Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Love is a Verb

Love is a Verb


Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;  not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.” – 1 Peter 3:8-9
Quick! Name the first characteristic of God that you can think of!
Was it love that you named?  The first characteristic we most often associate with God is love, because God is love, as 1 John 4:8 teaches us.  That doesn’t mean He’s a big puffy red heart, but that He authored love, He created it, and He exemplifies it in His being.  That being said, it shouldn’t surprise us that part of the process of sanctification, being made holy even as He is holy, is learning to love one another, which would make us more like God. 

Christ himself loved us enough to give his life for us.  John 15:13 says Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” I’m not challenging you to die for your friends, but to serve them.  Lay down just a portion of your life for them.  It may dig into your finances, it may dig into your time, and it may even chip away at your pride.  Service to God never comes without some form of personal sacrifice, which is exemplified to the greatest extent in the sacrifice Christ gave on the cross.
1 Peter 3:8-17 talks about our work in serving each other.  It subtly breaks it down into emotions of love, and deeds of love.  We are to be compassionate, loving, and tenderhearted towards them.  These are emotional effects of love.  But love should never be hidden away in the corners of our hearts!  Proverbs 27:5 says that even public correction is better than love when it is concealed.  Love is not just an emotion.  Love is a verb – an action.

Peter goes on to explain that we are to be a blessing to those that revile us, and deal wrongly with us.  As Christians, we don’t give them what they dish out.  Let me go further and say that no Christian should use the word karma regarding their enemy’s actions, which refers to a theory of Hinduism and Buddhism!  What a disgrace to God that is!  This is not how we respond to our enemies, those that have hurt us or dealt unjustly with us.  It is no longer “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” as under the old law.  We are under the new covenant of grace.  We are to forgive as we have been forgiven.  Failure to do so hinders your prayers (Mark 11:25). So those that we serve in love must include, and maybe even first should include, those that have wronged us. 
Peter says, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.  Read that again…key word “that”.  You are called to be a blessing – “that” – you may inherit a blessing.

He continues to say in verses 10-12 that we are not to speak evil (gossip, profanity, defamation, slander, etc…), or to tell speak deceitfully (lies - black ones and little white ones).  We are to “seek peace and pursue it”, which is a call to not only look for peace, but generate it and chase after it to attain it.  Sometimes that means saying you’re sorry when the situation is not your fault.  Sometimes it means swallowing your pride, and taking the slap across the face (literally or figuratively).  These are also ways in which we show love to those around us.  Love, being the opposite of hate, is what is given whether the recipient is worthy or unworthy in our eyes. 
Does that sound too hard to do?  Maybe this will make it easier.  In verse 12 Peter writes For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” God hasn’t overlooked their sins toward you, and is mindful of your acts toward them.

This year my daughter asked for a jar.  It’s just a plain jar with a lid, nothing special.  She wanted to use it for a blessing jar, taking small strips of paper and writing on them something good that happened every day.  At the end of the year, she’ll have 365 things to be mindful of, and can offer God praise for them.
Counting your blessings is something we all should do.  But what if our goal was to be a blessing 365 days of this year?  What if every day we chose to do some act of kindness for our friends, family, or even total strangers?  What if we were the ones who showed love to those around us in ways that prove the love we feel?  In one year’s time, how much closer to being an example of Christ we could be if we chose to daily bless others.  How much closer to God we would be if we enacted part of the process of sanctification within ourselves and became a vessel of blessings for others.

So, the question is this.  What will you do TODAY to show others your love?  Tomorrow, same question.

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