Suggested Reading: James 2:1-13
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony—Colossians 3:14
In food preparation binders are combined with other ingredients to maintain food texture and shape. Although flour and eggs are some of the more commonly known and used binders for baking and cooking there are others that can be used, especially if you have food sensitivities and allergies. Even when we need to go outside the commonly used or known binders, they serve an important purpose for foods and dishes coming out just right.
Just as we need those binders in cooking and baking, Paul says love is the necessary ingredient that binds everything together in perfect harmony. We have so many amazing, wonderful, beautiful attributes God has given us through our rebirth, Christ passed on to us, and the Spirit perfects and nourishes in us, but without love they are nothing, useless, fruitless, unproductive, and meaningless. Think of what Paul writes in I Corinthians concerning spiritual gifts. When he writes without love all our gifts are nothing but showy, empty offerings. We can start to get the understanding, not only through Paul’s letters, but those of Peter, and John that love is not optional but a necessity. That would make love, not an emotion or feeling as we might come to think of it, but a Christian duty.
We love because God first loved us (I John 4:19). God’s love for us is not based upon feelings; although he is passionately and eternally in love with us, but his love is deeper than and beyond feelings. His love is action: healing, grace, forgiveness, patience, mercy, compassion, protection, provision, salvation; sharing of grace and wisdom…Because we are like him, our love also needs to be an activity of the will rather than an emotion. We don’t have to feel warmly towards another in order to love them. In that case it would be impossible to love anyone outside of our small circles of friends and family; and we definitely would not be able to love our enemies! But the activity of love is different it flows from the will. As Paul writes “love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful…but love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (I Cor 13: 4-8). Because love demands that we honor God and fulfill our Christian duty we are compelled do our best towards others as God has commanded.
Daily we can see God’s love in action as he pours out his love into our life. God does not love us and at the same time seek to destroy us, harm us, nor become complacent or detached from us. His love is consistent, real, relevant, a healing and affirming action toward us; always doing that which supports life and building us up.
I was watching a movie recently that centered on a married couple and their life together. It went between the present and flashed back to the beginning of their relationship and marriage. Through these scenes it was easy to see how their love started to disintegrate and they ended up in the place they were: strong feelings of hate and disgust, distrust and desire to destroy one another. Their love started out as an emotion and physical, but these were not enough to bind them together for a lifetime. Their love never assimilated to the activity of love. As many movies go there was no nice tidy ending. They did not rediscover love nor get to that needed place where deeper, true love became the binder that held all their memories, history, and family together in perfect harmony, instead they went their separate ways.
When love becomes, not just our feelings and emotions, but our Christian duty, it takes on a new shape and meaning. Like the binders we use in cooking and baking; it binds all things together in perfect harmony. Love, as Christian duty will not come automatically or manifest all by itself, we must long for it, pray for it, strive for and pursue it, then wear it. To receive love from others as they fulfill their Christian duty is a joy and strengthening, to love others from Christian duty is the fulfillment of God’s law of love and Christ’s life and death of love. Let’s pray,
Dear God, teach us to love; not from our emotions or feelings, not even from the heart which can be fickle, but as our Christian duty and thereby we will fulfill your law of love. in Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.