Am I patient? Am I kind? Do I envy or boast? Am I arrogant, rude, self-seeking, irritable? Do I keep a record of wrongs?
In the Bible, Paul says these are some ways to evaluate if we’re truly loving. If I’m honest, I fail the “test” of this list every day in some way. You probably do too. What, then, are we to do about this? Surely all of us desire to be loving, don’t we? To live in God’s love and share it with others?
But what if the point of Paul’s description is not a test, or even about us? What if, instead, the whole point of the love passage, indeed the entirety of scripture and the gospel, is God’s love for us? What if it’s a giant recognition that we cannot, in fact, love like this? Not fully. Not perfectly. And therefore can never, in this life, “live up” to these standards?
I think the point is this: our love will never be enough. We are in desperate need of the one and only perfect love – expressed throughout history by the Creator of the universe in his love for us – and most fully in the person of Jesus Christ who demonstrated his love in that he died to close this gap. He died because our love will never be enough to make us right with God, no matter how good we are. And the gap is real.
Yet, “the Lord our God is a compassionate God” and “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his one and only Son into the world so that we might live through him. Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
God, help us to love one another today. Remind us that it will always be you, and your great love for us, which will fuel and make this possible. Thank you for loving us.
Grace and Peace,