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Love God as He Has Loved You (Quinquagesima - 50 Days to Easter)

[1 Corinthians 13:1-7] 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. 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.


Love God as He Has Loved You

“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.”

Love is all of that, brothers and sisters. But love is not unfaithful. Unfaithfulness to God is the opposite of love. Unfaithfulness to God is the opposite of love for your loved ones. The only true love for your loved ones is the love which loves God first. The only true love for man is the love which loves God more than man.

Love is patient and kind. But patience or kindness in itself is not love. We can love wrongly. We can love sinfully. Patience and kindness can be misdirected. And, worst of all, love for my dearest loved one – love for my own children – can become merely human love, and not the love of God. Love can be wrong. The only right love is the love that comes from God. The only right love in you is the love that loves God above all things.

Read again these few verses of our Epistle reading [1 Corinthians 13:1-13]. Very familiar words. But there is a verse, brothers, that you don’t notice. The eyes of your sinful nature make you skip over it. Which verse is it? Verse six: “Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.”

Truth here doesn’t mean not telling fibs. Truth here means God’s truth, His Word. ‘Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” You, even God’s people, have been so saturated with the world’s use of the word “love” that when you read the Bible you read the word ‘love’ in a worldly way.

But the world’s love isn’t the love in the Bible. The world does rejoice in wrongdoing. And the world commands that you rejoice in wrongdoing too. Or, at least, the world demands that you shake hands with it.

Love does not rejoice – it is not happy – with wrongdoing. True love is happy with the truth of God’s Word. That’s what makes you happy, if you love with God’s love.

The world’s definition of love is simply the toleration of wrongs. Really, the world’s demand of love is that you love what God forbids – what God’s Word teaches against. That love isn’t from God. That love isn’t love for you loved ones. You cannot love someone while shaking hands with their wrongdoing. Instead, as the Bible says, you must “speak the Truth in love.” [Ephesians 4:15]

“Patient and kind, do not envy or boast, do not be rude or arrogant” while speaking the Truth, while rejoicing in the Truth. But again, according to verse six, going along with wrongdoing cannot be true love. We must be speaking and keeping the Truth of God’s Word – His gospel and His commands – in order for love to be love.

Today’s Epistle reading is about true love. And in today’s Gospel reading we see the true love of Jesus. And we will learn today that love means to love the Lord with the very intensity with which He has loved us. Only pure, singular, unwavering love for God, as He has loved us, can foster effective love for our loved ones.

Before we talk about what Jesus has done for us, I want to first talk about what Jesus Himself has said to us about love. When Jesus was asked, “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”, He responded, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind… and with all your strength. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” [Matthew 22:37-39; Luke 10:27]

The second depends on the first. Only love which keeps the first command, to love God with all heart, soul, mind, and strength – only that love truly keeps the second command.

Relationships in life have varying degrees of greatness. Father, mother, sister, son, or daughter – these are among the greatest. Jesus teaches us, though, the surprising news that there is one greater - the relationship between creature and Creator, between you and your Lord. That is more than family. More than friends.

Hear Christ’s words. Jesus said this: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” [Matthew 10:37]

Ask yourselves, can you love your loved ones best if you first render yourselves unworthy of Christ by not loving Him first? “Whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” When you fail to love the Lord first you fail to love the one who so loves them and who can truly help them.

What if we are forced to choose between the Lord and our loved ones? We choose the Lord. Jesus told us ahead of time that these divisions would happen and that we would have to choose Him. Let me now read to you the full verse of what I just read. Jesus said: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person's enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” [Matthew 10:34-38]

We should not be surprised that we lose some of our loved ones to wrongdoing. But don’t let Jesus lose you too! Don’t follow even your children away from Jesus. Instead, love Him with all your strength and rejoice in the Truth. Love Jesus with the love with which He has loved you. Full love.

What did Jesus do for you? We hear it in our Gospel lesson today: And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” [Luke 18:31-33]

This is what Jesus did for you. This is what Jesus did for me, unworthy though I am. He was spit upon, mocked, hated, tortured, flogged, and killed. Nails through hands and feet. Forsaken. Dead. Spear pierced. Jesus loved you with all His heart, all His mind, all His soul, and all His strength.

This dying, agonizing love of Jesus saved us from our wrongdoing. Saved us from our sin. Saved us from our unfaithfulness and transforms us to be faithful. He is “Jesus”, so named because He is God “who saves His people from their sins” [Matthew 1:21]. He has saved us wretched sinners from our wrongdoings – never to tolerate our wrongs – never to shake hands with our wrongs – but to save us from our wrongs. That is love. That is the love with which you have been loved. That is the love with which you are to love each other.

Love Jesus with the love with which He loved you. Love your loved ones with this transforming love with which He has loved them. Love truly. Do not rejoice in wrongdoing but live and speak the truth in love. Amen.

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