What to make of 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. How to react on meditating these standards of love?
Today’s post particularly concerns believers who already have come to Jesus for forgiveness of their sins. They embarked on a new life being in touch with the Lord.
Now they read these verses and have a desire to grow as far as the practical outworking of these standards in their lives is concerned. They pray and say to God: “Lord, I want this description of love to become more of a reality in my life. I know it is not within my selfish and sinful nature to be like that. I need you. I need strength from you. I need you to work out this kind of love in my life.”
I suppose that this kind of reaction was what Paul was aiming at when writing to the Corinthian converts. In 1 Corinthians 12:31 he encouraged them to desire the best spiritual gifts. Then he says he wants to show them yet a more excellent kind of Christian experience. Then he writes on love. Thus he encourages the believers to pray for the outworking of this love in their lives.
We receive sanctification much on the same basis as we receive salvation. Now not all my readers will be acquainted with this terminology. Therefore let me explain.
Salvation refers to a restored relationship with God. We are sinners and therefore separated from God. As we acknowledge this and believe that God is gracious and ready to forgive us, and as we dedicate our lives to God we receive a new quality of life and peace with God. We cannot earn that. We cannot bring anything to God to impress him. This new life with Jesus is a free gift from God. We receive it by faith.
Sanctification refers to the practical outworking of God’s standards in the lives of those who already have received salvation.
Now here is what I am aiming at. As we desire standards of love presented in the bible to be practically worked out in our lives, we might try in our own strength. Yet our efforts are likely to be short of certain qualities God is looking for.
We receive sanctification by faith. As we grow and get closer to the Lord also our feelings and attitudes will change. We just trust him and go ahead.
In his epistle to the Galatians Paul refers to aspects of sanctification as to the fruit of the Holy Spirit. A fruit just grows as a plant receives sunlight, water and other nourishing substances. All this comes from the roots and the other parts of the plant. As we grow in prayer and in listening to what God tells us in the bible the fruit of the Spirit is going to grow in our lives.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22+23/KJV).
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7/NIV).