Suggested Reading: I Corinthians 13:1-13
And I will show you a still more excellent way—I Corinthians 12:31
I see you striving for excellence in all you do. Good job! You are not satisfied with mediocre. You already know God has designed you for more than average; you have potential for excellence knitted into the fiber of your being. You are one who says if you are going to do something then you might as well do it right. You are not content with just getting by but strive for and desire excellence in everything. You keep at it, do not turn something loose until excellence is achieved. When you see the definition of excellence you think “that is exactly what I want! Nothing less!” As an admirer of excellence then, you are not surprised that the most excellent way God calls us to and Paul writes about, is love.
It is said that at the end of the apostle John’s life all his sermons were based on love. He could preach a six-or-seven-word sermon, lasting only a few minutes, saying, “Brothers and sisters, love one another. Amen” and then take his seat. What, except “Amen” can you say to that? You have read his writings, his final letters, and the theme of each is love because in the end love is the only thing that is going to shake out and remain rigidly fixed. Think about it, even after a loved one has taken up residence in heaven and we no longer have them in our life or see them physically we still have love. That love never diminishes no matter how many years they have been away from us and it holds without flickering until we see them again.
Paul’s utmost for Christ’s highest in actual life was depicted by having a loving attitude and holy actions in less-than-ideal circumstances and conditions. Like Christ, Paul surprised his enemies by loving. Their actions toward him deserved his wrath and ire but instead he loved. He had discovered the key to living a rich life despite his outward circumstances, the key to being a living breathing vessel of love toward others: attaching all he had to Christ, submitting all his emotions, thoughts, desires, and will to Christ, depending upon Christ to give him the strength and even inclination to love.
Just as we must, Paul, John, and all others who strive for excellence in loving must lean heavily and solely upon Christ because loving is not easy and is quite uneasy. It challenges us and requires so much of us. But if we want to walk the road Christ is walking, if we allow him to live his life through us, then love is the only path we can take and accept. It is the path that leads to the highest life of peace, fulfillment, praise, and service to Christ.
Christ helps us in our pursuit of excellence, which, without his help is impossible. A yoke that would otherwise be unbearable and unattainable becomes not only possible, but liberating. Have you noticed that in your experiences love is the only activity that will surprise and eventually topple an enemy? Even the guilty expect retribution and retaliation but love, they cannot comprehend or respond if their response would be anything other than love. Your love towards them does not mean they will be transformed in their activity or attitude it simply means their attitude and activity no longer have power over you and gives the Lord an opening to work in their heart while your heart is liberated, and you can live life peacefully and confidently.
Be determined in prayer to possess the most excellent way of love. Be suspect of, and watchful for the enemy of love to do everything in his power to steal it, arrest it and lure it from you. Be resolute to take it up each day just as you do in putting on the full armor of God. Be encouraged to live each day in the most excellent way, the way of love.
Dear God, such a high call, the highest call on earth to accept and actively pursue. Only the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ Jesus living in us can we love in less-than-ideal circumstances and in the face of darkness and hatred. Make us resolute, rigidly fixed, and active participants in the most excellent way of love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen