Are We Loving Like Jesus?
An abundant Christian life requires regular health checkups. It is not a “set it and forget it” kind of calling. If you want to live in the joy and hope that is promised from the Lord, it is important to see if you are acting like Him. It is better to find out early there is a problem, rather than allow it to run unchecked and lead you into all sorts of grief. The love section of the 13th chapter of Corinthians my favorite way to test my own heart. It is the Christian diagnostic that changed my life. It likely saved my marriage. It is probably more responsible for my current happiness in the Lord than anything other than the Gospel. Yet, it initially made me miserable. I took a diagnostic of my operating systems and failed miserably. There were error codes everywhere. Yet, it was facing this failure and trusting the Lord’s mercy and grace that opened up a totally different world for my Christian life.
Have you ever run into a technical problem with your computer? You finally break down, humble yourself and call technical support service for real help and what do they do? They tell us to turn it off and back on..I know after that? They usually run a diagnostic of some sort. They test the system to see how it is running to try to see where the trouble pops up. The goal of this test is not to fix the problem itself. It is to force the problem to show itself so a solution can be formulated. You cannot figure out how to repair a problem if you can’t see it clearly. The issue may be complex or simple. It may be near fatal or just a minor speed bump. It may take a lot of effort to fix, but it is better to pinpoint the source of the issue rather than to just repeatedly fail. Finding the source of a malfunction is crucial to get something repaired.
Diagnostic testing is equally essential for your Christians life. A Christian cannot grow unless they are first willing to discover the areas that need to be repaired. This can be a painful process. Who likes to deal with bad news? But if you understand just how much your tech support agent, God, wants to walk you through the repair, you can run diagnostics with confidence. It is always better trying to fix it with God’s help rather than just being trapped by the problem.
Paul lays out a really great diagnostic test in 1 Corinthians 13. Possibly the best-known chapter of the Bible, it deals with love as the center point of our faith in Jesus. Love is the high point of your life as a Christian. As Paul writes, if you have all of the other trappings and signs of Christianity in your life but do not have love, we are nothing. For more read Christianity without Love?. A person could give away everything they have to the poor and die as a martyr…no love and they are nothing. They could be bishop of a large city with thousands of people under them…no love and they are nothing. If a Christian is doing life without the love of Jesus working through them, their work is worthless. “Why is this so harsh?”, you may be asking. Because God is love. It is quite simple.
If you are doing anything on His behalf, there will be love present. It doesn’t have to be perfect love or love in every single aspect, but there will be love somewhere involved.
If there is no love there it means that God is not there. Life without God is not real life.
No Love Means No God
You are never doing it right if you don’t have love. It is a major system error if love is not there. Love is that important! I know I don’t want to be like Martha when she is so distracted by serving that she loses track of love. Love is meant to motivate her. It is there to make her service joy-filled. She is called to enjoy her time serving Jesus face to face. Yet she gets so lost and angry with her sister and Jesus that she scolds both of them. Do you ever get so frustrated serving God you get angry with Jesus? Yeah, me too. That is a great sign love has gotten misplaced.
Given the emphasis that God places on love, it makes sense that you should check to see how you are doing on a regular basis in this area.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails.
Our Heart Diagnostic Test
The love described by God in this section can be a light under which to examine yourself. To check and see how you are doing on a spiritual maturity level, you can prayerfully ask how we are doing compared to the listed attributes. It is like holding a garment up to a strong light to examine its quality. The bright light reveals either the great quality of the fabric or its hidden flaws.
You simply take each of the described attributes of love from the Bible and see if that properly describes you. If it does that is wonderful. Praise Jesus! If it reveals a problem then praise Jesus and get to work fixing it.
Here is the diagnostic test to apply personally:
Am I long-suffering? Do I express love for others by being patient with them? As God is patient with us and our sin, are we patient with others? Do we write people off or rail at them for not changing fast enough?
Am I kind? Do I treat others like a parent treats a child or a teacher treats a young student? Am I tender with people?
Do I envy? This is a tough one in the “Keeping up with the Joneses” society we live in. Do I envy the material, physical, relational and even spiritual health of another?
Do I parade myself? Is life all about telling others how great I am? Do I make a point to point out my good deeds to others?
Am I rude? Am I a rude person? Do I treat others well even people I don’t like? Guess what? Politics and social media are not accepted here. Someone who rejects Jesus does not deserve rudeness either. Tough one, right?
Am I easily angered or provoked? Am I an angry Christian? Am I defining my relationship with the Lord by what I am against and angry at?
Do I think evil? This aspect can also be translated as love does not keep a record of wrongs. Do I store up the offenses of my spouse, child or others against me and then use them as a club against them each time there is an issue? Do I forgive fully like Jesus does?
You can continue on through Paul’s description of the attributes of love and see how you do.
Want to Go Deeper – Get Personal with It
This is particularly effective if you get personal with it. Replace the word love in the verses with your own name…if you dare. You honestly might not like the result.
This application changed my Christian life completely and saved my marriage. Why? I went through the verses at the time and the Lord showed me the truth I was running away from. I was failing my diagnostics terribly. God then gave me the desire and power to change through His Spirit.
Let’s see how I am doing now?
Tom is not envious? Ugh! Well, sometimes yes, sometimes no. I need to help in this category but my life is not categorized by envy.
Tom does not parade himself and is not proud? Again, Lord help me with this one?
Tom bears all things, Tom hopes all things, Tom endures all things? Nope, nope, nope…not even close. My diagnostic test has triggered the problems that need real attention. I need God’s help here. You get the picture, right?
You are not going to score perfectly. Only Jesus ever got 100% on this test.
You are being sanctified and transformed into Jesus’ image. This means you are not currently totally in His image. You are never going to be perfectly loving until you see Jesus face to face. But you can get better with the Lord’s help. Much like dealing with tech support, you must be willing to look for the problems to solve them.
The goal with the Lord is never to remain stuck in the issue.
Are you willing to run the diagnostic? Are you willing to accept the hard answers and then take them to the Lord?
Lord, where am I not loving like you love? Lord, show me how to change those areas so I love like you do? Lord, give my heart so I can love like you love?
If you are willing and ask, He promises to always answer.