Why is Love so Hard?

It seems appropriate to write about love over these next couple of weeks as we approach Valentine's Day. Click on the link and you will see a few interesting facts about this day that comes around every February 14th. How do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Or maybe a better question to ask is , DO you celebrate Valentine's Day?

When I was a young women in my teens and early twenties, I was like anyone. I wanted to be noticed and thought of, especially on the day that had become a symbol of love and romance. We are creatures who desire relationships, whether the romantic kind or those that are purely platonic. We want to feel special to someone. We want to be remembered on those special occasions like birthdays and we want to feel that we have value. 

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Pixabay

Last week I touched on the idea of, The Real Romance, being the one we have with the Almighty Creator. He alone, knows our deepest fears, hurts and desires. As much as our significant others care for us, they cannot fully know us like God does. That being said, this week, I wanted to look at love from our perspective. I don't know about you, but I think real love is hard!

If you are a Christ follower, then you are probably familiar with I Corinthians 13. This small chapter in the New Testament has become the defining essay on love. The Bible is full of passages and verses talking about love, from the love of God, to the love of man and all the complications in between. I'd like to break down the 13 verses in this passage into bite sized chunks and chew on them for a bit. 

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.
— 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NASB)

This letter to the church at Corinth was written by the Apostle Paul. He begins this chapter with a series of actions that, during the time, were probably looked at as special manifestations of faith. Speaking in tongues, prophecy and knowledge, as well as sacrifice of possessions and self, were all looked at as being important actions for Christians to participate in. I am sure, that just as we look at people in our church who give large amounts of money, lead the worship team, work with children, evangelize or preach, as people who are doing good things for the sake of the gospel, the Christians in Paul's time felt similarly towards those who were visibly living out their faith. 

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Pixabay

However, Paul adds a condition to each of the actions he has mentioned. Without love, every one of them is meaningless. That seems pretty harsh doesn't it. I mean, we all do things because it is expected, or because it has to be done. Does that mean, when I get to heaven, those things I did out of obligation or pressure will burn up in the fires of judgment? Let's look at the next section.

4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,
5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,
6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
— ! Corinthians 13:4-7 (NASB)

Paul goes on to give these amazing characteristics of love: patient, kind, not jealous....This list should certainly make us reexamine whether our love is up to this "gold" standard put forth in the scriptures. We can't really be expected to love others in this way, can we? I mean, who hasn't acted in an unbecoming way. I literally threw things when I got mad, when my children were younger. Not a very becoming example of love. When my spouse and I were at odds it was usually because we were seeking our own. With divorce rampant in our country the characteristic of love enduring all things, hardly seems a reality. 

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Pixabay

8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part;
10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
— I Corinthians 13:8-13 (NASB)

As we read on we are suddenly faced with the reality that everything we do is imperfect. The gifts that we have been given will cease. The knowledge that we have will be done away. It also tells us that we don't know everything there is to know. It goes on to say, "...but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away...." This phrase tells me two things. The first is that this life we are now living is not perfect. Ta, da! I bet you didn't know that (insert sarcasm here). The second is that the perfect is coming. Only Christ is perfect and it is only through Him and His shed blood that we enter into that ability to be perfect. 

Paul goes on to make two analogies:

1. The child becomes a man (or woman).

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

For those of you who have raised or are raising children, you get this. Children think on a different plain than adults do. They speak differently, think differently and reason differently. When we become adults we are expected to behave like adults, not children. That doesn't mean we don't get in touch with our inner child once in a while. This is especially important when you have grandchildren! 

2. The mirror versus reality.

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

In this second analogy Paul talks about our reflection in a mirror as that which is dim. The reflection is not our real self, it is only an image of ourselves. A reflection is not the real deal. 

These two analogies remind us that we are just children and we don't know everything. Only God knows all. Only God is perfect. It doesn't matter how much we are doing. It doesn't matter what grandiose plans we have. If we are doing these things without the love of God, they are meaningless.

Why is love hard? Because we are trying to do it by reasoning as a child, "If I do this, I'll score points with God." We are looking in a dim mirror and thinking, "I look pretty darn good!" That knowledge and that reasoning are part of what make love hard. Our love is selfish and distorted. 

Only God's love is perfect. It is only by walking with Him in a close personal relationship that we will be able to live a life of true, selfless love. That is the love that will count for eternity.  

Mulling it Over: Part 8 - Ephesians 6:17

Today I will be looking at the 5th piece of armor that Paul mentions in Ephesians 6:10-18. Last time we mulled over the shield of faith. Verse 17 actually covers two pieces of armor, but we will look at them one at a time.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
— Ephesians 6:17 (NASB)
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Pixabay

Piece #5 - The Helmet of Salvation

The galea is another name for the Roman helmet. Helmets were worn as protection for the head from as far back as mankind began fighting wars. Today, helmets are worn, not only by soldiers but by motorcycle riders, bike riders, football players and other sports enthusiasts. The head is very important and contains the control center for our whole body. 

When a person is determined to be brain dead, whether by illness or injury, the brain is no longer showing any life activity. The body will follow the direction of the brain and without artificial support will die. Obviously, keeping the brain safe and the head uninjured was and still is of prime importance when fighting a battle. 

Why is it that salvation is so important to our heads as protection? Since the brain controls and processes all incoming and outgoing information, I would like to look at three areas the helmet of salvation protects.

1. Spiritual

We are spiritual beings. God created us, not only to be physical, but to be spiritual. The spiritual part of us becomes fully formed and understood when we accept the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. 

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Pixabay

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.
— 1 Corinthians 2:12-13 (NASB)

Salvation enables us to see with our spiritual eyes.

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
— Ephesians 1:18 (NASB)

It is through the spirit that we are connected to God the Father, through Jesus Christ. If we toss out the helmet of salvation our thinking will become skewed and we will no longer have spiritual understanding. 

Is it any wonder that there is so much confusion and misunderstanding in our world today? Without salvation through Jesus Christ we do not have His wisdom and clarity, because we do not have His spirit.

2. Mental

I am sure you have heard of Joyce Meyers, Battlefield of the Mind. In her typical straight forward way, Joyce explains that it is in our minds the battle rages. The battle of truth versus falsehood, good versus evil, right versus wrong. As I said earlier, the mind controls our bodies, not only in a physical cellular way, but in a thought processing sort of way. 

Our relationship with Jesus affects how our minds work and what we think. If we adhere to truth, acknowledging that Christ is Lord and reading His word, our minds will try to combat the lies that the world constantly throws at us. If we saturate ourselves in the gospel message our minds will find rest, peace and freedom from mental chaos. 

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull  

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull 

Speaking from personal experience, I have had to return over and over to certain scriptures because my mind does not naturally want to accept truth. The word says that God loves me, sometimes I still question that. Belief in the person and work of Jesus has given me worth, but even in my 50's I still struggle with my value. The mind can be easily led astray, thus the importance of the helmet of salvation.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life
— John 3:16 (NASB)

3. Emotional

Once again, we know that the brain is the command  center for controlling emotions as well as physical and mental capacities. Wearing the helmet of salvation enables our mind to keep our emotions in check. Don't get me wrong, I am not expecting us to be emotionless creatures. God created us with the capacity to feel. However, only feeling and not thinking can be detrimental to our health and even dangerous. 

Think about the range of emotions you can experience in one week, or for that matter in one day. You might wake up feeling peaceful, but within five minutes when the kids are running late or the baby is crying and you can't find your car keys, your emotions tend to go from peaceful to stressed out. Throw in traffic, a bad day at work and a fight with your spouse and your emotions can literally run the gambit from peaceful to stressed, to sad to angry. 

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Pixabay

Knowing Jesus as Lord and immersing ourselves in His word can give us the ability to temper our emotions, even the ability to bring every situation to Him and rely on Him for the grace to get through each difficulty. Just think about the scriptures that address emotion.

Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
— Ephesians 4:26 (NASB)
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
— Philippians 4:6 (NASB)
Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
— Isaiah 41:10 (NASB)
Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.
— Psalm 42:5 (NASB)
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
— Philippians 4:4 (NASB)
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The helmet of salvation is a key piece of armor that we should never forget to put on. You might say that once I am saved I don't need to worry about the helmet it is always on my head. However, I do think that we can become so preoccupied by all the other hats we wear, that we forget the helmet is there, always able to protect us.

The helmet of salvation is key to protecting our thinking. Out relationship with Christ protects us spiritually, mentally and emotionally. I hope you own this important piece of armor.

Have a great week!