It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Thoughts for Today:Some people may read our passage today and say, "That's very nice, but it's just not practical in our society. In my experience, I've been betrayed, let down and humiliated. And besides, how am I supposed to get from where I am to those ideals?"
Maybe it's an age thing (I'm getting a lot more gray hair), but the older I get the more I see the Word at work in the world and in me. When I see a situation that might have made me angry or bitter in the past, I am reminded of the price Jesus paid to redeem sin. Of His love and sacrifice for all humanity -- even an awful person or a terrible circumstance. I also recognize the power of the Holy Spirit to convict people who are locked in sin. So when the Bible says (Numbers 32:23): "But if you fail to do this [follow the Lord], you will be sinning against the Lord; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out," I believe it. Why? Because I trust the Word of God and I've seen it proved over and over again. There is a consequence for sin and I know that if people don't choose to listen to God, their sin will eventually them track down. It's not up to us to punish, condemn or anything else. Our responsibility is to love.
So how do we love in the way Paul instructs in our passage today (always protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering)? It is impossible unless we remain in Jesus. He said (John 15:5): "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Branches take their nourishment and sustenance from the vine. And because of their connection to the vine they "bear much fruit". The same is true for us. As we stay near Him, reading and listening to His Word, and enjoying His presence, the fruit comes by itself. We don't have to work for it. Fruit is produced as a result of our proximity to Jesus.
Questions to Ponder:Always -- protecting, trusting, hoping and persevering -- are not ideals, but fruit of our relationship with Jesus. When people say, "I've taken all I'm going to take," they really mean they haven't drawn of God's kind of love. Human love has limits. God's love knows no limits. Are you having trouble continuing to love? Stay connected to Jesus. The more we do, the more His AGAPE love will flow through us, and to everyone around.