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Ladder of Love
Love, sweet love: the hallmark of Valentine's day.
Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer talked about the God-shaped vacuum in the center of every human being, and I believe that is the source of our quest for love.
We search for human love as though it were the Holy Grail; but often when we find it, we are disappointed because we expect too much of faulty human love. But we are still encouraged to love and to love well. I Corinthians 13 provides guidelines we all can use.
1. Love never gives up.
2. Love cares more for others than for self.
3. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
4. Love doesn't strut.
5. Love doesn't have a swelled head.
6. Love doesn't force itself on others.
7. Love isn't always me first.
8. Love doesn't fly off the handle.
9. Love doesn't keep score of the sins of others.
10. Love doesn't revel when others grovel.
11. Love takes pleasure in the flowering of truth.
12. Love puts up with anything.
13. Love trusts God always.
14. Love always look for the best.
15. Love never looks back.
16. Love keeps going to the end.
This refreshingly updated version of this chapter is from The Message, a translation of the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, by Eugene H. Peterson.
Wow! I think when I read it. What a list! On the one hand, I can be so discouraged. On the other hand, I can take hope and courage. Because Christ sets standards for us that are higher than those we set for ourselves, there is room for improvement; there is hope of progress!
Now I'm thinking of family and friends as I write this, but then I look at the Sermon on the Mount (again in The Message). In Matthew 5:43-48 Christ told his disciples this:
"You're familiar with the old written law, 'Love your friend.' and its unwritten companion, 'Hate your enemy.' I'm challenging that. I'm telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. (Underlining is mine.) When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.
"This is what God does. He gives His bestthe sun to warm and the rain to nourishto everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and the nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."
That's the spirit of love. I see this as an attitude that we put on because as we think in our hearts so are we. If I harbor bitterness and resentment in my innermost being, I am not going to have the first chance of making good on the challenge of these verses.
So this Valentine's Day 2000 is a good time for me to think beyond the cozy warmth of my circle of family and friends. I need to remember that the God of love has a much broader loving concern than I do.
Then I need to get to work!
For Further Consideration:
I Corinthians 13