Friday, January 9, 2015

God Instead Of Hallmark

How many wedding cards showcase the words from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with beautiful flowing script (usually lavender) on a dreamy pastel background?

Of course it's a beautiful and romantic passage, especially when  an artist formats it in such a poetic manner. After  all, the Holy Spirit Himself inspired the apostle Paul to write those words to describe both how God loves us and how He desires Christians to love each other. Obviously He would, in His perfection, give us a description of love that resembled poetry. I wouldn't expect anything less of Him.

The words, however, go far beyond literary sentiment to pose a challenge so formidable that the Lord used them 44 years ago to confront me with my desperate need for salvation. As I read them, the Holy Spirit held up  a mirror that revealed my selfish inability to love anyone with godly love. Let me put those words in a plain font without the lilac clusters and rainbow background so that you can consider the high standard they represent.

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. ~~1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
The love this passage insists upon doesn't allow either the lover or the beloved to taint themselves with sin. It demands purity and self-denial on every possible level, calling us more to holiness than to romantic or sentimental emotions. God's love can't blur His commitment to  righteousness. Quite the opposite: His love commands us to live in obedience to His righteous standards, which we can do only if His Spirit controls us.

God's love won't conform to human  definitions or expectations, but instead places Christians under His expectations. Thankfully, His Holy Spirit graciously gives us His power to love, teaching us through the Scriptures how we can demonstrate His love in our daily lives. I praise Him for loving us with a love that embodies His holiness, grateful that love can really  be as beautiful and holy as He is.

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