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Have not Love?

by Terry L. Craig

© 2024

Have not Love.jpg

1 Corinthians 13:1-10
"If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not Love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not Love, I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not Love, it profiteth me nothing. Love suffereth long, and is kind; Love envieth not; Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away."

 

Christians know that the "love" here isn't referring to brotherly love, or romantic love, or desire, or sick enabling love, but the surpassing, sacrificial agape love of God. The problem arises when we begin to think of agape love as a majestic activity that will earn us something.

Have you ever read 1 Corinthians 13 and replaced the word "love" with "Jesus"? Reading the passage this way does no injustice to it, but rather clarifies our understanding of the One who IS Love. It brings into view the fact that we cannot just show love, we need to HAVE love, and to allow Love to have US.

I actually feel sorrow for Christians who live for the Law, who think God has His eye on an accounting ledger 24/7. How can such people ever fully feel or believe in the deep comfort of God's love when they never experience being fully seen, yet fully loved? Sure, some of them may feel a sense of self-righteousness (in the misplaced idea that they have somehow earned God's favor—for the moment), but this satisfaction isn't love, it's a sense of "better than." In their view, even if it's by "grace" they are saved, they still feel like they have to work night and day to maintain what was already paid for. It becomes a religion that makes people the worst of hypocrites—who must daily put whitewash over the death inside rather than admit it and allow God to show grace again.

Knowing/attempting to keep the Law doesn't perfect or save a single human being (Hebrews 7:19, 10:1, 10:4). Knowing the Law has never stopped humans from sinning, it's just the means of charging them with guilt.

Jesus fulfilled the entire requirement of the Law (and took the death penalty for our inability to keep it) because He loved us so much that He willingly took our place. We should see Love as both the motive and the Motivator. Jesus says that when we love God with all that we are, and love our neighbor as ourselves we "fulfill" the whole law—because when we are abiding in Him and He in us we are made perfect in Love—and fear is no longer a factor.

When we have Love and Love has us, it's no longer a matter of the Law, it's a matter of living for the Beloved—of abiding where He lives and reigns. What crazy stupid things have people done for romantic love? What dangers have people endured for brotherly love? Well, the love of God draws us even deeper than that.

"He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." 1 John 4:8

 

"And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." 1 John 4:16

 

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." 1 John 4:18

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