Love

I have said the words
__“I love you”
__to You and to my neighbor—
but do I really love?
Do I really put first
__others or self?
Am I patient and kind?
Or am I jealous, proud, ugly,
__irritable, bitter?
Have I yet learned
__not to be happy about injustice
__but to stand firmly with truth,
__to cover a multitude of sins,
__in hope and faith
__to give others the benefit of all doubt,
__to willingly endure suffering?
Lord, You know how short of such love
__my feeble love now falls.
You know too
__that it is because You first loved me
__that I love at all
__and that I want to love
__as I have been loved.
Fan the flickering flame
__in my heart
__so that in all I do
__I may reflect
__the measureless, endless,
__unspeakable love
__of Jesus Christ,
______________in Whose Name I pray,
_____________________Amen.

True Love

Have you ever noticed how closely love and the Holy Spirit are connected in the Bible?

“Can’t say that I have.”

Well, love is the first piece of fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22. Some even think it’s the basic quality from which the other items listed flow.

“Of course, now that you mention it, I remember it as the first fruit of the Spirit.

And, sometime, check out Colossians 1:8 where, in passing, Paul mentions “your love by the Spirit.”

“What do you think that means?”

Much the same as the longer reference in Romans 5:5 where Paul wrote,

God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us.

Before regeneration (of which the pouring is a picture) no one is capable of expressing God-like or God-pleasing love. Others may  love with a sort of ersatz love, but the vertical dimension is totally missing from it.

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Then and Now

Tertullian tells us that the one thing that impressed the pagans in the early days of Christianity was how believers loved one another.

Is this factor still as impressive today? If not, why not?

On the other hand, is it even fair to ask these questions? After centuries of spreading the faith, and the leavening effect for good that it has had on those civilizations it has influenced, would the contrast be as great as in ancient times?

Or, on the other hand, has the major difference in our times and theirs only been in the technological advances that have occurred, so that the characteristic of Christian love still ought to stand out among modern pagans?

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True Love

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity, equal to the other Persons in the Godhead. But, like the Father Who planned all things, and the Son Who came to redeem, the Spirit has His own special functions as well. One of those is to enable Christians to love.

Seldom do you hear about this all-important function. Yet, it could not be written more plainly on the pages of the Bible. And it could not be more important. Here are Paul’s words on the subject:

We need not be ashamed of hope because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who was given to us.
Romans 5:5

It is only through the Spirit’s power to do so that we can fulfill the two great commandments, to love God and our neighbor. Sure, the world thinks that it knows what love is all about. Hollywood, magazines, TV sitcoms, and the like thrive on the subject. But none of them has the slightest idea of what Paul was talking about.

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