"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
April 12, 2017
It's somewhat interesting that in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 it begins by telling us only two words of what love is, then it tells us what love isn't. Towards the end it gives us a couple more descriptive words regarding love.
The four descriptions of what love is in this passage of scripture are: Love is patient, kind, always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
Then we read what love is not or never does: Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude; does not demand its own way; is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged; does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out; never gives up; and never loses faith.
If someone is jealous, boastful, proud, or rude towards a person; that's not love. If a person is selfish and demanding their own way; they aren't truly loving. If they are irritable and keep records of every time they are wronged; they aren't acting in love. If they rejoice when an injustice is done to someone, instead of rejoicing when the truth wins; love isn't in action. When a person gives up and loses faith; they stop loving.
Patience, kindness and hopefulness are important attributes of love; but perhaps one of the most vital aspects of love is that it endures through every circumstance.
I read something recently that said, "Here is the key thing about love. The opposite of love is not hate; it is apathy or indifference."
I've always heard that the opposite of love is hate, but I find a great deal of truth in the above statement. More often than not, individuals may not feel any particular emotion one way or another. If they don't truly love, they may not particularly care enough to hate or feel any type of emotion; they display apathy or indifference.
Apathy means 'a lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern'. Indifference means 'lack of interest, concern, or sympathy'.
If we try and love someone, while thinking of how it affects us personally and putting our feelings first and foremost before the other person, then those negative emotions that 1 Corinthians 13 says that love is not will slip in and eventually take over.
It's not enough to say we love, but it's essential that we show love. Not just a surface, convenient love; but an honest, enduring love that is selfless and goes above and beyond what we feel or want to do at times. We love even when it's inconvenient or we seemingly gain nothing from it. We love when we may not feel that we are shown love in return. We love when it's difficult and heart-breaking. We love when we're exhausted or would rather be doing something else.
When someone is going through a devastating illness where the diagnosis is life-threatening, it's often difficult for family and friends to feel as if they can handle dealing with it; especially when it could possibly go on for an undeterminable length of time. At times, there may be individuals who seldom offer to help out or visit, with the excuse, "It's just too hard seeing that person like that! It's too difficult for me to go see them."
That's not true love. That's someone trying to justify why they don't want to do something hard. It's actually very selfish, because they are thinking of themselves and not the person who is suffering and needs them more than ever.
Love says, "This is extremely difficult and it hurts and it's exhausting; but I will care for that person and spend time with them and do everything I can to make them feel loved and safe. I will look to their needs and do what I can to make them comfortable. It's not about me; it's about them! It breaks my heart and is one of the hardest things I've ever done; but with God's help, I will love with all my heart -- and show that love in as many ways as possible."
Jesus gave us many life examples of what it was to love unselfishly. He loved and showed His love to the disciples during those last moments leading up to His arrest and crucifixion.
John chapter thirteen tells of those last moments. Jesus was in the upper room with the twelve disciples. He knew that His final hours were at hand, and it was getting close to time to leave this world and return to His Father. The last half of verse one says, "He had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now He loved them to the very end."
It didn't say that Jesus loved them all, except Judas, who was His betrayer. It didn't say that Jesus loved them all, except Peter, who was getting ready to deny Him three times and leave Jesus' side during His trial. But scripture says that Jesus loved His disciples -- all twelve of them.
Jesus got up from the table, took off His robe, wrapped a towel around His waist, and poured water into a basin. He then began to wash the feet of His disciples and drying them with the towel; all twelve of them.
As He finished, Jesus was deeply troubled and said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will deny Me!" Then He told Judas, "Hurry and do what you're going to do."
As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus told the eleven men that His time had come. Peter declared that He would die for Jesus, and Jesus told him, "Die for Me? I tell you the truth, Peter, before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know Me."
Jesus took these beloved men with Him to the garden, where He prayed until His arrest. He instructed them to "Pray that you will not give in to temptation." Jesus then walked further into the garden to pray to His Father. When Jesus finished, He returned to His disciples only to find them asleep, exhausted from grief. (Luke 22:45) Jesus asked why they were sleeping; to get up and pray, so that they would not give in to temptation. But at that moment, the crowd, led by Judas, arrived to arrest Him.
Remember, the scripture says that Jesus had loved His disciples during His ministry on earth, and now loved them to the very end. Knowing that Judas was getting ready to betray Him, and that the other eleven wouldn't be able to stay awake during those final moments in the garden, and that Peter would deny Him and the others would leave His side and hide..... Jesus loved. He didn't say, "This is too hard! I can't be with these men, knowing that they're not going to be there when I need them most. I poured My life and teachings into them these past three years, yet they're going to deny and desert me; so I don't want to be with them anymore." No! He kept them by His side until they chose to leave.
He knelt down and washed their feet, knowing that He was washing the feet of a betrayer, deserter, and men who would hide and watch Him from the shadows. Jesus could have very well been justified in saying, "I can't do this! It's too difficult!" He could have told the men goodbye long before He did.
Jesus showed us that love isn't about ourselves or doing what is easy or convenient for us. Those disciples needed Him there by their side during those last days and moments leading up to His death, and upcoming ascension back to Heaven. So Jesus put their needs above His own and He loved.
After being flogged, having a crown or thorns pressed into His head, being spit on and mocked, stripped, denied, betrayed, tried before the crowds before Pilate and Herod, beaten..... He still managed to think of others and love. That's amazing!
While hanging on the cross, Jesus looked at His earthly mother, Mary, and asked John to care for her. He forgave the thief hanging on another cross beside Him. He then spoke these words, "Father, forgive them, for they they don't know what they're doing!"
I think what we can learn is this: Jesus showed us that love is not about ourselves and doing what's easy, but it's about looking to the needs of others above our own. It's caring for others when we may be hurting ourselves. It's forgiving when we've been hurt. It's selfless and giving and filled with all the qualities listed in 1 Corinthians 13.
During this upcoming Easter celebration as we reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, let us remember that He did it out of His great love for all mankind. Regardless of whether individuals choose to deny Him, or acknowledge His existence but refuse to commit their life to Him, or surrender their live to Him whole-heartedly - Jesus loves each of them unconditionally. Even though we may love Him and surrender our heart to Him, we may lose hope and question His ways and have faith that gets shaky from time to time; yet He loves us and gently draws us back to Himself. It may not always be easy or convenient for Him; but His unwavering love continues.
May we not only accept and cherish the love of Jesus, but commit to loving others with that same unwavering, unselfish love. Not only choosing to love when it's easy or convenient; but choosing to love during difficult circumstances that may take us out of our comfort zone. Perhaps we need to occasionally do a love check and read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 from time to time and see if we are truly loving as Jesus would have us love.
Since we don't have kids, we can't entirely relate to how much parents go through, when their kids say things like "I hate you!" We know it must be heart-breaking. We've see others go through it. We know that those parents never stop loving their kids, even if they feel angry for the moment.
I held my dad's hand a few nights ago, mostly to get him to stop trying to scratch off his bandages. After a while, he lifted both our hands into the air. I thought there was something spiritual on his mind. But then, with great effort, he relaxed one finger after another till he wasn't holding my hand at all. I kept hold, but looser. Then, he shook his hand, and made a gesture like "go away", and said, "finished." I guess he was just tired of holding my hand, and didn't want me there anymore.
But I stayed. Because I also saw him wake up once, and he didn't see anyone for a minute. It looked like he was going to panic. So, each time he came to, we reminded him that he was in the hospital, and just had surgery. Even if he got fed up with us, he was still more peaceful for knowing we were there, and still loved him.
1 can pineapple chunks, in their own juice
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
1 bunch green grapes, halved
1 package strawberries, sliced
1 small box vanilla Jell-O instant pudding
Pour the pineapple, juice and all, into a bowl. Add the pudding and stir until creamy. (Jell-O brand pudding only -- others don't taste as well.) Stir in the drained mandarin oranges. Add the additional fruit and stir until completely covered and creamy. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, but don't wait too long or the bananas will turn brown.
You can add other fruits that you like, if desired. Also, adjust the amounts depending on the quantity you would like to make.
I know many are going through difficult circumstances during this Easter season. Jon and I, as well as our families, are among those who are looking to God for strength.
Jon's father, who has battled Alzheimer's for the past few years, recently underwent a partial hip replacement due to a broken hip. We know that our time with him is growing short on this earth.
My stepmother, June, is 86 and has Parkinson's, as well as kidney cancer and blood clots. She had to spend a night in the hospital not long ago. We realize that our time with her is also nearing an end.
I know other family and friends are also dealing with health issues with parents or other relatives; and the journey is sometimes heart-breaking and very difficult.
May we remember to pray for one another; as well as offer words of support and encouragement. In other words, let us show and speak words of love!
We need to stop making what people did to us bigger than what Jesus did for us. - Christine Caine
We love you!
Loretta & Jon