Lisa Sheffler, author
In our new series, Neighbors and Nations, we are accepting Christ’s mission to reach the world with his truth and love, and we are starting by focusing close to home.
It’s a sad reality that the people who are closest to us are also the ones we are most likely to hurt. When we’re being selfish or feeling unhappy, frustrated, or angry, they are the ones who often bear the brunt. The Spirit empowers us to do better. Part of living out Christ’s mission means loving people, and we can all work to be more intentional in showing Christlike love to those in our immediate sphere — our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 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 do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love never fails.
Why, according to Paul, is love essential? What does love look like?
Any discussion of love should acknowledge its source. God is love and we love because he first loved us (1 John 4:8 & 4:19). Every description Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 13:1–8 is first and foremost a description of Jesus — the godman who loved perfectly. Take a breath, and read this slowly: God loves you with a faithful, unending, never-failing love. Jesus went to the cross so that you could be reconciled to the Father and sent you the Spirit to comfort and guide you. When we accept his love and allow it to fill us, more and more we will generously give love to others.
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul reminds us that love is not just an emotion, it must be lived out. Love is a passionate commitment to the well-being of another. Loving someone includes being patient, kind, caring and forgiving. We will be genuinely happy when they are happy and will help carry their burdens when they are in need. We have a unique opportunity in our closest relationships to grow in love and in our ability to love.
There is an old saying, “people don’t care what you know until they know you care.” That’s true even in our close relationships. A parent can be full of Bible knowledge, but if they don’t give love to their son or daughter in ways he or she can receive, it might not matter how many Bible stories and memory verses they teach. A Christian may want to share Christ with an atheist friend, but if they aren’t demonstrating Christ’s kindness, not a single argument for the existence of God will penetrate. It’s all just noise, like a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
When we love others, we are reflecting out into the world the love Jesus pours into us. In the same way that Jesus was a tangible presence of God’s love, his followers are called to be a faithful presence to those around them. This kind of love can manifest itself in the simplest of ways — from a kind act, to a friendly word, to a reassuring hug, to simply being there. If we want to help our friends and family find and follow Christ, we must show them love.
Offer up praise to God for the love he has poured out on you. How does experiencing his love allow you to love others and empower your call?
In trying to live out Paul’s description of love with family and friends, what areas do you struggle with the most? Ask the Spirit to show you how to love them more and more.
Mission Partner Spotlight
Sadly, not every home is a loving one. Some women and children endure abuse and need help finding safety and rebuilding their lives. Emily’s Place was founded “to break the cycle of violence for women and their children through long-term transformational care that seeks to restore faith, hope, and health.”
“Emily’s Place provides long-term housing that is critical for helping domestic violence survivors permanently escape abuse. It is the ‘bridge’ from a shelter, which typically allows women a safe place for 30 to 90 days, to independent living, free of the barriers preventing them from achieving self-sufficiency away from their abusers.”
This is a wonderful ministry that could use our support. Visit their website to find out more.