by Max Lucado
Isn’t it good to know that even when we don’t love with a perfect love, he does? God always nourishes what is right. He always applauds what is right. He has never done wrong, led one person to do wrong, or rejoiced when anyone did wrong. For he is love, and love “does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6 NASB).
God passes the test of 1 Corinthians 13:6. Well, he should; he drafted it.
So where does this leave us? Perhaps with a trio of reminders. When it comes to love:
Until love is stirred, let God’s love be enough for you. There are seasons when God allows us to feel the frailty of human love so we’ll appreciate the strength of his love. Didn’t he do this with David? Saul turned on him. Michal, his wife, betrayed him. Jonathan and Samuel were David’s friends, but they couldn’t follow him into the wilderness. Betrayal and circumstances left David alone. Alone with God. And, as David discovered, God was enough. David wrote these words in a desert: “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.… My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods” (Ps. 63:3, 5 NIV).
What if it’s too late? Specifically, what if you’re married to someone you don’t love—or who doesn’t love you? Many choose to leave. That may be the step you take. But if it is, take at least a thousand others first. And bathe every one of those steps in prayer. Love is a fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to help you love as he loves. “God has given us the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with his love” (Rom. 5:5 CEV). Ask everyone you know to pray for you. Your friends. Your family. Your church leaders. Get your name on every prayer list available. And, most of all, pray for and, if possible, with your spouse. Ask the same God who raised the dead to resurrect the embers of your love.
Be grateful for those who love you. Be grateful for those who have encouraged you to do what is right and applauded when you did. Do you have people like that in your world? If so, you are doubly blessed. Be grateful for them. And be grateful for your Father in heaven.
So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech.
1 Peter 2:1 (New Living Translation)
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.
1 Peter 2:1 (New International Version)
So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk.
1 Peter 2:1 (The Message)
Better to be patient than powerful;
better to have self-control than to conquer a city.
Proverbs 16:32 (New Living Translation)
Better a patient man than a warrior,
a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.
Proverbs 16:32 (New International Version)
Moderation is better than muscle,
self-control better than political power.
Proverbs 16:32 (The Message)
At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep,
For you, God, have put my life back together.
Psalm 4:8 (The Message)
I will lie down and sleep in peace,
for you alone, O LORD,
make me dwell in safety.
Psalm 4:8 (New International Version)
In peace I will lie down and sleep,
for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.
Psalm 4:8 (New Living Translation)
So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (New Living Translation)
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (New King James Version)
With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.
1 Corinthians 15:58 (The Message)
The Spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing. And the very words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
John 6:63 (New Living Translation)
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.
John 6:63 (New International Version)
The Spirit can make life. Sheer muscle and willpower don’t make anything happen. Every word I’ve spoken to you is a Spirit-word, and so it is life-making.
John 6:63 (The Message)
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4 (NIV)
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Being a pastor is one of the toughest jobs on the planet; but John, the disciple of love, says it can also be the most joyful: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4 NIV).
Spiritual leaders must correctly teach God’s Word, confront false teaching before it spreads, proclaim the gospel to non-believers, pray for all people (including you and your family), and train and appoint leaders; and they must do this all while serving as an example of what it looks like when you’re maturing as a Jesus-one (see 1 and 2 Timothy; Titus).
Accordingly, the Apostle Paul says we should respect our spiritual leaders, overwhelming them with appreciation: “Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work” (1 Thessalonians 5:13 NIV).
Disguised as the generic writer of Hebrews, Paul also says, “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17 NIV).
You can make a big deal about obeying and submitting, but keep in mind that our overarching objective is to become one with Christ, who is one with the Father. In other words, we want our hearts and minds to line up with God’s heart and mind. We submit to God’s heart and mind, and we show our love for him when we obey him.
If a spiritual leader is walking toward oneness with Jesus, who is already at one with the Father, then it’s perfectly reasonable for us to move toward that same oneness with Jesus, meaning we swing into alignment behind our pastor.
From this angle, you can see the enormous responsibility a pastor has to keep in line with God and to encourage you to keep in line.
We live in the nasty now-and-now, so it’s all too easy, even for spiritual leaders, to slip into arguments over who gets to sit at God’s right hand when we all should be outdoing one another in heartfelt, humble service to each other (Matthews 20:20-28).
Pray for your spiritual leaders today, that they continue to walk in the truth, and let them know in some way that you want to bring them joy by walking in the truth with them (3 John 1:4 NIV).