03 February 2013

Weekend Reading: The Touchstone of Faith Is Love

For all the people of God, love is the touchstone of our faith, the way to know if what we believe is with Him, or with something else, if we are walking with Him, or with something else, if the one who speaks is speaking for Him, or for something else.

Love cannot be pretended for too long, but always shows itself to be genuine or not. It does not speak with hate or anger or fear, but with a fullness of existence that can only be counterfeited but never achieved by that which is opposed to His existence.

When you are in doubt or confused, look for the light of love. And if it is not there, if it is wrapped in the hardness of pride disguised as 'love,' then you will know what it is.

Love is not easy; it is not a natural state. It seems weak and foolish, and even despicable to the fallen. 

It is a conscious disposition of the mind and the heart, an act of will. It is a habit of acting and looking at things, that becomes easier and more comfortable as we carry that yoke on our weaker nature and our emotions.   Over time that yoke becomes light, and a light to steady us in life's darker moments. But it is never easy or natural.

This is how the people of God may judge themselves and their own actions along the way. If there is no love evident in the words and the heart, then the words and the actions are not of God, but of something else.

Love is not what we do, but how we do what we do.  Love is found in the most practical things, not in grand gestures and sacrifices, but in the small daily acts, done lovingly, and with care, for His sake.  It is how we carry our cross, not in front of a crowd, but in the quiet, little things. 

We do not need to hate and reject the world, and despise His creation. They are a gift from God, to which we bring our good use and order, and wonder. We can work with His gifts lovingly, and not abuse them from self-absorption and greed.

It is not the world that is a source of evil, but the willfulness of our hearts, hardened with pride. Only love is productive.  And the pity is, not to love.

God is the essence of all existence, which is love.

"If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the fullness comes, the partial will come to an end.

When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”