Friday, February 11, 2011 at 8:31pm
Paul tells us emphatically with beautiful language that “if [we] have no love, [we] are none the better.” Other translations render Paul’s statement as “[we] are nothing” if we “do not have love.”
We may have the ability to “speak human or angelic languages;” we may have “the gift of prophecy;” we may “understand all mysteries and all knowledge;” we may “have all faith so that [we] can move mountains;” but without love, none of these abilities are worth much. We are nothing and we gain nothing when we act without love.
Paul even speaks of charity as empty if it is done without love.
“Love is patient; love is kind and envies no one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith, its hope, and its endurance.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NEB)
How many of us can say that we “keep no score of wrongs?” How many of us can say we are “never boastful, nor conceited?” How many of us are slow “to take offence?” How many of us are capable of facing anything with no limit to faith, hope, endurance? If this were so, no one would divorce; no one would strike a child in anger; no one would lie to get ahead or hide a wrongdoing to keep from appearing less capable. No one would do good in order to appear good.
“Love will never come to an end.” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
“For You, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive, rich in faithful love to all who call on You,” sings David. David knows God’s forgiving nature firsthand, having committed both adultery and murder. What if, after having asked for and accepted God’s forgiveness, David had continued to feel and express the guilt associated with those horrendous actions? What if, every night before sleep, David had reminded himself and God of these evil deeds, throwing them — so to speak — in God’s face?
When you ask for God’s forgiveness, accept it completely. Know that God forgives in totality. There’s no corner room where He stores your sins. “‘Come, let us discuss this’, says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are as red as crimson, they will be like wool.'” (Isaiah 1:18)
God says, “It is I who sweep away your transgressions for My own sake and remember your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43:25)
Therefore, forget your sins. Do not insult God’s grace.
Paul commands you to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2: 12 – 13)
God works in you because His Holy Spirit dwells within you as within a temple. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Because your body is God’s dwelling place, how can you unite yourself with those who hate God? You can’t. For what you love, that person despises.
Paul says not to be yoked with unbelievers for it is an uneven bonding. “Don’t you know,” says Paul, “that your body is a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you are bought at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6: 19 – 20)
Seek someone within the body of Christ to join with you, knowing that God is your primary focus, that He strengthens your relationship and literally makes it holy.
Yoked with a believer, you know that both of you have God at work within “to desire and to work out His good purpose” for your lives. You both must continue to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” lest you fall away from one another, fall into lust for another, and dishonorably into unfaithfulness and adultery.
But thanks be to God, you are not one to fall away. You are the Lord’s and His power is at work within you. Rely upon Him; He takes you to the prize — a holy relationship with another Christian.