It’s all about LOVE.
I don’t plan a message and hope the right words come out. I don’t txt a friend with no intention or knowledge of what I am going to say. I plan it out. I think about what i want to say and why. I’m willing to bet money on the fact that God had a plan for what he was saying to the guys writing the Bible and I also believe He said things in a certain order for specific reasons. Even though the letters from Paul were for specific churches at a specific time for a specific purpose they are just as applicable to us today.
* Galatians 5:22-25 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
A few months ago I was talking to Seven about this… Love is the first fruit listed and Self Control is the last. Why is that? What's that about? Did God do that on purpose, or is it just how Paul wrote it? Did God make sure they were in a certain order or was it just "random"?
I am going to go out on a limb and say because it’s important that we remember those 2 the most….Because if we are operating in Love and Self Control the other ones seem to fall right into place. If we are operating in those two fruits 100% of the time, spiritual growth is inevitable.
Check it out:
1 Corinthians 13
V1-3 “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”
Corinth was the Bible version of a city like LasVegas. Think flashy. Think in your face. Think WAY out there. Even though this letter is to saved people, they still had a bent toward “flashy-in-your-face” kind of things. When the Holy Spirit came to the church in Corinth the Christians ate it up! They loved healing, miracles, signs, wonders, speaking in tongues and prophecy. To them, these things were EVIDENCE of their faith. To them prophecy(or other obvious gifts) made them "cool" and "important" in the church like fame and prostitution made them outside the church. Noticed and talked about. "Oh so and so got a word for me. they must be super tight with Jesus."
Speaking in tongues and prophesy was evidence in the church at Corinth that “you had arrived” spiritually. What Paul is saying in 1 Corinthians 13 is; “News flash folks: not so much.” He was saying "The evidence of spiritual growth in your life is your ability to act in Love." The evidence of who you are in the Lord does not come by the resume you hold in the Holy Spirit.
Do you think of yourself as a “loving” person?
1 Cor. 13:4-7 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I have heard this about a million times. Not kidding. 99% of the weddings I have been to have this read or quoted to some extent. I DO NOT LIKE THIS!!!!! In fact i will throw my shoe at the Pastor if he thinks about mentioning this chapter at my wedding! These verses are NOT talking about marital love! Paul is not telling the church how to be a good husband or wife (that's in 1 Cor. 7)... YES, marital love needs all those things in it, but that is NOT what Paul is getting at here.
I like to say that if i can read that verse and replace the word "Love" with my name... i've got it down..."Cassie is patient, Cassie is Kind..." Yeah right?!
There have been times in my life I have hated this scripture. Kind. I don’t want to be kind. I have wanted to be in your face rude. I have wanted to give up. I have had times when i didn’t have any hope. I have about lost faith. I have not wanted to endure every circumstance. I wanted God to snap the magic button and fix it. I have wanted to erase 13 years of someone’s life, give them a “get out of jail free” card and the restart button. I have wanted to love who I wanted and how I wanted.
The thing is; we don't get to define love.
According to the Word, God is Love.
*1 John 4:7-8 “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
All of our love can only be an imitation of God’s love. We can only love to the extent that we have experienced God's love.
*Ephesians 3:18 “And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.”
*1 John 4:12 “No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.”
Wow! How amazing is it that His love can be brought to full expression in us?! This can only happen if we know God. Know his character and have experienced his love in a way that touches deeper than the butterflies you got from your 6th grade crush. His love is outrageous for us! He has been pursuing us since the beginning of time! BEFORE we knew him he loved us. While we were running away from him He wanted us for himself!!! That love can be brought into full expression in us! In order for us to truly love those around us we have to have experienced it, lived out of it and been overwhelmed by it. I am not saying you have to spend 10 hours a day in a prayer closet or listening to Misty Edwards . I am not saying you have to go to a worship school or prayer conference to know his love. This is not knowing the love of God. You may experience it there, but this does not equal knowledge of his love.
What we believe about the Love of God and our experience with it will directly affect how we love others.
1 Cor. 13:8-12 8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless. 11 When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. 12 Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.
Heaven is our goal… or at least it should be. It should be what our lives point to. It should be what fuels everything we do. When we get to heaven we will see clearly all that we have been living for! When we get there we will not need prophecy or words of knowledge. We won’t need to speak in tongues. These things will disappear. Love. Love will last forever. The Love of God will last forever. I would hope that with that knowledge we would have a deeper desire to learn to Love and learn what Love is (beyond weddings and endless quoting of v. 4-7.
How we choose to love people/or not love people will also last forever. How we choose to love our family lasts beyond this moment, this weekend or until we move out.
Grow up. If we only ate once a week we would die. We need to grow our faith. In Love. Grow our knowledge of the Word. In Love. Put away the things of this world that make us look like baby Christians. In Love. Be mature. In Love. Stop counting our "spiritual" acts as maturity. Stop focusing on how we are so gifted in the Spirit and learn to SIMPLY LOVE.
I am NOT saying to ignore spiritual gifts or discount the work of the Holy Spirit in the church or individually, but i am saying we need to desire to walk in love more than we desire to be "super spiritual".
When all is said and done love is what lasts. It's all about love. Your healing and prophesies won't go to heaven with you, the way you loved will.