I love a good mystery! We were supposed to have enjoyed solving a mystery as a part of our ladies’ event originally scheduled to happen in a couple of weeks at Oak Ridge Baptist Church. I hope that we can reschedule that evening to enjoy together. In the meantime, would you join me in studying out another great mystery together online? This will give you an opportunity to dig into God’s Word for yourself as well as post your comments and questions at the end of each post. I’m looking forward to hearing your insights, so please don’t be shy!
This “mystery” that I’ve been studying over the past several months has been the desperate search of every human heart since the beginning of time. It continues to remain an elusive treasure just out of grasp for so many people. It’s the most important truth that God wants us to live (Mark 12:29-31), and it is the greatest desire of every heart. What is it? 1 Corinthians 13:13 says, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Humanity recognizes the importance of love. The desire to know love, to be loved, and to give love is implanted deep within every human heart. How many countless songs, poems, and stories have been written about love? How many movies and storylines have the theme of love as their focus? During these uncertain times, there has been a global call for people to express compassion and love.
We were created in God’s image with the capacity to love and be loved. God’s first and greatest command is to love, and by loving each other, we reflect Him most accurately. You would think based on these facts alone that love would be therefore easy and natural. However, a quick glimpse into human history (and most likely even today’s happenings within your own home) makes it clear that love is neither natural nor easy. Just as voices everywhere are crying out to embrace love now more than ever, we are seeing an increase in violent and completely unloving behavior.
Not only do we struggle to show love, but we have difficulty even defining love. Myriam Webster offers over 12 definitions and there is a whole multitude of other words that are used either as synonyms for love or descriptors of types of love. The Greek and Hebrew languages (from which the Bible was translated) offer up even more definitions and a multitude of words that we translate into the single word, “Love.”How about the following common phrases or ideas about love? Which of these do you think gets to the heart of love? Do any really encapsulate what true love is? Why or why not?
- “Just follow your heart.”
- “I’m falling in love.” “We fell out of love.”
- “Love is a choice, not a feeling.”
- “You don’t love it, you just like it.” “I don’t like you, but I love you.”
- “It doesn’t matter what you believe, love is the most important thing. Just choose love.”
Study it out:
Take a few moments to look at what God’s Word has to say about the previously listed ideas. Does Scripture reinforce these sayings or contradict them? Does it seem to do both at times? I would love to hear your input in the comments section after studying the Scripture passages. What are some common phrases or ideas about love that you have heard? What does Scripture say about them?
1. Just Follow Your Heart
Has your heart or emotions ever led you astray or given conflicting messages? Can you think of a time when your “gut” informed you correctly and it was a good idea to follow those instincts? To what can you attribute those experiences? Conversely, what does Jeremiah 17:5-10 have to say about the human heart? Can you blame outward circumstances or other people for your unloving words, thoughts, and actions? If you were to simply follow your heart, would you be better off? What do Mark 7:14-23 and Proverbs 4:23 have to say about the source of evil thoughts and actions?
2. I’m Falling in/out of Love.
Is love something that you have no control over? Is it simply a feeling that can come and go? Should you ever make hard choices out of love apart from your feelings? What does Colossians 3:12-14 say about choosing love?
3. Love is a Choice and not a Feeling.
What does 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 have to say about incredibly sacrificial acts of “love” done without a proper heart motivation? What is the worth of these actions when holy desire is not present?
4. You Don’t Love it, You Only Like It.
Is it possible to set your love on mere things? What does Luke 11:37-44 and John 12:42-43 teach about the ability you have to love what is wrong? How does love affect choices? (2 Timothy 4:10)
5. It Doesn’t Matter What You Believe as Long as You Love.
The final point really gets to the heart of our lesson because it forces each of us to ask ourselves, “Whose definition of love do I follow? What authority do I trust to define love? Is there an authority about love or am I simply left to my own conclusions? I’m hoping you are still feeling a measure of the confusion, questioning, and searching that you feel when beginning to uncover a mystery. I only listed a few simple ideas about love, and it should be obvious that there is really no way to adequately plumb the depths of even those simple ideas in a day, week, or even a year.
Before we can even scratch the surface in a study on love, we need to address another topic first so that we will be equipped with the right tools. The Apostle Paul didn’t conclude his famous “Love Chapter” in his letter to the Corinthians with the inclusion of faith and hope for no reason. Those elements were not simply tacked on as separate important parts of the Christian faith. He purposely listed them along with love as dwelling together in an inseparable trinity of truth. We’ll see in the next post how faith plays an essential role in understanding, accepting, and giving love. This pursuit of love will not just be life-long while here on earth, but an eternal pursuit. Remember, faith and hope will have their end, but love endures forever. (1 Corinthians 13:8-13) Are you ready to join me in this search of God’s beautiful mystery of love? I look forward to diving deep into this study of love together! The following is my prayer for each of us as we begin:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Are you looking for more devotional or Scripture memory resources? Find gifts, artwork, crafts and other devotional printables at Etsy.com/Shop/BreathingGrace. You can also find the original Breathing Grace 50 day devotional on Amazon.com/author/RobertsSarah along with a 30 day devotional for Thanksgiving and a 31 day devotional and ornament maker for Advent. All devotionals are available in both KJV and ESV versions of the Bible.