Recently in current events there has been a lot of discussion about what love is and what love isn’t. Whose responsibility is it to define love? For me it is God who designed a creation that never ceases to exhibit love. God is the designer, creator and definer of who He is. God is the creator, we don’t define love, God does. John 3:16 says:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God so loved that he gave. God has loved everyone in this world, no exceptions. How? By providing life through His son, that whosoever believes in Him has certain rights with God. This involves a choice. God provided man with choice. Love involves offering something without force.
I Corinthians 13 has a few things to say about God’s love:
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
You would think prophesy, tongues, all knowledge, all faith would be the ultimate in godly actions. These things are nothing without God’s love involved. The life in them is the source of energy behind them.
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Wait! Feeding the poor and being a martyr for the cause seem like great examples of unselfish giving. Without the love of God, these activities are more flat than flat.
4 Charity (love) suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 Charity never faileth: I Corinthians 13:4-8
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
The love God pours into our hearts is distinct, clear, unmistakeable and satisfying. The love of God helps us focus less on ourselves, comparisons, and pride. It produces right results no matter how complex the situation. There is no law needed in the presence of the fruit of the spirit. It will flood every nook and cranny of where God sends it. It absolutely never fails!
Recently, I got to thinking about the word ‘intercession’ in Romans 8:26:
26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
As I read through the verse, the word ‘helpeth’ jumped out and I looked up the Greek word and found ‘sunantilambano’. Old Greek is a great language. We can gain a lot of insite into a word by examining its roots. ‘Sunantilambano’ is made up of 3 word parts. “Sun’ means ‘together with’. “Anti’ means against. ‘Lambano’ means to take hold of something.
If I were to rewrite this first part of the verse with these parts in mind it might look like this:
Likewise the Spirit also works together with us to take hold and move against something that is causing some problems….
It is magnificent to think that the Spirit can move together with us in such a way to take care of things we have no idea how to straighten out. So often the idiom ‘the devil is in the details’ is an actual reality and can cause headaches and confusion in figuring things out.
The gift of holy spirit that has been given to us works with us. It does not work independently of us. The spirit does the searching of the fine details and heart factors, none of which is readily visible. As we recognize its work in us, the way out starts to become visible one step at a time.
So much of the Old Testament reveals a lot of ‘people stuff’. People will be people. As I finish up the book of Numbers, I realize there is nothing new under the sun. Much of what is addressed in Corinthians reflects the same thing. Human behavior is really very predictable.
God provided the law in the Old Testament to help His people live more abundantly. Our traffic laws make a great illustration why laws are given. There are more than 25 million cars on the road today in the United States. If there were no laws, it would be mass chaos. The primary purpose of the laws is not to catch, fine and jail people who violate the law. The laws were set down to keep people safe. The world is treacherous.
The law brought down from Mt Sinai eventually expanded when well-meaning men or not so well-meaning men got a hold of it and fine-tuned God’s simple list of 10. They added regulations, rules, oral law and legal traditions.
In the gospels, Jesus Christ simplified the law by providing two categories: love God and love your neighbor. Looking at the first 4 commandments and the Old Testament, the context of the whole list is evident: loving God. In examining the last six, how we deal with fellow humans in the light of loving God is spelled out. It is a list with two main ideas, that of loving God first and loving your neighbor. I really don’t think the purpose of this list was to make each one an end in itself, or manage and control a wayward people. God wanted to help people live more abundantly.
Ultimately, through the faith of Jesus Christ, true righteousness is available to any believer. As a result, our lives will not be dragged down in guilt and condemnation in trying to live up to the law. In the heart of our hearts we are truly free to handle life and our relationships with others without pressure when we trust God and His loving grace.
The trouble with cable news (I mean one of the troubles of cable news) is the ‘seesaw living’ it engenders. One minute it is ‘this’ and one minute it is ‘that’. Up and down, up and down, up and down! Minute by minute living can have some disadvantages, especially if it is controlled by circumstances.
Have you ever been in a situation that seemed to switch directions by the hour; it is totally draining. This can happen easily in our cyber world today of twitter, Facebook, emails, snapchat, instagram, live streaming etc, etc, etc. We expect instant answers!
God can provide instant answers, yes, but most often things develop and that takes time. It doesn’t mean He is not listening or not answering. Too often we give up before we see results.
The book of James was written of a time that was both difficult and amazing for people who loved God. Persecution and danger were everywhere after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It was like a dense, thick cloud that hung over the believers. For those who believed in God, it was also one of the greatest moments in history, the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. It was a dynamic time. Read through the book of James and see how many times words like ‘patience’, ‘endure’, ‘continue’, ‘waiteth’ ‘no variableness’, and admonitions to be slow to do something are referred to. It is a great book.
There is a great illustration in James 5:7:
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
The early rain is the autumn rains that are necessary to prepare the soil for planting. The latter rain is necessary for growth before harvest. Crops take time. God may take His time. We all know He is able to do magnificent things (just take a look around – Did you see the moon the other night?) We also need to know that He is willing:
James 5:11: Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience (endurance) of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful (compassionate), and of tender mercy.
Cable and all the cyber opines will never reflect God’s compassion. His compassion is found in His word and the spirit that works in your heart. That is where you place your trust.