Friday, May 3, 2013

What are we without love?

1 Corinthians 13: 4 – 8 (MSG) I'm bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, Doesn't have a swelled head, Doesn't force itself on others, Isn't always "me first," Doesn't fly off the handle, Doesn't keep score of the sins of others, Doesn't revel when others grovel, Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, Puts up with anything, Trusts God always, Always looks for the best, Never looks back, But keeps going to the end. Love never dies.
I recently read 1 Corinthians in the Message and for some reason, the verses spoke to me differently from the other translations of the Bible. Early in my Christian walk, I read a devotional by one of my favorite pastor/authors, Max Lucado. After reading his devotion I have never again look at or read the words of 1 Corinthians 13: 4 - 8 the same.
Before I get too far, I want to share the definition of the word "love" according to Nelson’s Compact Bible Dictionary.
Love – The highest esteem God has for His human children and the high regard which they, in turn, should have for Him and other people.
With this definition freshly in mind, I can go back and reread the verses again and my understanding of them takes on an entirely different meaning. 

“I am bankrupt without love.”

1 John 4:8 tells us that God is Love. So if we go back to the passage 1 Corinthians 13: 4 and replace the word “love” with God it reads

“I am bankrupt without God.”

Let's not stop there... take it one step further and make it personal, this time replace the word "I" with your first name:

Sheri is bankrupt without God.” 

Well, how true is that? I have or can do absolutely nothing without God.
Deeper still, if I follow the teaching from Max Lucado and continue to read these verses in 1 Corinthians 13 by replacing the word LOVE with my own name it reads like this
"Sheri never gives up.”
WHOA! Stopping there I had to do a little self-assessment. I’m not sure about you, but there have been times that I've given up. Feeling utterly defeated, I have thrown my hands up in the air a time or two and said “Forget this! I can’t do this anymore.” But wait – didn’t we just say that God is love? Knowing this I can read it with confidence
"God never gives up."
So there is another way I can read this verse. Wait. I think it's important here to remembered the words of Philippians 4:13 (NIV) “I can do all things through Christ, because He gives me strength.” So now, with that in mind let’s read the words one last time,
“Sheri, through Christ, never gives up.”
Ok, now that sounds better to me wouldn’t you agree?
May I encourage you today to read these verses in 1 Corinthians 13 the way Max Lucado encouraged me to read them through his devotion. You may find yourself looking at circumstances in your own life and with others in a completely different light.

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