February 12 I Friday
“Love never fails.” —1 Corinthians 13:8
As Christians, our ultimate goal must be to grow in unconditional—agape—love, not simply in knowledge but in action, where love becomes the definition of us. In 1951, an interesting incident took place in Manila, which relates perfectly to the love God has for us. During the 1949 Communist Revolution, all missionaries were driven out of China. A handful remained underground and others died, but by 1951, all missionaries had been expelled. During that year, 24 leaders of what was known as the China Inland Mission (now called OMF International), founded by Hudson Taylor, met to discuss their concerns about the risks and future of their work. During the course of these meetings, they had no sense of direction or of God leading them. Visiting Manila at that time was Kate Booth-Clibborn, the last surviving daughter of General William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army. She was invited to join them for a day of discussion. She listened attentively, and at one point, said, “May I ask a question: How do you spell ‘love?’” There was an awkward silence. All eyes searched each other, and just as someone was about to say the obvious, she intervened. “Would you allow me to tell you? It is spelled S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E. That’s how we spell ‘love.’”
Unconditional love is sacrificial and even if the process is slow, it is progressive. Paul tells us, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” Growing in love is slow, where we do not see much difference today compared to yesterday, but in a year, or even a decade, from now we notice a difference. As we mature, those childish things get put into the right perspective. Paul continues, “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:11-12).
The beauty is that we can quit faking and strip ourselves of any managed externals when we know we are fully known and are secure in the fact that the One who fully knows us, loves us fully—even with all the junk—and He is at work within us. When we fully experience God’s love in us, people do not have to dress up, put up a front or pretend to be loved by us; they are loved because of who they are.
May we truly love one another with a sacrificial costly love.
Prayer: Lord God, thank You for loving me so perfectly, even with my flaws and problems. Help me to be accepting of others fully as You have accepted me and love them as You have loved me. In Jesus’s name, amen!