And these three things remain: trust steadily in God (faith), hope unswervingly (hope), and love extravagantly (love). But the best and GREATEST of these is LOVE. (1 Corinthians 13:13)
My childhood years from around the time I was 7 until I was 11 are my fondest memories. We lived in California and I had two of the most precious neighborhood friends. We had such fun together riding bikes, playing various games in the park, playing tennis, going swimming, having picnics, playing baseball and street hockey, rollerskating on the volleyball court slab...we had lots of special games we would play, and we also enjoyed creating things together--especially cookies! One day, we decided to try a cookie recipe that was pretty involved, but it sounded really interesting and delicious.
We read the recipe and got out all of the ingredients, laying each of them out on the table. One by one, we measured, poured, and mixed. As we rolled out the dough, we noticed it wasn't sticking together very well, but since we had never made cookies like this before, we just assumed that it was normal. After all of our hard work, we pulled the cookies out of the oven, let them cool, and carefully removed them from the pan. With much excitement, we both took a big bite...only to want to spit it out immediately, because they did NOT taste good at ALL!
We were so confused! We had read the directions, we had laid the ingredients out, and we had spent so much time and energy preparing these. We sifted the flour, we cracked the eggs, we measured the sugar, we spooned out the vanilla, we poured the...MILK! We suddenly both realized that we had somehow failed to get the milk from the table into the actual bowl of cookie batter. We had all of the other ingredients there, but because of forgetting just one, all of our time and energy was wasted.
In 1 Corinthians, we read that there are three things that remain after everything else is said and done: faith, hope, and love, but that the GREATEST out of ALL of those things is love.
I can have faith in God, I can put my hope and trust in Him, and I can share who He is with others, but the Bible says that if my main motivation isn't love, then all of my efforts are in vain.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (1 John 4:7-11)
I feel like I fail at this a hundred times a day! When I get frustrated at my kids for not listening to me, when we're running late and I let my stress alter my mood, when I respond harshly to my husband, when my heart has been hurt by someone and I allow that to influence my speech about them...I could list so.many.examples of ways I extinguish the love from my actions. And could it be the reason it's difficult for me to find love for my actions is because I'm not spending time drawing it from Love itself--God? If I truly believe that Jesus loves me, then I can't help but share that and show that to others. This is something I so desire to work on, to pause before I respond and say, "Am I being patient? Is that kind? Am I looking out for myself or for others? Am I harboring bitterness towards that person?" And why? Because "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails..." (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
I may fail at showing love, but He does not, because it's Who He is. May I be so consumed with my Jesus that I don't just set Him out and forget about Him amidst everything else, but truly pour Him out into all I do...