This is the supreme work to which we need to address ourselves in this world, to learn to love. Is life not full of opportunities for learning love? Every man and woman has a thousand of them. The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love.
Since August 26th, my posts have focused on the analysis of love, (as described in I Corinthians 13), a process that has personally been both stretching and humbling. To summarize this series, I have elected to copy for you a few profound statements by the renowned 19th century Scottish evangelist, Henry Drummond from his booklet, “The Greatest Thing in the World.” His explanation of love is the best I’ve read and I pray his words inspire you as they have me.
Love never fails. Therefore, the one eternal lesson for all of us is how we can better love.
To that end, Mr. Drummond says “do not quarrel with your lot in life. Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares, its petty environment, the vexations you have to stand, the small and sordid souls you have to live and work with. Above all, do not resent temptations; do not be perplexed because it seems to thicken round you more and more, and ceases neither for comfort nor for agony nor prayer. That is your practice. This is the practice which God appoints you; and it’s having its work in making you patient and humble, and generous, and unselfish, and kind, and courteous.”
“Do not grudge the hand that is molding the still too shapeless image within you….
It is growing more beautiful, though you see it not; and every touch of temptation may add to its perfection. Therefore keep in the midst of life. Do not isolate yourself. Be among men and among things, and among troubles, and difficulties, and obstacles. You remember Goethe’s words: “Talent develops itself in solitude; character in the stream of life.” Talent develops itself in solitude – the talent of prayer, of faith, of meditation, of seeing the unseen; character grows in the stream of the world’s life. That chiefly is where men are to learn love.”
How? How? How?
“By synthesis of all the virtues, men can make virtue; they cannot make love. How then are we to have this transcendent loving whole conveyed into our souls? We brace our wills to secure it. We try to copy those who have it. We lay down rules about it. We watch. We pray. But these things alone will not bring love into our nature. Love is an effect. And only as we fulfill the right condition can we have the effect produced. Shall I tell you what the cause is?”
We love because He first loved us. I John 4:19
“We love – because He first loved us. Look at the word ‘because.’ It is the cause of which I have spoken. Because he first loved us, the effect follows that we love, we love Him, we love all men. We cannot help it. Because He loved us, we love, we love everybody. Our heart is slowly changed. Contemplate the love of Christ, and you will love. Stand before that mirror, reflect Christ’s character, and you will be changed into the same image from tenderness to tenderness. There is no other way. You cannot love to order. You can only look at a lovely object, and fall in love with it, and grow into likeness to it. And so look at this Perfect Character, this Perfect Life. Look at the great sacrifice as He laid down Himself, all through life, and upon the Cross of Calvary; and you must love Him. And loving Him, you most become like Him. Love begets love. It is a process of induction…The love of God melts down the unlovely heart in man, and begets in him a new creature, who is patient and humble and gentle and unselfish.”
And there is no other way to get it.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
I Corinthians 13:7