In our walk with Christ, we are to gain knowledge and understanding. But we are also called to change our nature through love. It's is the only way people get on together without friction. Rules hold people back from conflict for a time, but not without resentment or inner conflict. On the other hand, a changed heart overlooks the pettiness often used in arguments and other clashes.
God will ensure the Kingdom of Heaven will be frictionless whether you and I make it there or not.
When we look closely at 1 Corinthians 13, the Agape love (Charity) chapter, we see how necessary Godly love is to the Kingdom of God. Verses 2 & 3 show its significance. We can be adorned with every other attainment and generous to a fault. Still, we are nothing, and all our works profit us nothing without this unique type of love. The broadness of love never ceases to amaze. Its length and breadth and height permeate every part of our lives. Firstly, there are various kinds of love.
The desire within a marriage — Isaac and Rebekah in his mother's tent. (Gen 24:67)
Desire outside a marriage. Shechem's supposed 'love' for Dinah (Gen 34:3)
Husband and Wife for each other
Parents love for children.
Abraham's special love for his true son Isaac
Ruth for her mother-in-law Naomi
David and Jonathon mateship
Agape: Divine love
But love has perspectives. Some find it hard to love based upon their life experiences. Love can be easily misshaped due to trauma or broken trust. Despite these often devastating difficulties, the Lord still calls us to love. As we accept the love of God, our pain and wounds heal, our hurting hearts are soothed and repaired, and God fills us with the same love He has. Yet, there is a cost to love.
Love is blind.
Isaac seemed to overlook his son Esau's worldliness. Gen 27:4. The cost? Isaac was prepared to give the kingdom away to the wrong person due to his Love for Esau and his venison.
Jacob falls for Rachel. Gen 29:20. It cost him seven years of free work, plus a further seven years due to the Leah swindle.
Love is brutal
Deformed Leah spent a life in a state of marital rejection due to the desperation of her fatiher and herself. Gen 29:32.
Love also has benefits.
A permanent job, family and lodging. Exodus 21:5. We cease our whinging to appreciate the advantages of the workplace.
Love for our neighbour. Leviticus 19:18. We discard our pride to overcome neighbourly issues.
Love for strangers that abide in our country. Leviticus 19:34. We drop our biases to show love to newcomers.
God's special love for His followers. Exodus 20:6. We can have this love if we choose.
When God made human beings, He added an incredible emotion attached to love.
An elderly person falls over? We feel compassion and run to help.
Funeral of a friend? We shed tears and feel sorrow.
News of landslide overseas? We feel the horror.
Visit injured in the hospital? We feel tenderness and commiseration.
Why do these emotions occur? Why do we experience this divine sympathy? It's a glorious attribute placed in us by the Lord, and is part of our DNA.
One of our local girls saw a dog running loose on the road, soon to be run over. She wrongly stopped her car in the middle of Melton Hwy to chase the dog. So strong was her love for the stray, in her misguided efforts, she got hit by a car herself. She died right there on the road. After the funeral, her fiancé hammered a small white cross into the nature strip next to where she died. Nobody removed it for years. Even the council mowed around it, such was the love and respect for her.
Divine love challenges many of our typical mannerisms.
Luke 23:34 tells us that love forgives. Which is seen in Jesus' death? "Father, forgive them."
Matt 18:15-17 Stops us from gossiping about others.
Prov 19:11 Shows us how to overlook offences.
James 5:19-20 instructs us to confront sin and wrongdoings — BUT in the attitude of love. We love the person, but not their sinful behaviour.
This type of love only comes from God, and He passes it onto us.
When love is finished its perfect work, we become patient; we become kind. We lose our need for envy and boasting (We are becoming content). We begin to realise pride works against our Godly nature. We find we don't need to dishonour others through our talk. We are not self-seeking nor easily angered. We keep no record of wrongs, past offences or hurts, remembering that God forgets ours upon repentance. We don't delight in evil paybacks but rejoice in the truth. We protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere.
The Submarine. Before God comes into our lives, we're like a submarine. We have limited sight and understanding of the big picture. We raise the telescope and see an entirely different worldview. We see all around us and realise our views were small and self-centred. Now we see as God sees, our vision broadens, and our spirits become tempered on the anvil of love, our selfishness is hammered out.
But why does love need to change our nature? We are preparing for the Marriage of the Lamb, Jesus Christ marrying His bride, the Church.(Revelation 19:6-9). Because of that celestial celebration, our nature must reflect the nature of Jesus. In a marriage, "two shall be one." All our desires must be the same.
In that thinking, I have placed an interesting twist on the story in Matthew 25:8-10 of the TEN VIRGINS. They all needed a change of nature, as love is more than an emotion. The five foolish virgins didn't concern themselves with changing their nature. They thought they were okay as they were. But then, the time of separation arose. They said to the other five virgins, "Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out."
Marriage is a cooperative institution, and the oil is the Holy Spirit zeal within us. The foolish virgins didn't allow the Holy Spirit to change much at all. The wise, who did change their nature, said, "No. You go and do what you were meant to do." "And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut."
Today's prayer: Dear Lord, your Love, like a diamond, has so many facets, each of which is as important as the others. Please help me to change my nature to reflect the glorious nature of Jesus Christ. I see the importance of it and ask your help to overcome my many obstacles.
Photo by Nick Fewings