Our society is wonderful at using the word Love. Imagine one little word that would be used in countless situations, circumstances, and relationships with people and with inanimate objects that actually give no love nor receive love. How often do we stop to think if we really mean the word that we say so easily at times? The Greek language has four distinct words for love: agápe, éros, philía, and storgē. There is a simplest clarity that they seemed to know how to tap into with the understanding that one word alone would never be enough to embody the fullness of what Love really is.
But what is Love really? We are taught to repeat it as babies with the hopes that we would understand this concept on some level.
1 Corinthians 13
13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not[ love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing. 3 If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.4 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7 Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].8 Love never fails [it never fades nor ends]. But as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for the gift of special knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part [for our knowledge is fragmentary and incomplete]. 10 But when that which is complete and perfect comes, that which is incomplete and partial will pass away. 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 did away with childish things. 12 For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God]. 13 And now there remain: faith [abiding trust in God and His promises], hope [confident expectation of eternal salvation], love [unselfish love for others growing out of God’s love for me], these three [the choicest graces]; but the greatest of these is love.
Are we amazed by these verses? Can we grasp what Love is now? It would seem that even in this, we will not have enough to honestly understand Love. Can we even fathom fully Christ’s Love for us or God’s to send His Son? We would like to think we can at times, but do we really?
We have heard “Love the Sinner and Hate the sin.” Was this on the ten commandments? The problem with this phrase is that it is directed at SOMEONE! This is not a general statement that I hate this kind of sin and look to avoid it and be free of it for myself. We are stating something very powerful at a person, and what is being stated is wrong.
However, when they persisted in questioning Him, He straightened up and said, “He who is without [any] sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
3 Why do you look at the [insignificant] speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice and acknowledge the [egregious] log that is in your own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me get the speck out of your eye,’ when there is a log in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite (play-actor, pretender), first get the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Do we really think we can ever truly clean up our own life to take the speck out of someone else’s eye? If we truly and honestly examine every aspect of our actions and thoughts, we will find we have enough to manage on our own side without pointing fingers. Sinful thoughts are the same as doing the act of the sin to God.
And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”
The truth is that many many people struggle day in and day out with feeling UNLOVED! No, they won’t always tell you or wear a t-shirt stating it, so that you can see or know it. People look at their sins as unforgivable and unlovable to others. Did we send them that message? Will you still love someone after you find out the egregious sins that they did two decades ago, two years ago, two months ago, two weeks ago, or two minutes ago? Can any of us walk out the door and assure anyone that we will not sin? Just driving the car leads most to sinning on some level. Do we hold people up to standards that they will not always be able to live up to or even ones that we cannot live up to as well? Does our love then become canceled out or conditional when we find out the truth- We are all sinners on the Potter’s Wheel of God.
What you struggle with today, may be something that another conquered ten years ago. Does it make one better than another? Is what we struggle against today definitive about who we are in Christ or who we will be ten years from now?
The Pastor, of a church I attended when I lived in Illinois, was so good at being transparent. I know many would judge him, but I appreciated all that he willingly and openly shared. He told a story of him picking up dinner at Taco Bell (already hear the judgment from the crowd), and he forgot to get his wife hot sauce. When she mentioned it, he lost it, they got into an argument, and he threw the food at the wall. Many will immediately make assumptions about who he is; many will want to know if something else was going on, aside from this, to cause this extreme reaction; others will say, “I’ve done that.” How many will see him now with a tarnished testimony and not a godly example for God?
The Truth- God sees us for who we are in the finished works of the Cross and in the identity of Christ. No, none of us have arrived, and we all have something to learn and lay down at the feet of our Father daily. We all need God’s Strength and Love to make it just one more day. But God sees us already in our perfected form. He is no longer looking at our sins for they are covered and paid for. He is seeing us as we will one day be and already are to Him.
What is our threshold in all of our relationships? Will you still love me tomorrow if I have done ______________? Does time matter? “Well, they did that sin when they were a foolish 20 year old.” Or are there justifications that we will make for or against someone? Is one circumstance acceptable or understandable for one person and not another? Do we even need the background story around their sin to still Love them unconditionally?
One of the strongest weapons the enemy uses against the Bride is to get us to be conditional with our Love by using sins. God never gave conditions and acceptable reasons for not loving people. Romans 3: 19-31 The law brings attention to our sins and convicts; vs.22-24 22 This righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [Jew or Gentile] who believe [and trust in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s Son]. There is no distinction, 23 since all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are being justified [declared free of the guilt of sin, made acceptable to God, and granted eternal life] as a gift by His [precious, undeserved] [grace, through the redemption [the payment for our sin] which is [provided] in Christ Jesus.
We need to see ourselves differently because of the works of the Cross. No longer is death our portion because of sin, and our responsibilities are different when we sin. God is making us into our perfection now, not just when we reach Heaven. When we sin, He will use that spot and blemish to make us into His Son’s image by working that sin out of our character. We have to be willing to go through that process. I hear people say things like, “oh I forgive my pastor for losing his temper at his wife and throwing the food on the wall.” Really? He didn’t sin against you so your forgiveness is all about you thinking you are above and blameless in truth. We do not look holy to God for saying such things. We are to Love our leaders and be there for them. We are to Love those close to us. We are to Love our neighbor. We are to Love our enemies. There was no “BUT” anywhere in that.
Guess what? Christ already paid the full price for all of our past, present, and future sins. We owe our lives to Him alone. When we decide to withdraw our love because we learned about another's sin, we are not living in the Will of God. We are not being His Heart and Arms of Love. We are to walk this life with one another. Being critical and judgmental was not in God’s commandments. Love does not mean you are a doormat and should continue to let an unrepentant person walk all over in your life though. Hear what is being said. Loving someone as Christ would have you, does not mean you let unhealthy people have full reign in your life. Healthy boundaries allow for Love, but limits in interaction and exposure.
1 Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well. 2 Carry one another’s burdens and in this way you will fulfill the requirements of the law of Christ [that is, the law of Christian love]. 3 For if anyone thinks he is something [special] when [in fact] he is nothing [special except in his own eyes], he deceives himself. 4 But each one must carefully scrutinize his own work [examining his actions, attitudes, and behavior], and then he can have the personal satisfaction and inner joy of doing something commendable without comparing himself to another. 5 For every person will have to bear [with patience] his own burden [of faults and shortcomings for which he alone is responsible].
We must continually examine ourselves so that the enemy does not get a foothold in the cracks that we let grow in our foundations and walls. We must deal with our sins and not think that ignoring them will make it better in our lives. We need to Love endlessly without ceasing towards one another. Live in understanding and grace for we all struggle to overcome sin. No one is better at sinning than another. No pass is given or distinction- we all have sinned and fallen short!
When we use the word Love towards one another, we had better mean it as God would have us to. The world is staving from a lack of real and authentic Love. Be Love everywhere you go. Ask God to fill your heart with His Love for a Lost and Dying World. He will fill you beyond imagining to Love even those the world would stone.
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow? YES, I WILL!