“Ouch!” Those Words hurt.
Have you ever felt that way in Church?
We’ll consider love today, as in:
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13)
If you receive these Words in faith, you cannot help but be convicted – “ouch!”
“That’s what I’m supposed to be? I’m not that way! That is not a good description of me, Pastor.”
You’re guided by these words, too, of course! These words will help you make sense of who you are to be and what you are to do with those around you, but they will still hurt.
That’s good! Let them, so that you can understand that the greatest love story ever told – Jesus going to Jerusalem to be crucified and raised for you – all that much more.
So, some more “ouch!”
God is love. He gets to define love. Yet, we live in a world that thinks it can define love without God.
So, for example, the world calls us to celebrate many sins that do not keep the marriage bed pure because “they’re in love – those two unmarried people, those two men, those two women.”
But, love does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. God, who is love, defines what is good, true and beautiful, while our hearts and flesh don’t always know what is best for us.
And we know that if the world is tempted to define love, then we too are tempted to define love because we have something very much in common with the world: we’re sinful.
“Love doesn’t insist on its own way, then how am I going to get my way?”
“Love isn’t irritable, but I’m grumpy because you’re making me grumpy.”
“Love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, so then how am I going to know how long I should be mad at you or how much better I am than you?”
“Love doesn’t boast, then how is everyone going to know how awesome I am?”
But the real ouch doesn’t come until God’s Word reveals that our lack of love, our desire and willful changing of God’s definition of love, deserves God’s wrath and temporal and eternal punishment – our life should be hurting now! and we should be hurting eternally because of our rebellion. Everyone say, “ouch!”
There’s also within the “ouch! I’m not that way” some of an “O, I see. I should be that way! I want to be that way!” As Christians, who know of God’s love for us, we begin to be guided and see amazing wisdom in the Word of God.
One quality keeps popping up with Paul’s description of love: patience.
4 Love is patient…7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Cor. 13)
You benefit greatly from the people in your life that are patient with you. You can be hard to bear with sometimes – critical comments, short temper, annoying habits, right?
I’m thankful for those that are patient with me. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Be patient. Endure. Bear. Don’t expect immediate and instant results. In fact, commend all results to God. Love believes and hope in God and His promises.
Be patient. Endure. Bear. That might make it harder for you, but it’s a wonderful gift to them!
Be patient. Endure. Bear. Don’t rely on your feelings, which are high and low. Instead, cling to God’s Word and love in action, keep loving in action, Scripture’s definition of love is not feeling, but action, being patient, being kind, “don’t let the sun go down on your anger” (Eph. 4:26),“love covers a multitude of sins” and “7See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. 8 You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.” (James 5)
There’s wisdom in this – “O, I see!”
But in this, “OOooooh, I see!” you also have an “ouch!” Even if it makes sense, even if you know its wisdom, and even if it’s said by a smiling pastor. The Law will always accuse until the resurrection.
The “ouches” and “Ooo, I see’s” lead you to make this very important confession, “O, I see I need Jesus and His love.”
Hear again of the love of your Jesus:
“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)
He received the “ouch” that our sin deserved. On the cross, the pure love of Jesus confronted all our hatred, bitterness, selfishness, lust, boastings and grumpiness.
He received in Himself all the times we knew what God’s love called us to do and instead of saying, “Oooo, I see!” we said “I’m going to do it anyway.”
This Lent and all the Church’s lent’s emphasize Jesus’ song of love. “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful. Slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He is patient. He bore our sin. He endured our shame. He didn’t rejoice in wrongdoing but paid the penalty for our wrongdoing.
In this, the center of all history, in the body of Jesus – Son of God and Son of Mary – He received your “ouch!” so that by His stripes, you are healed!
Love does not keep a record of wrongs. God doesn’t count your sins against you. “In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses” (2 Cor. 5:19); “blessed is the man whom the Lord will not count His sin” (Romans 4:8). But instead, the faith God has given you through His Word is “counted as righteousness” (Romans 4:5).
All this gives us a very different reaction to word “love” – that is God’s love for us that no one and nothing can separate us from – “Ah! Sweet relief” As we receive the sweet relief, God begins to work in us again a life of love in patience, kindness, bearing all things, believing and hoping in God’s Word, enduring all things for the ones that need our love. God doesn’t need your love. Your neighbor needs your love.
We never confuse God’s love, which is perfect for us and bring sweet relief, with our love which is just beginning and will still bring the “ouch” of failure. “Ooo, I see!”
God’s love will take us to heaven. Until then, His love brings Him down to you today to give you a taste of the “Ahhh! Sweet relief!” that you will have when your love too will be perfect in the resurrection. Amen.