Do I Love?

With a new year just beginning, Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, and a major life change just around the corner, I think now is the perfect time to evaluate how well I love. I’ve been studying 1 Corinthians 13, The Love Chapter, and I want to share what has been on my heart.

Before diving into 1 Corinthians 13 let me say, I am not capable of loving. The selfless, unending and true love discussed in this chapter can only be shown by God himself. It is the kind of love that prompted God to send His only Son to die for us while we were still sinners. My sinful flesh is simply not capable of showing that kind of love, but the Holy Spirit inside of me is. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” If you haven’t accepted the free gift of Christ’s loving salvation from your sin then you do not have the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit genuine love is impossible. If you need to know how to accept that free gift, please contact us at contact@intentionalgospel.org. We would be thrilled to share with you how the love of Christ has changed our lives.

1 Corinthians 13 lays out a pretty clear description of what love is. We can use this passage as a test to see how genuinely we love others. So here are five questions I like to ask myself.

  1. Do I love patiently?

When I think of patient love I can’t help but think of the love of Christ. He created us to have a relationship with Him, but our sin separated us. He made the ultimate sacrifice so that our punishment would be paid and we could have a loving and intimate relationship with Him. Before we can enter into that relationship, we have to accept salvation and let Him make us into a new creation. This is where the patient love of Christ is strikingly evident. He does not force Himself on us. He does not make us have a relationship with Him. He gives us the choice. So often we run from Him and toward our sin. Our sin is comfortable, familiar and seems fun in the moment. We choose not to see the incredible joy and abundant life that Christ offers us. So He waits ever so patiently. He gently whispers to us. He puts people in our path who share His love with us, but He never forces us to accept Him. We reject Him over and over and over again, but He continues loving us. I pray my love emulates Christ’s patience, so that even when someone rejects and wounds me my patient love for them will not waiver.

  1. Do I love selflessly?

Again, there is no greater picture of selfless love than Christ’s. We were the ones who deserved to die for the sin we committed, yet He stepped in and took our punishment. It is because of His selfless sacrifice on the cross that we can proclaim, “Not guilty!” When I am letting the Holy Spirit fill me, I can show selfless love to those around me. Selfless love requires sacrifice. It means sacrificing time, energy, and/or money in order to bless someone. My husband is incredible at this. He is always looking for another way to bless someone, including me and our girls. Sometimes it means he gives his time to stay up late and listen to me talk. My love language is quality time! Sometimes it means he sacrifices his energy so he can play with our daughters. Sometimes it means he sacrifices our money in order to give to a Christ-centered cause. Josh’s selfless love inspires me to be aware of the needs of others, rather than focusing on myself. For that I am always thankful.

  1. Do I love forgivingly?

Forgiveness and anger are in direct opposition. Instead of anger, genuine love readily forgives. Christ-like love is not easily angered and it does not hold grudges. One of my spiritual heroes and our oldest daughter’s namesake is the perfect example of forgiving love. Elisabeth Elliot watched her husband Jim leave to go share Jesus to the Auca Indians in Ecuador. She didn’t know that would be the last time she would see him. The Aucas murdered Jim before he even had the chance to show them the gospel. If it were me, I would never be able to forgive those people for murdering my husband. Elisabeth had a different and Christ-centered mindset. She loved the Aucas enough to forgive them. She saw them as God saw them, valuable human beings made in His image. Therefore, she took it upon herself to go to the Aucas and make another attempt to share the gospel with them. Because of Elisabeth’s forgiving love, the Aucas had a chance to hear the gospel and many of them were saved and radically changed. I pray that my testimony is one of forgiveness, even when it is most difficult.

  1. Do I love hopefully?

Hope is defined as, “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” So how do I love hopefully? I love someone with an expectation to be reunited with them and a desire to see something incredible happen in their life. Hopeful love is what I feel towards the precious children at Malawi Children’s Mission. It has been over five years since Josh and I last saw them. Since the day we left them we have been filled with hopeful expectation to be reunited again. Not only do we hope to be reunited with them, but we hope to see Christ work in their lives. We long to see each of them come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and make Him the Lord of their life. We long to see them break the cycle of poverty they were born into. We long to see Christ work on their behalf. That is hopeful love and it is what drives us to return to Malawi.

  1. Do I love unceasingly?

Unceasing, never-failing, unconditional love is the genuine love of Christ. In a culture that promotes a false image of love, this kind of love is rare. We are told that love is an emotion that you fall in to. The problem with that is you can just as easily fall out. Feelings fade but Christ-like love never ceases. Isaiah 54:10 says, “’Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” I get so much peace in knowing that no matter what I do or how badly I mess up, God will always love me as His child. What an incredible promise. I desire for everyone around me to feel the unceasing love of Christ when they are around me.

I’m far from perfect. So often I try and love with my own strength, rather than letting the Holy Spirit work through me. When I fail I am reminded that God’s love is perfect. If I rely on Him, I have the strength to love patiently, selflessly, forgivingly, hopefully and unceasingly.