1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (AMP)
13 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not [a]love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing. 3 If I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body [b]to be burned, but do not have love, it does me no good at all.
4 Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. 5 It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. 6 It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. 7 Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening].
The love passage. Believers and non-believers know these verses- and hurl them at one another frequently. It was read aloud at our wedding. I thought I loved my Prince Charming. I realize now that this Cinderella had NO idea what love was; how to receive-or give it. Then our kingdom expanded. We had 4 kids! Again, I had NO idea how to care for, much less love those tiny humans we brought home from the hospital. Then there’s others (not the others who lived on the island the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 crashed onto in the ABC Series “LOST”). I mean others who don’t live in my home- which includes you.
Allow me to confess:
I don’t love my husband.
I don’t love our kids.
I don’t love you.
Yes, I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior.
Yes, I’ve been baptized.
Yes, I’m part of the body of Christ.
Yes, I’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit.
Yes, I serve others in the church.
Yes, I give to the poor.
Yes, I speak with the tongues of man and angels.
Yes, I have the gift of prophesy.
Yes, I understand some mysteries.
Yes, I have some knowledge.
Yes, I have some faith.
No, I don’t always endure with patience.
No, I am not always kind.
No, I am not always void of jealousy.
No, I don’t always crucify my rudeness (sarcasm anyone?!)
No, I am not always slow to anger.
No, I don’t always forgive and forget being wronged.
No, I don’t always look for the best in people (honestly, I rarely look for the best in people).
Allow me to confess, again:
I love Jesus.
He saved me.
He forgave me.
He delivered me…and is STILL delivering me- from fear. Fear of man. Fear of being hurt by man, again. Fear of being a victim of man, again. BUT, despite the experiences I’ve had in my past and recent present, there is still hope! Hope of being set free from fear. Hope of being set free from the One who is love. So, I will continue to abide in Him so that He can be completed and perfected in me. Moment by moment, day by day, year by year, I will sit at His feet and be filled to overflowing with His perfect love which casts out fear. And when I rise to do the work He has called me to (which involves my husband, kids, and you) His Spirit will pour out, and I will love others… because He first loved me.
1 John 4:15-19 Amplified Bible (AMP)
15 Whoever confesses and acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 We have come to know [by personal observation and experience], and have believed [with deep, consistent faith] the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides continually in him. 17 In this [union and fellowship with Him], love is completed and perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment [with assurance and boldness to face Him]; because as He is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love]. 19 We love, because [a]He first loved us.
Luke 5:17-26 (NLT)
17 One day while Jesus was teaching, some Pharisees and teachers of religious law were sitting nearby. (It seemed that these men showed up from every village in all Galilee and Judea, as well as from Jerusalem.) And the Lord’s healing power was strongly with Jesus.
18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a sleeping mat. They tried to take him inside to Jesus, 19 but they couldn’t reach him because of the crowd. So they went up to the roof and took off some tiles. Then they lowered the sick man on his mat down into the crowd, right in front of Jesus. 20 Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the man, “Young man, your sins are forgiven.”
21 But the Pharisees and teachers of religious law said to themselves, “Who does he think he is? That’s blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? 23 Is it easier to say ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up and walk’? 24 So I will prove to you that the Son of Man[a] has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!”
25 And immediately, as everyone watched, the man jumped up, picked up his mat, and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was gripped with great wonder and awe, and they praised God, exclaiming, “We have seen amazing things today!”
There are Facebook “friends” – and there are loyal friends. Loyal friends become brothers in time of need. Brothers help. Brothers are carrying men.
Proverbs 17:17 (NLT)
17 A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in time of need.
Carrying men will pick up on your sleeping mat. Carrying men will try to take you to Jesus. Carrying men won’t be intimidated by the crowd. Carrying men will go up to the roof and take the tiles off! Carrying men will lower your mat right in front of Jesus.
Carrying men have great faith.
Carrying men love God with all their heart, mind, soul & strength. Carrying men love you, as they love themselves.
Carrying men aren’t satisfied to sit beside you & hold your hand while you lie on yoursleeping mat. Carrying men aren’t satisfied watching you remain paralyzed with fear, pride, selfishness, unforgiveness, anger, sexual sin or unbelief. Carrying men aren’t satisfied until they help you get to where you need to be. Carrying men use the strength God has given them to pick you up. Carrying men know that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Carrying men believe that Jesus can forgive you from sin. Carrying men have faith that Jesus can heal you from paralysis!
Will you allow your carrying friends to take you to Jesus?
Will you receive forgiveness from the Savior of the world?
Will you obey the Lord’s command to stand up, pick up your mat and go home?
Surrender your will, my friend. Great wonder and awe of God awaits you, the carrying men – and the crowd.