For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Brothers and sisters, I have a confession to make. I have not been loving all of you well. This morning, as I read the words of our Savior in John 13:34-35, I found myself utterly convicted, for I have been incriminated in offering a stingy, self-serving version of love. I have repented to God; I now repent before all of you. Instead of living entirely for Him, I have been guilty of reserving some parts of life for myself.
I have not always been patient nor kind with you, my friends. Instead of sharing in your joy when some boon comes your way, I have often secretly harbored envy. From time to time, I have boasted of my meager successes in the spiritual realm and failed to credit God with what is truly His work and not my own. I have been guilty of conceit, of standing firmly for my own opinions rather than standing upon God’s truth alone. I have rudely interrupted you in our conversations. I have responded with irritation when I felt unwell or when my plans were diverted and have resented it when I have been inconvenienced.
Not since becoming a follower of Christ have I knowingly rejoiced in wrongdoing, but neither have I always rejoiced in the truth — especially when the truth was one that highlighted my own pride, discontent, or foolishness. I have not always borne all trials with a cheerful and simple faith in my God. I have not always believed the best in others; I have not always trusted the goodness of God in difficult situations; nor have I endured well the mistreatment, whether genuine or perceived, of others.
In these ways, my sin is against you, my brothers, and against the world for not living a life that accentuates the immeasurable worth, purity, and plentiful provision of my God. However, these sins are most grievously cast against Him, for it is His name that is profaned and His glory that is masked by my failure to share with others the joy of His enduring and undeserved love. When I complain, it is His rightful praise that is eclipsed by my grumblings.
Ultimately, while He is awakening with me a deeper, more genuine, and passionate love for my fellow believers, it is He Himself who lays claim to my most fervent zeal and adoration. For Him, I will lay down my life if required. I will not compromise the hard-and-fast truths my Savior died for nor disagree with Him on the definition of good or evil in the name of what the world passes off as “love” nor for fear of being branded as “hateful.”
I will love you, friends, whether you know the Lord or not, but I will not bend the truth to placate you. That is not love. I have no wish to share with you a feeble, twisted substitute or mollify you, but for us together to experience His infinite love that looks beyond what is comfortable or fashionable here and now to the eternal welfare of the soul.
In love, I hope that you will join me on this journey of prayerful and Spirit-led searching, of asking the Light of the world to shine into the darkest and most secret places of our hearts, and of agreeing to fling out the refuse when He lovingly exposes it. In love, I hope that we can learn truly to no longer live for ourselves, but for Him, to love one another as He has loved us, and by our lives to set an example of love, faith, and purity. In love, let us live a life of worship and praise, joyfully proclaiming the steadfast love of our wondrous and merciful God!
I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy. Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live. . . What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. . .
Psalms 116:1-2, 12-13