A few weeks ago I felt like I went through a week of chastisement…not from my husband, but from God. He talked to me about several areas in my life, one of which was…LOVE. I read through 1 Corinthians chapter 13, what is commonly known as the love chapter. This chapter is familiar to me; I’ve read it countless times. However, this time was different. The first few verses seemed to come alive for me. I felt like I understood them, not just in my head, but in my heart as well. The Spanish language has two words that mean “to know”. The first, saber, means you know the facts on something, the data. Your head knows it. The other word is conocer. And this means you intimately know somebody or something; your heart knows them. For instance, I know (saber) about Antarctica but I don’t know (conocer) Antarctica. There are lots of people that know (saber) about God, but don’t know (conocer) Him as their Father and Friend. I felt like most of my life I had known (saber) the verses but never known (conocer) them.
I heard God tell me, “It doesn’t matter if you attend a million-member church, or wear designer clothes. If you don’t have love, then you have nothing.” It doesn’t matter if I am a supermom and can bake all kinds of goodies, home school seven children and keep a nice garden…if I don’t have love, than I have nothing. It doesn’t matter if I move half-way across the world to become a missionary and minister to the poor….if I don’t love, than I have nothing. It doesn’t matter if I am a pastor or an amazing speaker and people want to read my books or blogs…if I don’t have love, I have nothing. It doesn’t matter if I have a business, serve on several committees and have appointments every night of the week….if I don’t have love, than I have nothing. It doesn’t matter if I’m a worship leader or travel the nations and lead healing and deliverance teams…if I don’t have love, I have nothing. God was telling me that none of my efforts really matter if I don’t love or have love. Like the Bible says, if I know and understand all mysteries, but have not love, I have nothing. If I have prophetic powers and have faith so as to move mountains but have not love, I have nothing.
So of course I asked God, Well, what is love? And I only had to continue reading a few verses down to see that
Love is patient,
love is kind
love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude
Love does not insist on its own way
love is not irritable or resentful
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
Love never fails
God also reminded me of what 1 John chapter 4 says about love. Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. If we know God, then we love Him and He abides in us. But if we say we love God but hate our brother or sister, we are liars. So John was saying that we can believe in God and be saved, but still not love!
God showed me how I “hate” my brothers and sisters in my own life. Every time I gossip about somebody, talk behind their back or criticize them, I am not loving them. Every time I don’t give them the benefit of the doubt or am not patient with them, I am not loving them. Every time I am angry with somebody and don’t try to reconcile with them, but let my anger turn to bitterness or resentment, I am not loving them. Ouch!
I felt so convicted, and I realized that I have not fulfilled the greatest commandment…To Love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. “but God,” I said. “This seems so impossible. Loving people that seem so unlovable is so..so…hard!” and once again, God gave me the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew, “With God, all things are possible. Do you believe this?”
Indeed…do I truly believe this? Do I believe that God, the Creator of heaven and earth, can help me to love people unconditionally, no matter how many times they hurt me, criticize me, gossip about me, ignore me or make fun of me? I took a big swallow, croaked out a Yes! And took God’s hand. Suddenly, my view of the world changed…people are no longer nosy, abusive, critical, or liars. They are wounded, afraid and deceived, in need of a healing Savior. God sent His son Jesus to die for them, just like He died for me. And they are all God’s children.