Without Love

This week I was reminded once again that taking a strong covenant stand requires great love. It all began last Christmas when it seemed that our daughter’s temporarily away husband might end up being alone for Christmas. We told her he was welcome to join our family if that was okay with her and if he wanted to.

As it turned out he had other plans, but the incident brought out heated reaction from many who heard we had been willing to invite him. We understand this reaction as this has been a journey of frequent forgiveness for us. It would be so easy to take up an offense for our daughter and, on many occasions, I have. Every time, though, the Holy Spirit has convicted me of my hardening heart and has always brought me to a place of forgiveness and love. Michael and I truly love him and pray for the day when their family will be reunited and healed.

This week in talking with a friend, we were reminded again of how bitter one can become against the spouse who wounds our child. Our friend was angry, bitter and had nothing good to say about his daughter’s “ex”. He begrudged him any good thing and wanted him to suffer for being an unfaithful spouse and divorcing his wife. We realized this man’s words and actions are totally devoid of love and forgiveness. Without love a covenant stand just becomes harsh and legalistic.

1 Corinthians 13 is a challenge to all of us who stand firmly for a marriage covenant.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (My preaching is harsh and irritating.) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (Standing in faith without love is useless.)  If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (No matter how much I give up or suffer, without love it is empty.)

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (Not walking in love can make me proud of being the better person.) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (Love compels me to turn to Jesus, not the ears of another when I have been wronged.) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (Love keeps me from getting even and empowers me to forgive.)

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (What I know and what I understand will change, but God’s love is constant.) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. (Children see their own needs first. The mature can place the needs of others first.)  For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (God is working strongly on my behalf even though I cannot always see it.)

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (True agape love can only come from God. It far surpasses our human ability to love and is the kind of love that transforms hearts, my own being the first one that is changed.) Love, Marilyn

Peter and the Sword

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus faced His upcoming sacrifice for our sins. He knew what lay ahead and asked His disciples to pray with Him, but they were tired and had eaten a big meal so they fell asleep. There in the garden alone Jesus spoke with His Father, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

Scripture tells us that an angel was sent to strengthen Him. In His agony  His sweat fell as drops of blood. Something powerfully supernatural was happening in that garden, but those who loved Jesus missed it because they were “doing their own thing”.

Jesus went to wake them and said, Are you still sleeping and resting?… Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.” And then a great multitude arrived to take Jesus. There were people with swords and clubs as well as a large number of Roman soldiers fully armed. They came in the flesh to take One who walked in the Spirit.

So Peter, who was now awake, decided he needed to do something to save Jesus. Facing a huge crowd of heavily armed people, He grabbed a sword and struck a servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Not only did he not accomplish anything positive, but he was now in big trouble. Not only had he taken a Roman soldier’s sword, but he had harmed a servant of the high priest. At the very least he was facing imprisonment, at the worst execution.

Sometimes when we are standing we can be a bit like Peter. God is moving in the spirit realm, but we do not see it. Then, in a moment of desperation, we take matters into our own hands and do something foolish. We try to manipulate circumstances or people. We do or say things we immediately regret. In most cases, we make matters worse, not better.

But Jesus, in the midst of all He was dealing with at that moment, reached down and healed the ear of the servant. He saved Peter from the consequences of his actions. And then He said to him, “Put your sword into the sheath. Shall I not drink the cup which My Father has given Me?”

In other words, God has a plan and your actions are not part of it. Put away your ways of the flesh.

Thank heaven we have a Savior who can bring healing to the things we have said or done in the flesh. On our own we are no more able to bring healing to our marriage than Peter was able to defend Jesus again a raging crowd. Our small fleshly response is so inadequate for the problems we face.

Lord, help us to keep our eyes on You and what You are doing in our life and in that of our spouse. The next time we are tempted to take matters into our own hands, may we remember Peter and the sword. Let us not feel we need to help You accomplish what You are doing. Love, Marilyn

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord… Jeremiah 29:11