Love is… – Part 1
A devotional from Pastor Ross Murphy
I remember being asked in a youth group many years ago “if you had the chance to ask God one question what would it be?” Two thousand years ago a man asked Jesus a great question (albeit for questionable motives)
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:Matthew 22:35-40
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
And the second is like it ‘love your neighbour as yourself’
All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’
Love is the most important commandment. Not in the sense that it overrules the Law and the Prophets (The Old Testament) but that all the teaching of the Old Testament comes under the banner of love for God and love for people. What does Jesus want of his people above all else? That we would learn to love God and others in his name.
But what is love? We will surely fail to live lives of love if we don’t take the time to consider its importance and its nature. How much does it matter, and what is it? Is love about what we do or what we feel? Is it a noun or a verb? A thing we can fall out of or a commitment we make?
To reduce love to one of these, would be to present a picture of something smaller than love as defined and described by Scripture. We are commanded to feel certain ways about God and what he has done for us:
How can we rejoice in the Lord without some measure of joy? Or grieve over our sins without some measure of sorrow? Our emotions are part of who we are and they ought to be engaged in loving God and others.
And yet emotions are fickle things. It is dangerous to put them in the driver’s seat. They are not reliable guides. Take the right actions for the right reasons and our emotions will soon follow on.
The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 reminds the Church in Corinth of the importance and the nature of love. They are an active, busy and gifted Church. And yet, they lack love. Paul says no matter what you have, or are, or do- without love it all amounts to nothing.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.1 Corinthians 13:1-3
He then goes on to describe the nature of love. It is this description we will turn our attention to in the next couple of weeks as we look at the remaining verses of 1 Corinthians 13 together.
The emphasis in this chapter, as we will see, is on action. We DECIDE whether we are going to be patient and kind. We decide whether we’re going to refuse to be rude and self-seeking. We CHOOSE not to get angry easily, to forgive and forget, to protect and trust and hope and persevere with those we love.
It’s a great challenge, but also a great goal, to learn to live lives of love. Here is a goal worth giving ourselves to, a goal that should drive us to our knees in prayer!
Father, as those so greatly loved in Christ Jesus, help us to learn to love you and to love others in his name.