Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4–7)
Love is not a soft feeling. Love is the hardest thing in the world. In fact, apart from the working of the Holy Spirit in our innermost self, love, as envisioned in Scripture, is impossible.
Try this exercise. Go back and reread today’s text aloud, and everywhere you see the word love (or its pronoun), insert your name.
How did that impact you? Now go back and read it aloud one more time, only this time insert the name of Jesus.
The point of this exercise is not to get you to compare yourself to Jesus, but to realize that your only hope of becoming a person of real love is Jesus in you. Scripture speaks of this elsewhere as, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).
This is what waking up is all about. It means becoming fully alive to the power of God, which is the love of Jesus Christ, more and more with every passing day. The realization of the gap between where we are and who we aspire to become leads us back through the path of awakening again and again. Holy dissatisfaction with our present capacity to love others leads us deeper into the depths of the mind of Christ, which takes us to new levels of dependence on his presence within us. This leads us to new heights of delighting in God and onward into heretofore unknown possibilities and capacities to love other people.
Abba Father, your will is right, your ways are true, and your love is better than life. We want our love for others to become less limited by our deficiencies and more filled with your possibilities. We know this will make us people of arresting character and people whose lives reveal your incredible goodness to others. Lord Jesus, increase our sensitivity to your power, which is love. Raise our awareness of our own deficit of power, which is our lovelessness. Reveal to our innermost self the futility of striving after this in our own strength and lead us in the way of a deeper surrender to you. You have given yourself to us. Now grace us with the courage to give ourselves more fully to you, that you might make us a gift of your love to others. Come, Holy Spirit, and make it so. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Share together about your own experience of the difference between striving harder and surrendering more deeply.
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