“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. And though I have the gift of prophesy, 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. 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. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not putffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be propheicies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge it shall vanish away.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)
A few things are bearing heavily on my mind this morning. First, the issue of love. The other, my choice to read, study, and quote the King James Version of the scriptures. I’ve been asked, “why do you use King James?” The answer, “it is what I cut my teeth on.” I started reading the Bible we had at home, my parents’ home, when I was saved at age eleven. We didn’t have commentaries or concordances or other translations and I wanted to know what God’s Word said, so I read what I had and the writings of the King James version of the scriptures is what resonates in my memory as that is how I first learned it. I realize that we no longer say, “knoweth, hopeth, believeth” but that is how I learned what God had to say to me those 30 plus years ago and is how it is remembered most often still today.
Now back to the issue of love and how it became the predominant message of the scriptures to me. First, upon my salvation experience, I immediately recognized an overflow of love that poured through me for others in ways I had never before known. Oftentimes, I recall the scripture that says, “I knew I had passed from death unto life because I loved the brethren.” This is true of me.
The other way the Lord has worked in my life concerning the issue of love dates back a few years. I was suffering and struggling with a situation I had no idea how to handle. My heart wrenched with sorrow and my mind continually called out to the Lord, “I don’t know what to do! Please show me what to do!” Many days, weeks, and months into the journey, the Lord spoke back as surely as I am writing here this day. He answered, “love them. Love him, love her, love them.” The weight of His Words spoken directly into my heart made me cry out even more, “Lord help me to love them!” Though I had love, the love He was calling me to show was a love only He could give. It was pure love, not humanly love that asks for love in return, for preconditions and ongoing requirements to be met in order for it to begin and remain. His love…His love is poured out as a result of HIs good pleasure and will not of our deserving or meeting a requirement. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” We had done nothing to earn His favor, nothing to merit such loving grace, yet…He gave it, and that is exactly what He was bidding me to do. He gave clarity and meaning as He spoke His Words to my heart.
An understanding dawned on me in that moment, one that has not diminished since that time and place. I find myself in complete and utter dependence upon the Lord to supply what He bids me to do. I can do nothing in my own strength, not even love, but must forever get from Him the strength, the will, the courage, and the heart to do what He wills for me to do. As He is always and forever faithful, He granted me godly love to offer to those I prayed for. He opened my heart in a new way and has since called to me again and again to love, not just those dear ones from that particular time and place, but many others since. I often hear Him calling when I look into the faces of my students as I stand before them to teach, “love them.”
What wondrous love He has given us in the gift of our Savior and Lord. What love we are to share with those who come into our lives. Once our lives are over, nothing will ever matter more than whether or not we loved as we walked this earth. May we remember this today and in the days to come.