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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...


 

Daily Boost

Jan. 21, 2010 - Nothing Else Matters

By Jesse Arnold

What is that something that makes nothing else matter?

Money? Success? Fame? Stuff? Power? Freedom? Relationships?

This list could go on and on. But think about it, what is the one thing that matters most to you? Is that one thing really worth all your effort and time? Maybe it is. In all honesty for a lot of us, it probably is not.

My goal is for love to be that one thing in my life. It’s taken a long time, and I’m not saying I’m there or I have it down, but everything has changed since I allowed God to work that concept into my heart. And this isn’t some concept coming from me. The Bible tells us how important love is. Look at 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing” (NLT).

Paul says a few specific things about what we are if we don’t love others: a “noisy gong,” a “clanging cymbal,” and the most potent, “nothing.” A deed in and of itself does not matter. “If I gave everything I have to the poor … but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.” He said even if he possessed all knowledge, and knew all of God’s plans, he would be nothing. Because wisdom alone is just wisdom. Knowledge of God alone is meaningless without love.

Look at Jesus’ response when asked what the greatest commandment was:

“‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).

“The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two.” And both start with love. Love your God. Love your neighbor. Not suggestions. Not things that might be a good idea. These are commands. Imperative directions. An order.

OK, so I think we can proceed with that established. We are to love God with our heart, soul and mind. Next, we are to love our neighbor as we do ourselves. But knowing this is different from applying it.

First off, what is love? (cue music) We stumble into a beehive of interpretation. Poets, authors, musicians, artists and many more have tried to define this illusive concept since the beginning of time. Paul puts it simply thus: “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Many would call love an emotion. I think too often love is reduced to merely an emotional response. But it is more than that.

Love is a choice.

You’ve been hurt by someone you love. You still love them. You don’t try to make them hurt too.

Love doesn’t bow out at the first sign of rough weather. That is not love, that is convenience. It’s easy to love someone if they are always around. Always giving you the attention you seek from them. Love will ride out the rough times. Love will give of itself to help the other instead of seeking returns.

Love is not what we see portrayed in most movies that claim to be about love. Love is not sex. Love is not teddy bears and candy. Love doesn’t quit. We do.

When we don’t feel love for someone, it’s because we’ve stopped viewing it as a choice, and our false love is based on that person’s reactions toward us. Real love chooses to remain regardless of that reaction.

He lied to me, but I choose to love him anyway.

She cheated on me, but I choose to love her anyway.

They sabotaged my plans, but I choose to love them anyway.

How does this apply to God, to Jesus? How do we show love to someone who is not physically with us? How many of us have heard, or even said, “If you really love me, show me,” or some variation of that? Apart from the Bible telling us God loves us, have we not already seen the ultimate show of love in Jesus? His whole life on Earth was the greatest expression of love. He crossed over from heaven to live within the limitations of a human body. He lived a normal life. He went to school, ate lunch, probably smelled from time to time. Then when He came of age, He went around to the lame, the blind, and the demon-possessed and healed them. He showed His love to people no one else wanted to have anything to do with.

He even picked His disciples from guys who didn’t make the cut. Rough, blue-collar, salt of the earth, working men to be His core group. His motive was always love. God loved us, so He sent His Son. His Son lived out that love. And ultimately He died to restore us to the full experience of God’s love. A relationship that had been broken since Adam and Eve.

Jesus died for us so that we can live for Him. In living for Him, we are given one opportunity after another to show love. Sometimes we get it right; a lot of times we mess up. But we can change that. If we focus on God, loving Him, getting to know Him by reading Scripture, praying, being still and listening instead of just asking Him for things, we will learn more about love. And in doing that we can show that love to others, and they will know that God loves them.

So for me, the thing that makes nothing else matter is love. Not just romantic love, but godly love. Without it, without Him, everything I do is nothing. Static noise. So I pray that I may love more fully those around me, and love God for all that He is.

— Jesse Arnold lives in Joliet, Ill., and serves on “the Bin” (youth) Leadership Team at Southwest Community Church.

 

 

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