Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.1 Corinthians 13:7 (NLT)
A few years ago I did a sermon illustration with a fit young man. I was discussing how much weight God had to hold up during the Israelites Red Sea crossing as told in the book of Exodus. (It was billions of pounds of water, by the way – and He held it up all night.) I handed this particular young man two one-gallon jugs full of water. I asked him to raise the jugs above his head, one in each hand, and demonstrate how long he could hold them up. Since each jug weighed just over eight pounds, the task seemed simple. However, even though this young man was in very good shape, he surrendered after about two minutes. It wasn’t a bad effort, and certainly longer than I could have done it. But, it served as a demonstration between God’s endurance and ours.
As we discussed before, we are to have, hold, and demonstrate the same love that God has for each of us – unconditional, grace-filled, merciful, intimate love. But, here, the Apostle Paul adds another something to the mix. Love never gives up. In other words, it never surrenders. On the surface this seems easy, like lifting a couple of jugs full of water. But, when faced with reality, this is a super-human task. How do we love someone who refuses to love us back? How do we love someone who despises us? How do we love someone who doesn’t want to be loved? How do we love someone who is very different from us? The list of how is endless.
The answer is basic in its nature, yet critical to our lives. It’s not our love. We are called to love others with the love of God. It’s His love. He loves them through us. We are His proxy, if you will, to demonstrate the love of God. And, God’s love answers all of the “how” questions we have. God’s love never grows tired or weak. God’s love loved others even as they were murdering His Son. God’s love never grew less while He was being crucified. God’s love didn’t just love the Jews, but includes anyone on earth. God’s love transcends all understanding and never surrenders. God’s love is eternal. It has always existed.
So today, and every day, pray that God’s love will flow out of you and into others. Pray that His love will impact all of those around us, no matter who they are or where they’ve been.