Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Love Trumps.... Everything

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain
nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. I Corinthians 13

So if I don't have love, it doesn't matter if I have a testimony of Christ and can preach like an angel. It doesn't matter if I can tell the future, or read a person's heart. I can move mountains with my
faith but none.... not even faith...not even sola fide matters if I don't have love. Love is the greatest... even greater that faith. 

So, what keeps us from loving? 

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. I John 4: 18

God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.... Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. James 4: 6, 10


The moment is seared into my soul like few others. The New Bern, NC Catholic Church had assigned to me a RCIA sponsor because I didn't know any Catholics locally. In fact, I didn't personally know any Catholics, only the ones I had met online. 

My husband and I had been encouraged by online Catholic apologists to join the local Rite of
Christian Initiation classes in order to understand Catholicism. And we were not there to convert, just to learn about what Catholics believed. 

Eventually, each person who intending to actually join the Catholic Church was asked to find a sponsor. It used to be a "godmother" or "godfather" but for adults, the name was changed to sponsor. They gave me Sister Katherine, a very petite elderly nun who sat beside me each class with her head down and eyes closed. 

Once I asked her if she were sleeping and the nun answered back gently, "No, I am praying for you because you are full of pride." 
That wiped the smile off my face and I stuttered back some incoherent words. After class I fled with indignation and anger. "What a judgmental jerk! What? Can she read my heart and know I am full of pride? Why--if she were wanting me to become Catholic--would she say such a rude, condescending horribly hurtful thing to me?" I cried and screamed and threw a major old-fashioned southern-belle hissy-fit! All the way home and once there I continued to yell in my mind at the imaginary crowd of Catholics that I was certainly not prideful! I was a nice person. I was a kind person. What was the nun talking about?

Then all of a sudden my brain went quiet. And the Holy Spirit spoke as gently as the nun. "Are you full of pride?" Then as I looked deeper, scanning not my actions but much deeper down into very motivations for why I was kind...Oops... then, uh-oh... I knew I was full of pride. The nun was right. I knelt down horrified by the brutal self-realization that beneath all the niceness I was indeed a prideful person. Ouch. I prayed for forgiveness. 

And that is just the beginning. Daily, I need to pray that same prayer asking God to forgive my pride and grant me the grace to be humble so that I can more fully love Him and others. It's all about love! That is why I want to be humble.

Christ is now teaching me how to love and it is not an easy lesson. You can't learn to truly love with fear and pride in one's heart. 

We learn to love, not by working up a feeling of compassion and sympathy for others. We don't love by shedding tears of empathy. 

We learn to love through prayer and humble obedience to God. He gives us His love through His grace. We can't work it up on our own. It is His unmerited gift. 

We learn to love when we turn from our own pride and selfishness and sacrificially give to others. Love often it is in the harsh words of a little nun who smacks you with your own reflection in the mirror. 

Love Trumps Hate, yes. But love also trumps rights and self and fear and pride and faith and hope.