Today I wrote a post about mercy, and one of my commenters mentioned The Way of Love from 1 Corinthians. This too has been on my heart a lot lately.
You can read these Bible verses in the original form here: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
These verses are often repeated at weddings, but the 3 verses don't seem to get nearly as much attention as the last. I have personalized these verses for how they apply to my own life.
If I speak the words of the Bible and of wise godly bloggers without love I am just another noise in this loud world.
If I am blessed with understanding of the great mysteries the Bible speaks of, and understand Jesus' parables, and have Biblical training, and am full of faith, but have no love I have gained nothing.
If I give away the shirt off my back, a cup of cold water in his name, adopt orphans, and care for widows, but don't have love I gain absolutely nothing.
In all the things that love is, God is LOVE. Love never ends.
Consider this. God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. Is it possible that I use this statement to justify treating people in an unloving way?
I mean, if God in His love, accepted my while I was a sinner, will he not accept others as well? Is my sin less than the sins of those around me? I've heard others justify these feelings and even I myself have questioned "lifestyle sins", but isn't sinning a lifestyle we all live?
How then are we to judge? Because this says to me that I may have been a sinner, and I am now redeemed (which is true), but for some reason I am now living a "godlier" life because I know my saviour is watching which somehow makes me worthy of my salvation. I was saved because of Christ's love and the only reason I am any "better" than I was before is because I am seen through the eyes of Christ's perfect life, not because I am a better person. There is no one that is righteous, no not one. The ONLY thing that makes us righteous is Jesus. I'm not speaking of the small victories we have over the flesh that come by grace, but the actual righteousness credited to us by Jesus' perfect life and death. We are believing a lie, if we believe that after being saved we have become any more worthy of salvation, but I think that's what comes naturally. To believe that now that we are Christians our changed lives somehow make us worthy of our salvation or are even proof of our salvation.
After all, if someone can't come to Christ by faith alone, right where they are...gay, prostitute, drunk, angry, controlling, prideful, then how do any of us receive salvation? Lives in Christ are marked by changes, but these changes aren't produced on the outside and they take a lifetime to happen, but if we were to ever reach perfection then we would void our need for a saviour and Jesus would be nothing more than a first step, when indeed he is a last step.
Today, I am questioning where in my walk I began to believe that I was somehow worthy of God's love. I have never been, and will never be worthy by my own merit, and I will die a sinner in the flesh even though I am a saint in the spirit because of Christ.
What if God's overwhelming love for me has been replaced in my own life by pride in thinking that after salvation I became less of a sinner, or better than I was before.
Maybe progressive sanctification shouldn't be my goal. Maybe knowing God, being in a relationship with him, and loving Him should be what I strive for, while allowing Him to produce the sanctification in me. Because the truth is I can't make that happen anyway. It's only by grace that we overcome any issue in our life. Yet, I find it easier to try to fix myself, because wallowing in His grace seems scary, and makes me feel out of control!