On Sunday, Pastor Jeremy Johnson continued our series, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” and took us on a journey through 1 Corinthians 13, which shows us the never ending love we were born to receive and give out to one another.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 defines love this way:
“Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
If love consists of all these beautiful things, then why do we often see the opposite? Why have we experienced love insisting its own way and not believing, hoping, and enduring? Because it’s actually against our nature to love this way. We have been programmed since birth to live in a form of backwashed love – you love me, and then I’ll love you. Jesus had a different approach; He loved us first (1 John 4:19)! Jesus called us friends when we were enemies, and He loved us when we were at war with him. The only way for us to begin to love this way is if we tap into God’s love for us. When we begin to learn His nature and give our lives to Him, His nature becomes ours.
One of the greatest threats to experiencing God’s love and pouring it out onto others is the lie that God is mad at you. That could not be further from the truth. Jeremiah 31:3 tells us that He loves us with an everlasting love! It doesn't matter what we’ve done or what we will do; God’s love never expires. Everything He does is out of love. 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.” It says that those who do not love do not know God, so the best way to live out the definition of love presented in 1 Corinthians 13 is to spend time with God. Just as a hose needs to be plugged into power to release water, we need to be plugged into Him for love to pour out.
Often times we say, “I can’t love that person because…” And it’s true; we can’t love that person on our own. Love is conditional when we love in our own strength. Our love can only become unconditional when we spend time with unconditional love Himself. Why do relationships fall apart? Because people try to sustain relationships without God. Another reason why relationships fail is because people pursue the wrong kind of relationships just to get some form of connection. God has specific people in your life right now that you are called to love, and who are called to love you. Ask God to reveal those people to you. It’s time to take our hearts off the shelf and start pursuing relationships with one another again. It can be scary especially if you’ve been hurt in the past, but let His love become your shield and believe that you are worth this kind of love. A love that hopes, believes, and endures! God would not define love in such a beautiful way if He did not want us to experience it! Ask God to lavish you with His love because once that happens love will no longer come from a place of striving, but from a place of overflow!