Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 21 May 20:
1 Corinthians 16:13, 14 — Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.
If someone were to ask you to give an example of heroic strength and courage, what would your example be? The Bible says ultimate strength and courage is revealed by genuine love. Genuine love trumps everything else.
Paul said, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing…. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13)
As we discussed on Monday, genuine love is more amazing than prophetic powers, the ability to do miraculous things, or the willingness to sacrifice everything for a cause. Genuine love is truly incredible, even miraculous. It is not natural; it is supernatural, the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22), the power of God revealed. The Bible says, “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us…. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit…. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:12, 13, 16)
God’s greatest command for you is love. And to be clear, Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48) God calls you to a radical love which unconditionally loves those who are unloving that God would be glorified and that you would have the opportunity to fellowship with Christ in his sufferings. (Philippians 3:10)
When Jesus commanded you to this radical love for those who don’t “deserve” it, don’t appreciate it, and who will likely continue to hurt you, He certainly understood the cost of that daily sacrifice –
– Romans 5:8 — …but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
– John 13:14-15 — If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.
– Luke 23:34 — And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
– Luke 9:23 — If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
– Luke 10:3 — Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.
– Matthew 5:39 — But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
– 1 Peter 3:9 — Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.
– Romans 12:21 — Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
– Matthew 5:10 — Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
– Romans 12:14 — Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them….
– 2 Timothy 3:12 — Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,
God has indwelt you with His Spirit and empowered you supernaturally with the strength to love with genuine love; and you can have courage in the love and promises of God – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?” (Romans 8:35) Do you have the strength and courage to obey God’s greatest command for you of love? “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 21 May 20: Love those you know who are hardest to love, make it your aim. Don’t try to do this in your own strength. Pray and rely on the Holy Spirit.