Marked by Love
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
John 12:24-26 says this: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it; and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
There are four great promises and life-changing demands in these words spoken by Jesus: 1) If your life falls like a seed to the ground and dies, it will bear fruit; 2) If you hate your life in this world, you will keep it for eternity; 3) You will be with Jesus where He is if you follow Him – even to Calvary; and 4) The Father honors those who serve His Son.
Some may read this passage and think it is contradicting John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but will have everlasting life.” One may wonder, “Do we have eternal life by believing in Jesus, or by hating our lives in this world?” Do these passages contradict one another? No…in fact, John 12:25 defines John 3:16. What Jesus means by “believing on Him” is much deeper than we sometimes realize. He is not nullifying faith – He is clarifying it.
What does any of this have to do with love, you might be wondering. In John 12:24-26, Jesus is describing the way faith lives. So what does dying like a seed and hating your life in this world have to do with loving each other? In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Paul describes in great detail what love is. What is striking is that all of these details involve what Jesus described as a dying to self or a hating of your life in this world.
The truth is, we cannot make it past the first sentence, “Love is patient,” unless we die to ourselves. Patient here means long-tempered or not being provoked. It means that love is not easily irritated. By nature, none of us like delays or changes in our plans, do we? We crave a trouble-free life and tend to get irritated when things don’t go our way. It is not in our nature to be patient, or kind or humble and forgiving.
See then, before there can be agape love, there must be death. Not a one-time event, but an ongoing, daily choice to give up in order to gain something greater. This is love.
Dear Father, Please show me how to love others today. May everything I think, do and say flow out of deep love for You and for others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.