Category Archives: Love Is Series

Love Never Fails

Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:8

What better way to wrap up this short series on love than with God’s unending, unwavering love? His love truly never ends. He loved us enough to allow Noah and his family to endure the flood. He loved Israel enough to not remove them from the planet. He loved you and me enough to send His Son to die; the pay the penalty of sin, so that we could spend eternity with Him. That’s love.

We all know people (marriages in particular)who have endured through all of the trials that life could send their way. We also know people who have crumbled at the first sign of trouble. We all know what the difference is. Love.

Love never fails.

Lover never fails because Jesus’ love never fails. And we should want to love as He did/does. Remember Peter stating that he would never deny his Lord? He did. Three times. But, through it all and in spite of it, Jesus kept loving Peter – just as He continues to love you, no matter what.

People may choose to give up and walk away, but that choice is not yours. The Kendrick brothers write “If love can be told to quit loving, then it’s not really love. Love that is from God is unending, unstoppable. If the object of its affection doesn’t choose to receive it, love keeps giving anyway…But if your marriage fails, if your spouse walks away, let it not be because you gave up or stopped loving them.” (p. 191-192) Love never fails.

In his Word God defines love as an action. In the great “love chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, love is defined as something that is done, rather than a feeling. “Love is [being] patient, love is [being] kind, …”

Actually, the entire Bible revolves around one great act of love. God extended his love toward us all. Jesus described it this way: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

Jesus’ love is defined in what he did. His valentine to us came not in the form of a card, but a cross. He literally gave us his heart. And the loving relationship he promises those who trust in him is truly undying. Love never fails.

Love never fails. Because the first evidence of the fruit of the Spirit is love and the Holy Spirit is unchanging, just as God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Since the Holy Spirit is unchanging, then the demonstration of love is unchanging. “It is based on the will of God, the calling of God, and the Word of God – all unchanging things.” (p. 192) If the Holy Spirit, then your love is supernatural and will never change. Because love never fails.

Love never fails. Because it is built on the Word of God – which will last forever. “Each quality of love outlined in [The Love Dare] is based on the love of God, captured and expressed in the Word of God. The unchanging Word of God. No challenge or circumstance can occur that will ever put an expiration date on Him or His love. Therefore, your love – made of that same substance – bears the same unchanging characteristics.” (p. 193) Because His love never fails.

It’s time to go deeper. It’s time to examine your own personal thoughts in order to express them into words. No one is perfect, and it’s time to declare that, even though those imperfections exist, your love is even greater. No matter what they’ve done, your choice is to endure in love. No matter if you’ve been inconsistent (or conditional) in your love, those days are over. Declare that your love will never fail.

“Your Love Never Fails” by Chris Quilala of Jesus Culture comes to mind – you can find the lyrics here. Check out the video. Great lyrics.

Scripture to encourage you in truth today:

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

We have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22, 25

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love…Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love each other, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us. 1 John 4:7-8, 11-12

God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 1 John 4:16b

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away. Luke 21:3

Today’s Challenge: Learn to love as God does. Pray for Him to love through you.

Work cited:

Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)

Love Always Hopes; Always Perseveres

Love believes all things, hopes all things. 1 Corinthians 13:7

Love always hopes; always perseveres.

Love always hopes because love sees possibilities where none seems to exist. Love always hopes because love never despairs. Love is not dependent on the fulfillment of immediate expectations. Love takes the long term point of view. Love will not give up on others. Love does not give up on God’s purposes. Love keeps us hopeful, in all situations, against all evidence, because hope is stored up for us in heaven (Colossians 1:5).

Webster’s dictionary defines hope as a desire accompanied by expectation of or believe in fulfillment…to desire with expectation of obtainment…to expect with confidence.

How can love always hope when the situation seems hopeless? How can you continue to love when your son or daughter rejects your faith and all the values you taught them to respect? How can you continue to love God when an incurable disease is destroying your loved one? How can we continue to love when prospects in this life seem hopeless?

The answer is that love’s source is in God. Love’s hope is not just wishful thinking. Love’s hope is not just unrealistic expectations. Love’s hope finds its confidence in God’s eternal plan which is beyond human understanding.

In hoping, love always perseveres and never looks back. Love never stops, never quits, never doubts, and never goes against the good. Love perseveres because Christ perseveres, because God perseveres, and because the Holy Spirit enables us to persevere.

Relationships are never a walk in the park every single day. No matter how much you love someone and they love you, there will be moments of disappointment, struggle, discontentment, and resentment. The simple reason for that is that relationships consist of human beings and human beings are not perfect. We all hurt those we love and they hurt us, whether it’s intentional or unintentional.

No one was more betrayed and hurt by those He loved than Jesus. The very fact that He had to suffer the pain of the cross was due to the fact that those He created turned against Him and sinned. God had to sacrifice His own Son because His creation failed to love Him as He so loved them. But despite our rejection of God, He did make that sacrifice, paying the ultimate price to reconcile with us, His fallen creatures. Love won out because our Father was willing to do what had to be done to restore our relationship with Him.

When you pray for others, do you pray with perseverance? Do you pray with the hope that they’ll see the Father come through for them? Do you pray with the hope that you’ve asked according to God’s will? When someone’s heading down the wrong path, do you have hope for them that they can be redeemed? Do you find hope in the fact that everything is working toward the purposes of God?

Love always perseveres in order to avoid the dishonor of letting someone else down who is depending on us, who believes in us, for whom we are the hands and heart of Christ. Love does not walk away from commitments when it would be easy and reasonable to do so. Love endures to the end. The world has a lot of starters but very few finishers. Love finishes the race. Love does not give up. Love does not quit. Love perseveres in the battle against evil because it wants to win the victory.

When Jesus, who is love, came to earth to bridge the gap between us and God, He brought us hope. In Him we can rest assured that all things are being held together and sustained by our Creator, who loves us and calls us according to His purposes. Love doesn’t look at this world all around in despair. Love hopes in all things.

Scripture to encourage you in your walk today:

As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. 2 Thessalonians 3:13

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope. Romans 5:3-4

Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. James 5:11

Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off. Proverbs 24:14

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

…Being justified by His grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

Today’s Challenge: Pray for perseverance in trials and that the Spirit will continue to feed your hope in the things to come.

Love Always Protects; Always Trusts

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:6, 7

Love always protects.

The verb means to cover, to pass over in silence, to keep confidential. When we want to stop discussion of something we may say that we want to “put a lid on it.” Love throws a cloak of silence over what is displeasing in another person. Love finds a way to shelter the wrongdoer from exposure and condemnation.

The word for ‘making atonement’ in Hebrew means to cover. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross was the fulfillment of the purpose of the Day of Atonement celebrated each year in the Temple, when the sins of the people were covered by the blood of the offering in the Holy of Holies. Jesus was both the High Priest and the Sacrifice to take away our sins by covering them, ‘making atonement,’ and protecting us from condemnation. What God in Christ has done for us is meant to instruct us to do for others.

This is how we should treat one another. By extending to others our protection, our generosity, our forgiveness, we can enjoy it ourselves. Forgive as we have been forgiven. Loving one another in this way shows that we have the root of the matter in us – we have assimilated the nature of grace. We love one another deeply by not exposing the frailties of others. We are willing to make allowances, to overlook minor infractions. We are reluctant to drag faults of others into the light of day.

Nowhere is this more illustrated than in the incident of the woman taken in the act of adultery (John 8:1-11). Jesus knelt down and wrote with his finger in the ground. He who knew everything, knew also what the scribes and Pharisees knew, before they told him. They soon discovered her guilt, once her sin had been exposed. They also discovered a new sin, one which they were guilty of, by trying to ensnare Jesus with their question.

But Jesus ignored them and wrote with His finger on the ground. Why did he avert his gaze? Why did he write with his finger on the ground? Did he sit there like a judge who listens attentively to the story of the accusers, who, listening, bows down and jots down the principal points so that he may not forget them, and judge strictly? Was the woman’s guilt the only thing which was noted by the Lord? Or did he write with his finger in the dust in order to erase it and forget it?

There stood the sinner, surrounded by those even more guilty, who loudly accused her, but love bowed down and did not hear the accusation, which passed over his head into the air. He wrote with his finger in order to blot out what he knew: sin discovers a multitude of sins, but love covers a multitude of sins. People who look for sin are sure to find it. Love does not look for sin.

Jesus tells them to look into their own hearts: “If anyone of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Was he writing their sins on the ground and then erasing them? When they have all left leaving only the woman standing there with Jesus he asks, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” Her sin was covered. He would make atonement for it. But she had to change her behavior.

Love always protects by silence, by not gossiping about our neighbor’s faults, for in the retelling of them the truth is often embroidered until they bear little resemblance to reality. Love always protects through mitigating explanations.

Every event, every word, every act, everything, can be explained in numerous ways. The lover will choose the most mitigating explanation. We are not called to be judges or detectives seeking to uncover guilt. How many lives have been ruined by drawing the wrong conclusions about events, and making the wrong interpretation of an action.

Love always protects. God throws his covering over us in the atonement of Jesus on the Cross. “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Jesus Christ the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1,2)

Love also trusts; at all times.

All relationships are built on trust. Without it, how can you possibly hope to interact with them on any level without constant fear that they’ll lie to you or betray you? But love, to give this passage another interpretation, gives the benefit of the doubt.

We’ve all been through times in life when someone has done something to earn our distrust. We can forgive, but we won’t soon forget, and it may take a while for them to regain our full trust. There’s nothing wrong with this, but the forgiving part is very essential. And it’s never ok to distrust someone based on someone else’s actions. It’s not your wife’s fault that your ex-girlfriend hurt you. It’s not your boss’s fault that your last employer fired you unjustly. Give the benefit of the doubt.

There are those who don’t deserve our trust, but they still need our love. We should do all we can to show them that they are indeed loved despite their inability to be believed. There’s no formula for this, it’s going to be different in every case. Praying for the Holy Spirit to work through us in the relationship is one step in the right direction.

Believe the best in those you love. Don’t easily jump to conclusions, assuming the worst. Give the benefit of the doubt and show trust, until such a time as that trust is betrayed, and even then work toward repairing that element of the relationship. Follow the example of Jesus, who even though He knew the hearts of all men, gave all a chance.

Scripture to encourage you in truth today:

But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what itme of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. Matthew 24:43

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down. Proverbs 14:1

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes, fear the Lord and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs. Proverbs 10:12

Love covers a multitude of sins.  1 Peter 4:8

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Psalm 32:1

Today’s Challenge: Don’t air out the transgressions of your friends. Protect them from others. And forgive so you can trust again.

Love Rejoices With the Truth

Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6

Love rejoices with the truth. What is the truth? In our day, truth is a relative term; it may mean one thing to me and another thing to another person. This is the “I’m OK; you’re OK” generation. To understand truth we must go to the Word of God.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
John 14:6

Truth is not a relative term; it is an absolute! The basis of truth is God; God is truth! When we begin to understand that all truth comes from God, we begin to understand how love rejoices with the truth.

It really does not matter how we feel about any topic; it doesn’t even matter if we believe in God! Truth does not change; it does not depend upon us. If not one man ever believed in Christ, the truth of God still would not change.

No truly loving relationship is ever established upon a lie; and no loving relationship can grow or mature unless it is based upon truth. Am I saying that all Christian marriages will succeed and all non-Christian marriages will fail? Absolutely not. What I am saying, however, is that all marriages will grow and strengthen when they are established upon truth.

When are you most proud of your spouse/son/daughter/friend? Is it when they have won a well-earned award for some important accomplishment? Or is it when they take the opportunity to pray with you – no matter where they are – or when they help you think through how to handle a tough situation in a Christ-like manner?

The Kendrick brothers write “Love rejoices most in the things that please God. When your mate is growing in Christian character, persevering in faith, seeking purity, and embracing roles of giving and service – becoming spiritually responsible in your home – the Bible says we should be celebrating it.” (p. 167) Are you doing that?

It is the things of God, not the things of earth, which should grab our attention and hold it, so that the demonstrations of the fruit of the Spirit would be evident in our lives.

There is no better way to encourage a fellow brother or sister in Christ than to tell them how you see Christ in their actions. The kindness you show those around you, especially in the midst of trial (on your part), is a beautiful demonstration of how Christians are to care for one another. The fruit of living a Christian life, filled with the Holy Spirit, is evident in so many ways in the walk of one who is clinging to their faith. If we can encourage friends in their Christ-likeness, how much better when we see righteousness displayed in our spouses, family members and friends. That’s the time to let them know how grateful you are for their spiritual investment in your life. And keeping Christ in the equation gives God the glory rather than the person living it out.

Scripture to encourage you in truth:

Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I am full of joy over you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. Romans 16:19

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 4

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 1 Timothy 4:18

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:7

Today’s challenge: Think of one example of how someone in your life demonstrated Christian character and thank them for it, encouraging them to persevere in it.

Love Does Not Delight in Evil

Abstain from all appearance of evil. 1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV

Love does not delight in evil.

Evil takes on many forms. It can be seductive and alluring. It can present itself as entertaining and harmless. It can make us feel good for a moment. In the end though, evil in any form is destructive.

The devil is constantly at work all around us; purposing to drive a wedge between us and God. That is evil.

Humans are twisted creatures. We wish harm to come to others. We participate in inflicting damage upon them. We enjoy knowing someone has reaped the consequences of their actions. These tend to be people who have wronged us in some way. This too, is evil, and yet, we’re all guilty of it.

Put yourself in this scenario.  Think about a time that someone reaped a consequence of their own actions and you delighted in knowing that they got what was coming to them.  You can admit to doing it, all of us have at some point.  You, whether you knew it or not, were condoning the wrongdoing because you praised the results.  That’s not love.

Love, instead, would mourn that the person had made an unwise choice and saw things play out badly.  Love would seek to bring the person to righteousness through truth.  Then, when truth spoke into that person’s life, someone who loves them would be glad for them.  Jonah didn’t get this one right.  When he preached to the people of Ninevah, they repented and turned to God (Jonah 3:10-4:1).  If he loved them, Jonah would have praised the Lord that these people had been saved from destruction.  But instead he grumbled because he didn’t want the Ninevites to avoid God’s wrath.  He would have rather they fall because of all their past sins.  He didn’t know how to delight in truth.

The statement in 1 Corinthians 13 is full of meaning. Here are few of my thoughts as I read and re-read that statement (Love does not delight in evil):

  • In love, we do not rejoice when we witness evil.
  • In love, we do not find pleasure in seeing someone else come to harm.
  • In love, we do not relish in knowing that someone is hell bound.
  • In love, we do not desire wrong (actions, things, thoughts, etc.).
  • In love, we do not eagerly partake in harmful behavior.
  • In love, there is no delight in destruction.

Let me get one thing straight. Harm and destruction do happen, but love does not delight in it. Some will embrace evil and suffer its consequences, but love mourns their loss.

When we say love does not delight in evil, we mean that a loving person does not focus his/her attention on the wrongs others have committed against them. Love recognizes that only God knows the hearts of people. It does not hastily assume sinister intents lie behind another’s actions.

We are also called to be discerning. If we have strong evidence of evil, we must act accordingly. Even as we do this, we must be careful to be as impartial as possible in our evaluations of others.

Otherwise, we run the risk of rejoicing in wrongdoing, something Christian love would never do. When we quickly assume ill of others, we invite the temptation to gossip and slander. The human heart loves to hear salacious stories. In doing so, we end up rejoicing in evil – not truth.

I can’t help but think of the words Jesus said during His journey to the cross in Luke 23. Battered and beaten, abused and ridiculed, rejected and crucified…Jesus held on to love. He did not delight in the evil which they had embraced. He found no joy in knowing they did not know Him. He was not pleased to know they were bound for hell. He was filled with sorrow for the very same people who had placed Him on that cross. He mourned their ignorance of God’s love. He cried out for their forgiveness. He did that for you; He did that for me.

Thinking of that brings David Crowder’s renditions of How He Loves to mind. Enjoy the video – lyrics:

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions
Eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me

And oh, how He loves us, oh
Oh, how He loves us, how He loves us all

We are His portion; He is our prize
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking

And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
When I think about the way…

What wondrous love! God’s love!

Just as He loves, we are called to love.

Scripture for encouragement today:

Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices. Colossians 3:9

But now you also, put them aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Colossians 3:8

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

Today’s Challenge:  Remove anything that is “evil” from your relationships. Stop tallying up the wrongs people have committed against you. Forgive and let God love them through you.

Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs

What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ. 2 Corinthians 2:10

Forgive.

One of the toughest things we are required to do if we are to live a life of love.

Has someone hurt you? Have you been wronged? Have you done the best you know to do and it is still not enough? If you are human and walking among other people in this world, then I’m fairly certain I can hear a resounding “yes” to each of those questions.

As Christians, we know we will encounter people who dislike us, who hate us, who will insult us if we are truly living a life for the glory of God. And I personally pray that that’s true of me. We’ll be launching our church soon and if we don’t get doors slammed in our faces, I would be surprised and ashamed. Persecution shouldn’t catch us off guard. Jesus said it would happen.

What about when a fellow Christian treats you wrongly? It happens. It’s hardest when we endure rebuke, rebuffs, and anger from our brothers and sisters or blood relatives (no matter how close you are to them).

Grudges can divide families and friends. Many things can foster resentment in relationships. But love can prevent and heal resentment. Nowhere is truth better expounded than in the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

Love covers a multitude of sins. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love holds no grudge and is not resentful. Just look at the differences between the father and the oldest son in this story. The father focused on the relationship, not his youngest son’s foolishness. His brother, on the other hand, kept a grudge.

I recently went home for a weekend, just to recharge my batteries (the pace of city life can drain a person) when a moment piqued where my entire family seemed to be at odds with each other…the whole five against two scenario. Conflict came from not picking up the phone and making that call instead of sending an email or text. Conflict came in digging up past grievances. From harbored anger. From unforgiven contention-sometimes years/decades old.

Sometimes we come with the best of intentions. We vow to accept irritating behavior; to keep the peace no matter what. Them something happens and it dredges up the previous hurt.

When we are confronted with our own shortcomings, we naturally defend ourselves by dredging up past offenses by those accusing us. We’re guilty of keeping a record of wrongs so that we can produce them when needed. We have to feel more virtuous than others so that we can maintain our self-esteem and avoid being put at disadvantage. So we play a game of tit-for-tat, exchanging accusations until we exhaust the goodwill we have for one another. We keep score because it makes us feel superior to the person/people we resent.

It’s time to let go. It’s time to ask God for the grace to forgive.

In The Love Dare, the Kendrick brothers write, “Forgiveness has to happen, or a successful [relationship] won’t.” (p. 121) Good relationships are not ones in which there is never any hurt, never any disappointment, never any betrayal, never any mistakes…but, those that follow 1 Corinthians 13:5 “keep no record of wrongs.”

How important is forgiveness? According to the Kendrick brothers, “When you forgive another person, you’re not turning them loose. You’re just turning them over to God, who can be counted on to deal with them His way…It’s about freedom.” (p. 123) It’s also about peace. Carrying around a burden of unforgiveness is dangerous. It causes distractions and guilt. Misunderstanding. We each much focus on being in the posture of grace, thinking the best of one another….whether we are married or not.

I’m not. But I’ve chosen now to live in a way that not only honors my friends or the possibility of a husband one day, but God.

We pray for God’s forgiveness by praying the Lord’s Prayer, recorded in Matthew 6: Forgive us our debts and we forgive our debtors (or transgressors, those who have sinned against us, etc). That’s a dangerous request.

Think about it.

When I pray that prayer, I’m requesting that God forgive me just as I forgave my best friend for stabbing me in the back. I have to stop and ask myself, Have I truly forgiven her? Or am I harboring this grudge in my heart…this poison?

Jesus settled this when Peter asked Him how far forgiveness should extend in Luke 17. Peter thought that there should be a sin debt limit. But Jesus says Peter’s approach of limited forgiveness falls short – we have been forgiven so much, so we should give exorbitantly.

Personally, I’m glad God doesn’t keep a record of wrongs. If He did, we all would have been wiped from the planet along with the flood…along with the golden calf…along with wandering forty years in the desert…you get the picture.

Forgiveness is worth it and we can attain it by surrendering the arguing, the winning and losing, the rehearsing of a wrongdoing, the scripting of grievances – and let God do what He promises in Romans 12:19: ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. This does not mean that things don’t get addressed that need to be addressed. “It just clears you of having to worry about how to punish them.” (p. 123, The Love Dare) This is not a simple issue. It takes dedication and work on our part to let go and let God.

I had written a while ago on a resolution to forgive. Some may find it hard to forgive if they haven’t forgiven themselves, but know that Scripture doesn’t say that we need to. Jesus has already done that for us and we best remember and focus on that. We must center on the mercy God has shown us. He does not count your past against you. You’ve been forgiven all unrighteousness. So have I. 1 John 1:9-10.

It’s time to love.

Love lets the past die. Love does not seek for justice even though it is in the right. Love wants to wipe the slate clean and start all over again. Love wants a new beginning.

Salvation in Christ results in the healing of painful memories. It is learning to forget what other people did to us and those we love. The power to forget is the power of the Cross. Jesus said, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Love is the power to forgive, to tear up the scorecard, to be reconciled, to leave the final accounting to the judgment and mercy of God. God settled accounts with us on the Cross. Let us leave our wrongs, our resentments, our grudges at the foot of the Cross of Christ. The love of God in Christ conquers all. The Gospel is God’s answer to the ills of the world.

Who in your life deserves the opportunity to earn your trust back and have you wiped away the record of their wrongdoings that you are keeping? Ask God to show you who those people are, and ask him for his grace to forgive them and work on rebuilding the trust in your relationships.  We have been forgiven much by God, pray and ask God to show you how to love by forgiving others as well.

It’s time to let go. It’s time to let God. It’s time to love.

Check out the video of the song “Love Never Fails” by Brandon Heath. The lyrics are taken from 1 Corinthians 13 and it effectively portrays how love should be and is.

Scripture to encourage you in truth today:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ in God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13

“Father, forgive for they know not what they do.”

Today’s Challenge: Say “I choose to forgive” and mean it.

Work cited: Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2008)

Love is not Easily Angered

Better to be patient than powerful; better to have self-control than to conquer a city. Proverbs 16:32

When you become angry, what excuses do you use?

“I’m not easily angered. It’s just that he never puts his dishes in the dishwasher.”

“I’m not easily angered. It’s just that she never does what I ask her to do the first time I ask her to do it.”

“I’m not easily angered. It’s just that he doesn’t understand how tired I am.”

“I’m not easily angered. It’s just that they don’t seem to realize the repercussions of their own actions.”

I’ve personally used that last statement within the last four days and I must say, in looking back, I’m ashamed of my actions. Have you ever used one of those phrases to defend blowing your top? I’ve used all of them at one time or another. And I truly don’t consider myself to be a person who is easily angered or even irritated. But, in studying for this post, I’ve come to believe that is exactly the problem – I don’t believe I’m easily angered.  But I’ve never stopped to consider how other might see me.

Lewis Smedes once quotes that “love puts a long fuse on our emotional bombs.” Love does not blow up at the least provocation. Love is calm under pressure. Love accepts responsibility for how we react to others. Love takes responsibility for how we feel and how we handle unjustified aggravation. We cannot be responsible for how others behave, but we can control how we respond to them. We do not blame how we behave on other people. We do not see ourselves as victims.

In The Love Dare, the authors define irritable as “People who are irritable are locked, loaded, and ready to overreact.” (p. 26) One of the biggest factors in losing in your cool is stress. The authors indicate that there are different kinds of stress that can bring out crankiness (or anger) in an effort to encourage us to put margin into our schedules so we can better prioritize and pace ourselves.

The Kendrick brothers also write about selfishness. Love isn’t self-seeking…remember? That pesky word keeps coming up! “When you’re irritable, the heart of the problem is primarily a problem of the heart…Being easily angered is an indicator that a hidden area of selfishness or insecurity is present where love is supposed to rule.” (p. 27, 28) The Kendricks continue on and say that selfishness can show itself as lust, bitterness, greed, and pride. “These motivations can never be satisfied. But when love enters your heart, it calms you down and inspires you to quit focusing on yourself. It loosens your grasp and helps you let go of unnecessary things.” (p. 28)

Love is a matter of the heart. Recently, I realized that God has been doing a great work in me. I used to speak bitterly over the actions my parents (specifically my father) took against me. This included the things my so-called friends did to me when we were kids. And even those of my own kid brother. I was angry and deeply hurt and I used to get some sick, twisted rush out of playing the victim. But no more.

In recent months, I’ve come to realize that I answer my dad calmly when he attempts to provoke me. I’ve run into past classmates and have suddenly found myself wanting to meet them where they are at; asking them about their own lives and if there is anything I can pray for. I hurt for them. God is softening my heart in and around those situations and the more they come up, the firmer I stand on love.

We should be approaching this battle against irritability from the two fronts of stress and selfishness.

To deal with stress, we need to make a list of areas where we need to add margin to our already crammed schedules. What are you doing with the down time you have? Is there a TV show that you can give up? Could you give yourself an extra hour in the morning/evening? Could you use that downtime to build a loving relationship with constructive efforts at communication and responsible actions? Or are you wasting time?

We have a tendency to put our own expectancies on people and when things don’t turn out the way we think they should, we get angry. That’s selfish. To deal with selfishness, make a list of any wrong motives that you need to release – anything that underlies selfish behavior (i.e. lust, bitterness, greed, pride).

Love calls us to be “slow to anger.” Jesus models this for us in his trial before the high priest. He is struck in the face by one of the officials. That is provocation. Jesus responded by asking a question: “If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth why did you strike me?” (John 18:2) Jesus did not immediately blow up at the provocation. Nor did He take it lying down. In a calm matter, He confronted His tormentor with the injustice of his action. He did not want to give the devil a foothold by allowing anger to control Him, even though He would have been justified in responding with anger. Jesus gives us the example of bearing up under the pain of unjust suffering (1 Peter 2:19). “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23)

Non-retaliation, restraining our desire to blow up, to pay back, to ventilate our frustrations, to express our anger in aggressive behavior, to lose our temper, can only happen when we admit that we have no power to help ourselves, and that losing control, and indulging our desire for revenge will only make matters worse. Instead, let God, who is sovereign over all things; take care of our antagonist in his time. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written ‘It is mine to avenge, I will repay,’ says the Lord… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-21)

Love enables you to see into the heart of the one who is harassing you. Love sees the anxiety, the fear, the pain, the defensive behavior, of the person who is controlled by anger. Love gives you the patience and kindness to endure the provocation of the person who is self-seeking, and who wants to be in control. Love pities the person who is out of control and is making a fool of himself. Love bites his tongue so that he does not say something that he might regret later. Love listens to hear what is not being said, what is behind what is being said. Love gives you the words to respond when you are confronted with bad temper.

God loved us so much, He did not allow His anger to wipe us out of existence when we so much deserved it. Instead, He allowed His drama of redemption to unfold throughout history, climaxing with the Person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to try to understand other people, and with respect, place ourselves in the shoes of another. We need to listen, and not allow our hostile feelings to get the best of us. We are not to let the sun set before we extinguish our anger with our spouse. Since God is patiently working in us, we should reciprocate with the understanding of the debt we owe to God and the unfathomable love and concern He has for us. Love puts us in another’s shoes.

Authentic Love is not touchy or resentful, and does not “fly off the handle!”

Scripture to encourage you in truth today:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. James 4:1-3

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6, 7

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of miracle. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31, 32

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 1 Timothy 6:10

For man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:20

In your anger do not sin; Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26-27

You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:43-44

All a man’s ways seem innocent to him, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Proverbs 16:2

Today’s Challenge: Make a list of things you can do to improve your use of any quiet moments you might have, starting today. Look back over a time when you may have overreacted recently. What was the real motivation behind that? What one thing could you do to take a step away from selfishness and towards forgiveness, gratitude, and contentment?

Work cited: Kendrick, Stephen and Alex, The Love Dare (Nashville:  B & H Publishing Group, 2008)