Love is patient…kind…does not envy…does not boast…is not proud…is not rude…is not self seeking…is not easily angered…keeps no record of wrongs…does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth…protects…trusts…hopes…perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Is Paul describing the heart of God or an ideal for the believer? The answer is yes on both counts. One implies the other. It’s inconceivable that God would redeem those whom He had made in His image and not ask for their hearts to be consistent with His character. A solid principle of biblical discipleship is that whatever is of God’s character is to be of the believer’s. We are to be like Him.
Jesus, the incarnate God who saves us, fits the description of this passage perfectly. He came to model the character of God for us, and then He sent His own Spirit to live within us. The goal of Christian discipleship is to be conformed to His image. And if we wanted a good summary of what His image entails, this is it. This kind of love, in a nutshell, is discipleship.
The new community in Christ – this new creation that was born out of His blood and resurrection – is to be marked by these distinctive characteristics. Real love – not the sentimental kind of love the world preaches, the kind that never confronts or challenges – is to be the hallmark of Christian community. We are known as His disciples by whether we have His kind of love.
Christian love doesn’t begin with a focus on others. It begins with a focus on God. Meditating on His deep, sacrificial love to understand His heart is the key to being able to love others in the fellowship. Only His Spirit can give that kind of understanding and fill us with His kind of love.
Ask for that today. Ask for the Spirit to show you His love, fill you with it, and enable you to live it and show it to others. It’s a prayer He’s certain to answer – with all His heart.
Adapted from a devotional by Chris Tiegreen from his book, ‘Wonder of the Cross Devotional’