7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, 9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began…” (2 Timothy 1:7-9)
The eternal purpose of God to save us in Christ is the compelling reason for Christians not to be “ashamed of the testimony of our Lord”. The preacher Timothy was to remember this and never be afraid to boldly preach the word of God. The fear of sin and death is cast off in Christ (Heb. 2:15). Be bold in spirit as you teach the gospel. The gospel is God’s power to save. The gospel is the expression of God’s love. The sober mind pledges allegiance to the gospel, come what may.
Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
Like a roof that protects the house from harsh weather, love shields others in their time of trouble, patiently enduring the trial that comes. Love is not gullible or naive, but neither is it suspicious. Love believes the best of others and grants the benefit of the doubt in the absence of evidence to the contrary. It refuses to trade in evil suspicions (1 Tim. 6:4). Love’s expectant desire is that goodness will prevail; it does not despair. Love perseveres through life’s present obstacles and endures to the end. Love never falters and flees. Love stays the course and fulfills its objective. Undefeated by sin and Satan, love prevails. God has so loved us. Let us so love Him and one another.
Love…does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth… (1 Corinthians 13:6)
Love does not celebrate sin. Oh, how many misunderstand love! The sin of adultery is called a “love affair”, when lust is its true nature (Heb. 13:4). The sin of loving money is prolific and exalted in our materialistic world (1 Tim. 6:6-10). Loving self and loving (sinful) pleasure has defined the masses since ancient times, and it continues to be so to this hour (Gen. 6:5; 2 Tim. 3:1-5). To truly love those in your life, do not take pleasure in their sin. Do not endorse it, encourage it or participate in it. Love makes a clear distinction between sin (iniquity, lawlessness) and the truth. Jesus said God’s word is truth (Jno. 17:17). Therefore, love takes pleasure in the word of God; in learning it, believing it and living it. Love for God compels a yearning for the truth. This is a simple yet profound way to determine whether we truly love God and others. Does truth or iniquity guide our decisions and actions? What are you celebrating; sin or truth?
Love…does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…(1 Corinthians 13:5)
Love’s qualities are observed in Jesus. How often he “turned the other cheek” when mistreated! Such is love in action; it does not treat others rudely – even when it is treated shamefully. To do otherwise would be to “seek its own” glory, and this love will not do. Love is utterly unselfish with its time, its energies and its prestige before others. Love refuses to be irritated or stirred to exasperation when patience runs thin. Furthermore, love will not keep a running score of wrongs against it – it “thinks no evil”. Love will not grow resentful, for to do so would nullify its goodwill and undying interest in the one it loves. God’s love is truly great, and we witness its glory in Jesus and His great love for us. Use today to follow His example of love toward those in your life, and be a blessing.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up… (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Love acts in the best interests of others instead of itself. William Barclay described agape (the Greek word translated by our English word, “love”) as “unconquerable benevolence; undefeatable goodwill”. Love refuses to be overwhelmed by the ill will and mistreatment it receives at the hands of others. Love will continue to be patient and kind. Love does not hastily retaliate when sinned against. Nor does love set itself up for display; it is humble, not boastful or arrogant. These traits of love are among the very nature of God, for “God is love” (1 Jno. 4:8, 16). Here is love’s challenge: How can we say we love God whom we have not seen when we do not love our brother whom we have seen (1 Jno. 4:20)? We cannot, and to do so shows us to be liars. Are you being patient and kind to your brother or sister, your father or mother, your spouse or child? Love does not give tit for tat. Love does not do to others what they do to you. Love does to others what you want them to do to you (Matt. 7:12). “And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also” (1 Jno. 4:21).
And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5:2)
Love (agape) is fundamentally a decision of the will, not an emotion of the heart. This runs counter to our culture that speaks of falling in and out of love. However, love that acts unselfishly in order to benefit its object is the bedrock of the Christian’s faith and character. Christ’s love is defined by the offering of Himself as a sacrifice to God for our sins. He chose to do that; it was a decision of His will (Jno. 10:18). Similarly, we are to “walk in love” – sacrificing ourselves in the service of others. Deciding to love Christ means sacrificing yourself for Him and for others. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jno. 5:3).