“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23
Love is not a safe thing. No one can hurt you as deeply as the ones you love. An enemy can strike you down to the ground and leave you clinging to life, but it pales in comparison to genuine heartbreak. A wounded heart resists being touched because it cannot bear to be hurt again. Yet the heart needs love. It aches for love. For love, Jesus wore a crown of thorns and hung on a cross.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 35:26
We were made by God for God; a point my pastor likes to drill home. God is love. He puts his love in the heart of his children. It’s inescapable. As King David wrote, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139:7-8) His love brings both the deep riches of God’s heart and the heartache he feels for the perishing. As if the heart weren’t fragile enough.
I’ve heard many stories about believers failing to show love. Not all who say they follow Christ are actually God’s children. That’s a partial explanation. The fuller explanation is that while God’s love lives in the heart of every newborn Christian, sin is right there with it.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
“So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:21-25
As a result, Christians can’t even trust themselves. Only God is absolutely trustworthy… But God’s love isn’t safe either.
In the name of love many martyrs have died. In the name of love many wounds and much suffering is shared with Christ. That being the case, one could almost ask, “Why bother?”
Because this is what God says about love:
1 Corinthians 13
1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If 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 have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8Love 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. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When 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 childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor 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.
13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.