HOUSMAIL Number HM#015 - LOVE IS ..... AND LOVE IS NOT 16 January 1999
I think Paul's famous chapter on love got an "airing" at almost every Church wedding I have ever attended. And, of course, if married people didn't persist in ignoring it, there would NEVER be a marriage problem which couldn't be resolved. (Especially in Church!)
However, THAT isn't the primary reason why it was written.
It was written to a Church at war within itself. It was written to define the difference between REAL gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the COUNTERFEIT which had invaded the Corinthian Church. It was written to set a standard for deciding whether God was present at all, in some of the weird things that were being foisted on the Church by some of their "Pentecostal" members.
The test Paul gave was simple, and effective. All we have to do, is learn how to measure whether REAL LOVE is present or not!
But beware! This is not intended as a "judgement tool" to use against others. Paul's test imposes a PRIMARY obligation ON US, to learn to experience this love for ourselves. Then, and ONLY THEN, will we properly understand the standard by which it is possible to decide whether or not God is the source of any "gift" others might claim to have.
I found all of this in 1Cor 13.
LOVE CANNOT RELIABLY BE MEASURED BY:
1. Speaking in tongues. (Especially in the Pentecostal church at Corinth!)
2. The ability to "prophesy". (Often long "clever" sermons, by CLOWNS,who "entertain" without touching conscience, or engaging the mind and heart and will!)
3. Understanding "mysteries". ("Mysteries" is a good description of many sermonsI have heard - and didn't understand!)
4. Bible "knowledge" . (The kind that comes with a big EGO, and a baseball bat topound it into the thick skulls of others!)
5. Faith. (Especially the sort that needs to "jump off the temple" in public all the time,or give regular "testimonies", to demonstrate its "superiority" to other "lesser mortals".)
6. Charitable gifts. (Especially the sort that has to invite the press along to photographthe "occasion"!)
7. MARTYRDOM. (Not even death in the "cause of Christ" is a proof of real love!)
LOVE ALWAYS IS:
1. Patient. (Especially with "slow learners".)
2. Kind. (Especially to the unkind)
3. Happy when right is done. (By whoever! Especially when TRUTHis preached and believed.)
4. Ready to bear with tests and trials. (Including those which comefrom "obnoxious" fellow Church members, who we think are less"spiritual" than ourselves.)
5. Ready to recognise and believe Truth. (And ready to reject LIES,or be challenged about why we do believe.)
6. Hopeful for the promises of God. (And maybe also for better thingsin others? Praying for that when they are not visible!)
7. Persistent to the end of trials, or tests, or persecution.
LOVE NEVER IS:
1. Jealous. (Including the good fortune, or spiritual "gifts", or Bible knowledge,or more successful ministries of others.)
2. Boastful. (Especially about ministry results, or "testimonies" which demonstrate"superior" intelligence, ability, importance, or spiritual prowess. "Big noting" itself,or "name dropping".)
3. Arrogant. (Riding rough shod over the meekness, or weakness of others.)
4. Rude. (Deliberately saying things to score points?)
5. Insistent on its own way. (Especially about our pet church projects, orquestionable interpretations of scripture.)
6. Irritable. (Quick to take offence, "touchy"! Especially in Church! But noneof us do that ..... do we? Hmmmmm !)
7. Resentful. (Love doesn't allow THAT feeling to develop at all, rejects it,doesn't hit back, or keep score against those who do "offend"! But noneof us do that either ..... do we? Hmmmmm again !)
8. Happy when others make fools of themselves. (That just might includepractical jokes in which people laugh themselves silly at the embarrassmentof others!)
That list above is paraphrased and rephrased from the RSV. It is probably not exactly how some of the rest of us might want to say it. I might even write it differently myself, tomorrow! But I didn't produce it to argue about whether I got it right! It is meant to be a starting point from which we can all begin to "examine ourselves whether we be in the faith". (2Cor 13:5)
May the Spirit of God lead and convict each of us individually, of our own personal needs to grow in love more and more, until we become REAL temples in which the Living God can dwell for ever and ever.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, THE ABSOLUTELY VITAL ISSUE
IS WHETHER OR NOT WE LOVE AS JESUS LOVES US!
By THIS TEST, honestly applied, we will know, and all men will know, whether we are disciples of the Risen Christ. (John 13:35)
All else, The Gospel, Repentance, Grace, Faith, Theology, Bible Study, etc. is merely the foundation on which we must begin to build, and continue to grow, in order reach this place in Christ.
It is NOT impossible! God is able to do FAR MORE than our wildest dreams envisage!(Ephesians 3:14-20)