Love is… – Part 2
..The life to which we’re called
Last week we were reminded of the importance of love. It is the most important command, all of the Law and the Prophets hang on this great appeal; to love God and to love others in his name. Love goes to the very heart not only of what we do, but of who we are as Christians. To come to faith in Christ is to be born again (John 3:3-6), it is to be made new (2 Cor 5:17). Our new identity demands that we live lives of love.
We are now adopted children of the God who is love. “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). We should bear a family resemblance to our heavenly Father.
We are followers of the Lord Jesus who laid down his life in love for us. The goal of the disciple is not just to learn information from the Teacher, it is to learn to become like the Teacher. Are we growing in Christlikeness? Are we growing in love?
The apostle Paul having described the importance of love in 1 Corinthians 13 describes the nature of love. The first thing he mentions is patience.
‘Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.’1 Corinthians 13:4-5a
The word Paul uses for ‘patient’ is makrothumei. This patience is not patience when waiting for lockdown to end, or to get to the front of a queue or while circling for a carparking space. This is patience with people. A more literal translation would be ‘longsuffering’ or ‘long-tempered’. This word describes the person who does not have a short-fuse. The person who doesn’t make you feel like you’re constantly walking on eggshells because they are always so irritable. There is a time for anger, but our God is the God who is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (Ps 145:8)
May we point to him in our patience with people. Even people who are, like us, less than perfect!
Patient and kind.
To be kind is to put the interests of other people above the interests of ourselves. To some kindness seems like a quaint, outdated concept for the weak and timid in this dog eat dog world. And yet kindness cuts to the heart of who we are in Christ. We serve the one who stooped to wash the feet of his followers (the most menial task reserved for the lowest servant of any household). But we can go further, we follow the sinless one who put our needs first when he surrendered his life to the cruel cross for us “so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Here is the supreme act of kindness. And we, in some small way, ought to reflect that kindness to the world around us.
In exercising patience and kindness we point to the one who has loved us, and calls us to love others in his name.
May we be found faithful.
Yours in His service