For the love of Christ constrains us.
, by Shanna Duke
Love is such an extensive theme! Something we all long for—whether from father, mother, or some other source such as friends... Something that we give (shown by our actions) to those we hold dear to our hearts. Something that God bestowed on us through the gift of His only begotten Son and then let us be partakers of in this mystery of the gospel--"Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). Christ’s love is a concept to be studied throughout eternity!
One aspect of true love that has impacted me the most though, is contemplating the power of love. Love is not just an airy-fairy thought or idea. Not just an aimless concept, not just a feeling or an infatuation. To me, if a principle or a doctrine doesn't help me heavenward; doesn't change me more into the image of God (like He made us to be), there is no point holding onto it... Love is not in that category.
Principle based love holds the power to build society—it helps us esteem others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3). Love is the foundation of life, "...for God is love" (1 John 4:8). He gave life to our first parents. After they forsook God's ways, losing the life they had, He sent His Son to bring "life, and that they might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
Some time back, as I saw another slight glimpse of the power love can and would have in my life if it was applied, I wrote down a list of what we have been directly promised it can do:
"...Love covereth all sins...Love worketh no ill to his neighbour...Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails...For the love of Christ constraineth us..." (Pro 10:12; Rom 13:10; 1 Cor 13:4-8; 2 Cor 5:14).“
As Jesus stood on trial before Caiaphas the high priest, false accusations were thrown against Him. Jesus could have defended Himself, and very easily uncovered shortcomings of the Jews as a nation and as individuals. But He didn’t. Love covered those sins. Love didn’t put their sins out on open display.
When a neighbour—implying someone close to us (in heart or in person)—does something annoying, perhaps offensive, love does not seek to make our thoughts known and “make them pay”. It works no ill.
Love has a flow on effect. When a multitude of sins are covered, there is no desire to work ill toward our neighbour. If love suffers long under insult, and is still kind; if it is not proud, not selfish, how can evil continue? There is no room left for it to grow! Like any other promise, when I've believed and then claimed this power so freely at my disposal, there has been strength and victory.
Several years ago I had the opportunity and privilege to be baptised into Christ and it was definitely the best day of my life! Three months later I was looking through some cards I had received for my baptism, and I came across a quote that someone had shared with me… "Let your heart be animated by the love of Jesus to ardent activity for His glory".
I decided to message this quote back to my friend who had written it in the card. Unbeknown to me, they had been having a really tough week... My friend sent back a thank you, and later that evening explained how that quote had really encouraged them just when they needed it. "LET your heart be animated by the love of Jesus" is the key. We have a part to play. We need to let His love into our lives—by beholding Jesus and His love. Like dictionary.com defines it: Let. To allow or permit, give permission to something; and in this case give permission for the love of God to rule in our hearts. Only then will it produce ardent—blazing, fervent, and resolute activity, for His glory.
There is so much joy to be found in Jesus. So much beauty in the earth He created for humanity; so much to learn from His life of giving; so much love bestowed in the sacrifice He made for sinful man on the cruel cross; and not stopping there, by saving us only, but also by preparing a place for those who choose the gift He offers!
The power that love can have in our lives is best expressed by Paul in Romans chapter 8: "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
LOVE IS POWER! Living, divine love let into our lives has inexhaustible power. Power to make our characters like the divine, thus glorifying our God and King. This is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”
"LET your heart be animated by the love of Jesus to ardent activity for His glory"! (OHC 147)“