Character empowered by love

Published 6:52 pm Saturday, March 18, 2017

By Larry P. Stover
Stover lives in Valley Grande and is pastor at Praise Park Ministries Church of the Nazarene.

Some of the greatest statements describing Christian “love” are found in 1 Corinthians 13, the great “Love Chapter” of the Bible.

As I continue on my journey this spring into the attributes of Christian character, I must examine some of the monuments to love found in this passage of scripture.

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Love is always others oriented rather than focusing upon one’s self.  Jealousy and envy should never be characteristics of the true follower of Jesus Christ.  We must learn to compliment other people who are able to get a better job, car or house. That is sometimes very difficult when you are working yourself to the bone and can’t seem to get ahead at all.

The bottom line is that envy and jealousy never satisfy, and they will go far in destroying valuable relationships.

Another attribute that I find in 1 Corinthians 13 is the issue of humility. Verse four admonishes believers not to be boastful or make a vain display of themselves. There is nothing wrong with being a little proud unless you get so wrapped up in yourself that no one wants to be around you. I’m proud of my family but I don’t allow that pride to become a form of idolatry in my life.

The Kings James Version uses the phrase “not puffed up.” I like that rendition because it reminds me of that person who brags. When real Christian love is at work, I realize that who and what I am is a gift from God and that I should give him praise and thanksgiving for all of his many blessings in life. Like Jesus, our role is not to be ministered but to minister to the needs of others.

Christian love is at the heart of our every action.  When I observe Christians who are rude, crude, and ill-mannered, I wonder if they realize that when empowered by “Holy Love” they should learn to be polite while using good manners and some tact when relating to other people.

When we accept Jesus Christ into our lives, the Bible teaches us that there is a real change and transformation. “Our old ways are gone, and everything becomes new.”

Christianity should evoke a real metamorphosis in our lives. When I can’t tell the difference between believers and non-believers, I often wonder if an individual’s “conversion” was genuine or not.

One of the great attributes of Christian character is learning to, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to “forgive and forget.” When we fail to integrate forgiveness into our Christin life, we tend to keep “records of wrongs.” These people often wear their feelings on their sleeves. Past issues constantly grind on them as they remember” what you did to them 25 years ago.

I will admit that this is not a natural tendency for anyone, even followers of Christ. When people challenge me on what the Bible has to say about forgiving others, I remind them that when God forgave them. He erased those issues and actions that he forgave completely. Scripture describes the breadth of that forgiveness as being “as far as the east is from the west.”

Isn’t it great that God does not keep rehashing our former acts of sin and disobedience?

Christians, let’s so impact our little corner of the world that everyone will know that we are a “new creation in Christ,” and that we are no longer the person we used to be. As we reflect Jesus Christ, everything will be “Simply Beautiful.”