Love is often distorted, misunderstood, and hijacked to meet our own wants and needs. Lets take a look at what scripture says about the rule of love.
The Rule of Love
The necessity of love as the motive for exercising spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 13:1-3)
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.
God gifts us with spiritual gifts. These gifts are given to build up the body of Christ. The sad thing is that these gifts can be hijacked. Too many people look spiritual without their spirituality being ruled by love. Love is others focused, gospel centered, and birthed out of an identity formed through Christ. Let’s illustrate this thought.
- Others Focused
William Tyndale was betrayed by Henry Phillips to the imperial authorities seized in Antwerp in 1535 and held in the castle of Vilvoorde (Filford) near Brussels. He was tried on a charge of heresy in 1536 and condemned to be burned to death, despite Thomas Cromwell’s intercession on his behalf. Tyndale “was strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned”. His final words, spoken “at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice”, were reported as “Lord! Open the King of England’s eyes.”
- Gospel Centered
In 1969, Wang Zhiming and his wife and sons were arrested. On December 29, 1973, Wang was executed in a stadium in front of more than 10,000 people. The largely Christian crowd was not cowed into submission by the spectacle, but rather many rushed the stand where they berated the prosecuting official. Legacy.
After the Cultural Revolution, official attempts to placate the Miao included a compensatory payment of 1,300 (then $250) to Wang’s family. However, the real compensation for the great suffering of Wang and the other Christians in Wuding has come in church growth. When Wang Zhiming was arrested, there were 2,795 Christians in Wuding. By 1980 the church had grown to about 12,000, and Wuding now has over 30,000 Christians and more than 100 places of worship. Sporadic persecution in Wuding continues.
- Birthed out of an Identity Formed through Christ
Jim Elliot killed while sharing the gospel with the Huaorani people of Ecuador. His journal entry for October 28, 1949, expresses his belief that work dedicated to Jesus was more important than his life (see Luke 9:24 in the Bible). “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Countless men and women are ruled by love. Each day love is used to shape families, communities, and entire cultures. What could God do through your life ruled by love? There are infinite opportunities each day to submit to the rule of love. What legacy of Christ’s love could you leave?
The Character of Love
The character of love is expressed in relationships with people (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
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. 8 Love never fails.
This is not just a beautiful definition of love; it is an expression of the Character of Christ. God desires that Christ’s character be on display through every fiber of our being. Let’s evaluate if we truly do express the love of Christ.
- Are you patient?
- Are you kind?
- Are you free of envy?
- Are you free of boasting?
- Are you free of pride?
- Do you honor others no matter the cost?
- Are you seeking the best for others?
- Are you hard to anger?
- Do you forgive and harbor resentment?
- Does evil sadden and/or anger you?
- Do you rejoice in God’s truth?
- Do you protect what God says is right?
- Do you trust what God says is right?
- Do you find your hope in what God says is right?
- Do you believe what God says is right will persevere?
If you can say yes to each of these, the character of Christ is on display through your life. If you can’t say yes to each of these, here’s what you do: admit your struggles to God, ask him to help you replace your struggles with his grace, and share your struggle with a trusted Christian friend.
The Reign of Love
The supremacy of love as a characteristic of God’s family (1 Cor. 13:8-13).
But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
The more we learn to express Christ’s love the more we embrace our future. One day anything that distorts, confuses, manipulates, or attempts to redefine God’s love will end. As we continue to be transformed by God’s love we begin to experience our eternal reality a little more every day. How can a better perspective of God’s love change your current reality?