THE PERFECTION OF LOVE
Love never brings fear, for fear is always related to punishment. But love’s perfection drives the fear of punishment far from our hearts. Whoever walks constantly afraid of punishment has not reached love’s perfection. 1 John 4:18
I must admit, I do not like being punished. If fear and punishment are walking hand in hand, I certainly do not want to be anywhere near them. However, it seems from time to time I do choose to walk with them.
Growing up, this scripture in Psalms was repeated in our home often. It goes like this:
‘What delight comes to the one who follows God’s ways! He won’t walk in step with the wicked, nor share the sinner’s way, nor be found sitting in the scorner’s seat.’ Psalms 1:1
This verse in Psalms reminds me of “who am I walking with?” Who am I choosing to spend my time with? Do I choose convenience or do I choose character building? Convenience is easy. Convenience is what I want but it’s obviously not the best for me.
Convenience is the drive thru at fast food restaurants but doing that every day and every meal will kill me. Instead, I must choose character. If I want to beat this idea of “fear of punishment,” I must go after it head on.
We are the sum average of the five people closest to us. If you show me your friends, I’ll show you your future. These are the daily reminders I must hold onto if I want to master my own life.
If I want to run after this idea of “perfected love,” I must do the daily work to move closer to it. If I want to eliminate the “fear of punishment,” I must learn to love. This basically means, fear and love cannot be friends. If I am living in fear, I am not living in love. And, if I am living in love, I’m certainly not living in fear.
So, what are some ways to live more in love? That’s the question I am asking myself today. What are incubators of love?
‘Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else .
Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.
Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten. ‘ 1 Corinthians 13:4–8
This passage of 1 Corinthians is most certainly a daily mantra for any human being. I mean, look at this thing, it’s like a place of nirvana. It’s everything I would ever dream to be. It’s everything I’m not but hope to be. I love it. It’s so inspiring. It’s motivating.
Even now, I’m re-reading this passage over and over. It’s a blueprint for my day, for this season and for my life. The problem I have with this passage is, how do I activate this daily? How can I perfect this kind of love?
My answer is consistency.
Perfected love is like anything, it’s practice, it’s diligence, it’s faith. I use the word “faith” here because I have to. There is no way on planet Earth I can activate this type of love every day. I certainly can’t do it without the help of Jesus. I know this enough about me. I’m just not that good, not that gifted, not that thoughtful. I need all of Jesus to march down this road.
If you want to know what love is and how to perfect it — 1 Corinthians is the blueprint. The hard part for me and probably most of us is making it happen each and every day.
For me, perfected love is moving one step closer to it. If it takes one bite at a time to eat an elephant, I’d say the same goes for perfected love. It is a huge feat and one that takes a lifetime. So today, I choose to take a bite.
I’m taking a bite of being more patient. I’m taking a bite of humility and “never giving up.” Everything in 1 Corinthians — I’m taking a bite. It may seem like a lot but who doesn’t love a 12 course tasting menu.
This is my menu today. I’m choosing perfected love. I’m choosing to take a bite into each and every course. I’m choosing the path of perfected love today. It may seem impossible and probably is. However, if Jesus is with me, I might as well give it a go. What do I have to lose?