I think I am a loving, kind, friendly person, but after reading this, I am convinced that I am not. The more I think about it, the cliche "I'll scratch your back if you scratch my back" comes to mind. I really only care about the people who can in some way benefit me, whether it's through friendship, learning from them, or earning their respect, approval, or praise. I rarely do something knowing that I will get absolutely nothing in return.

"Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous." 

How counter-cultural is this! I can't think of one time where we invited someone over for dinner, not expecting to have them over again or go to their house eventually or benefit from them in some way. I act in one way; Jesus taught another. There is only one word for this: sin. While I am guilty and shamed of my disobedience, I pray that God will teach and mold me to become more like Him. After all, God is love.


Ashley said...

Oh my. Crazy Love was indeed very eye-opening. I did the same thing and couldn't help but to be totally broken. I think I am loving. But God has laid out a CRYSTAL CLEAR definition of love and I have blown it off completely. Thanks so much for this loving reminder and encouragement.

Shay said...

I have not read Crazy Love yet. But I am thinking that I might just have to pick it up!

Thanks for the reminder to recheck my motivations in what I do. This is what I needed to hear. Praise God for His love and the definition of love that He laid down for us!

Michael Seifert said...

This is an interesting article.... It can help you to be patient, kind, caring, etc. Thanks for posting!

LeaningOnHim said...

Very well-written, compelling piece on love.
Placing your name in the place of "love" is definitely an eye-opener. I don't think any human being can look at such a powerful verse, walking away with the thought "I am love."
I am always in awe when I reach the end of that verse: "Love never fails" (this is going off on a little bunny trail from what you were pointing out). 1 John 4:8 says, "...God is love." So it follows that when we're told "Love never fails" and "God is love", then God never fails. He is the only one that can truly love. We can place His name in that spot and say "God is patient, God is kind..." and always know that is the truth.

Great post!

In Christ,