There is a chapter in the Bible that is commonly called “The Love Chapter”. No it’s not in Song of Solomon… but if you want a sweet little blush on this Valentine’s Day, read that aloud with your Spouse. No I’m talking about 1 Corinthians 13.
Here’s a challenge for you today as we focus on Love. The Bible says “God is love,” but what does that mean? Here in 1 Corinthians, we have a tangible measure of what Love is. Try this challenge: Read 1 Corinthians and insert your name in place of the word “love.” Now read it again and insert the name “Jesus.” This is what love should look like. Jesus is the standard against which all human loves should be compared. See, we fall short each time. Jesus is the definition of love in the flesh. And while you are thinking about THAT definition, think about this measure of love: God showed his love to us in this way, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Now read this with your name in place of “Love”
Love is patient. Love is kind. Love does not envy. Love does not boast. Love is not proud. Love is not rude. Love is not selfish. Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not enjoy evil but is happy about the truth. Love always protects. Love always trusts. Love always hopes. Love always perseveres. Love never fails.
(Did you throw up a little in your mouth as you read that?) Now read that with the name of Jesus in place of “Love.” That’s who loves YOU. Happy Valentine’s Day from your Beloved Jesus.
When my son was a toddler, he loved to spend evenings with me out in my garden. We would check all the plants, water everything and pick a few weeds. His favorite thing to do was to pick the ripe cherry tomatoes and pop them right into his mouth. So one summer I bought a package of Giant Grey Stripe Sunflower seeds for us to plant together.
We prepared a sunny corner of the garden and poked our seeds into the dirt. But that was not as much fun as my child thought it would be. He wanted to dig in the dirt some more. I told him, “We can’t disturb the seeds. They need to rest in the quiet darkness under the dirt. Then someday they will sprout.”
Every day we checked the corner garden for signs of baby leaves pushing through the soil. Still the boy desperately wanted to dig up the seeds and check them. Have patience Child. Let the seed grow! By the end of the summer, the sunflowers towered over me, their heads bending heavy with seeds. The patience paid off when we harvested our sunflower seeds.
Just like seeds have a cycle from being sown to growing to harvesting, so the Kingdom of God works in cycles like this. Some of us plant, some of us water, and some of us harvest. When the farmer plants the seeds, he must wait patiently for God to make them grow. God sends the rain. God sends the sun. God causes growth. We wait.
I have encouraged our student leaders with this analogy. When they get anxious and worried that their campus small group isn’t growing, I encourage them to wait. Growth will come. Be patient. When they feel discouraged and want to quit, I remind them that the seeds grow in secret, in the dark, where no one can see. Something is happening under the surface, and it’s too early to abandon the seed. Have patience. No one can start a new group and expect a harvest that same week. Our groups are in the planting phase of the cycle. We can’t expect a harvest just yet.
Patience Child, the seed will grow and the harvest will come someday. Patience.