Love Can Change a Heart…

     Beginning with my February 10th post, Listening on the Journey… has dealt with love as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV)

     Today’s final post focuses on verse 7. Many insights and several quotes are taken from a book my daughter recommended, How’s Your Soul? – Why Everything that Matters Starts with the Inside of You by Judah Smith, a Millennial pastor from Seattle.

     When the book arrived from Amazon, I reviewed the Table of Contents and noticed Chapter Five addressed the topic of love, asking this question: Is Love God or is God Love? I don’t generally do this, but right then, I started reading the middle chapter of my new book. Now, I’m working on the rest and recommend it.

     As Pastor Smith explained, Paul wrote these words to a group of Christians who were attempting to build a faith community in a city that was “highly sexualized…where love was God and sensuality was almost deified.” Paul wanted his friends to realize the kind of love that can change a heart must be “defined by God.” Following are highlights from verse 7:

     Love bears all things paints the picture of a protective covering. “Love protects, shields, and conceals the weaknesses of others,” providing a “safe place for hurting people…where they can find unconditional love and support…while they get back on their feet.”

     Love doesn’t ignore wrongdoing and hide sinfulness but respects a person’s confidentiality and helps him or her heal.

     Love believes all things. In other words, the kind of love that reflects God’s love, “even in the middle of the worst time of someone’s life, you remember the best, celebrate the best, remind that person of the best, and believe the best.”

     As I read these words, I recalled friends who chose to help a young alcoholic mom as she worked on recovery. It wasn’t always easy. The addicted woman experienced relapses. There were disappointments and difficult conversations, but our friends never stopped believing in the mom’s sincere desire and potential. This story had a happy ending. The addicted mom is now a grandma with a deep faith and many years of sobriety. A great example of love that believes!

     Love hopes all things. “What does it mean that love always hopes?” Judah Smith asks. I love his answer: “It means that love holds on to eventual development. Love recognizes that where we are is not where we will always be. We are on a journey. We are works in progress.” (emphasis mine)

     My journey of faith has certainly had its ups and downs. Along the way, I’ve purposely taken wrong turns, knowing my choice wasn’t God honoring. Then, there were other times when I took a detour because of wrong teaching, my sincere misunderstanding, or pure ignorance. One of my favorite scriptures is Psalms 23:3 [The Lord, who is my shepherd] leads me in paths of righteousness…

     God has never stopped holding on to my “eventual development,” and I desire to extend that same type of love to those trying to figure out how to navigate this lifelong journey-of-faith.

     Love endures all things. Smith explains, “To endure means you don’t retaliate or reject…Love doesn’t write people off…Love is bigger than that…no matter what happens, God’s love is bigger.”

     My Spiritual Director questioned me recently about my most common response when I consider God’s love. I didn’t need to think about the answer. When I think about God’s love for me, my first response is always deep, deep gratitude for God’s unconditional love and patience with this granny. I’ve experienced Judah Smith’s concluding observation about love that endures all things:

“Grace has no gaps and love knows no limits.”

     I hope the past five posts have challenged your thoughts, as they have mine, about the kind of love that reflects God’s love.

May you be blessed with grace and love…

Sue Reeve

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