This week I was reminded once again that taking a strong covenant stand requires great love. It all began last Christmas when it seemed that our daughter’s temporarily away husband might end up being alone for Christmas. We told her he was welcome to join our family if that was okay with her and if he wanted to.
As it turned out he had other plans, but the incident brought out heated reaction from many who heard we had been willing to invite him. We understand this reaction as this has been a journey of frequent forgiveness for us. It would be so easy to take up an offense for our daughter and, on many occasions, I have. Every time, though, the Holy Spirit has convicted me of my hardening heart and has always brought me to a place of forgiveness and love. Michael and I truly love him and pray for the day when their family will be reunited and healed.
This week in talking with a friend, we were reminded again of how bitter one can become against the spouse who wounds our child. Our friend was angry, bitter and had nothing good to say about his daughter’s “ex”. He begrudged him any good thing and wanted him to suffer for being an unfaithful spouse and divorcing his wife. We realized this man’s words and actions are totally devoid of love and forgiveness. Without love a covenant stand just becomes harsh and legalistic.
1 Corinthians 13 is a challenge to all of us who stand firmly for a marriage covenant.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. (My preaching is harsh and irritating.) If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. (Standing in faith without love is useless.) If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (No matter how much I give up or suffer, without love it is empty.)
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. (Not walking in love can make me proud of being the better person.) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (Love compels me to turn to Jesus, not the ears of another when I have been wronged.) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (Love keeps me from getting even and empowers me to forgive.)
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. (What I know and what I understand will change, but God’s love is constant.) When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. (Children see their own needs first. The mature can place the needs of others first.) For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. (God is working strongly on my behalf even though I cannot always see it.)
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (True agape love can only come from God. It far surpasses our human ability to love and is the kind of love that transforms hearts, my own being the first one that is changed.) Love, Marilyn