Love Suffereth Long

Glen Head

There is a song that has been going through my mind for several days and I can’t help but replay some of the lyrics in my head. “When my love for Christ grows weak” is the first one and I feel bad because in the past my love for Christ has done exactly that. “When my love for man grows weak” is another lyric that keeps ringing in my ears. That line doesn’t bother me as much until I really think about it. Then the line that tears me up is “Learning all the worth of pain; learning all the might that lies in a full self-sacrifice.”

Many times giving up is just too easy! A self-sacrifice involves humility, love, patience, the fruit of the Spirit. (Gal. 5:22-23) Crucifying the flesh with the affections and lusts. (Gal. 5:24) Dying to self. The old man dying and being created anew in Christ. The new man dying from the thoughts of the world and renewing himself or herself everyday. “If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Gal. 5:25-26) When our love for men grows weak, is it a time we absorb into self? Do we saturate ourselves with pity and does our self esteem dwindle down to almost nothing? When our love for Christ grows weak, do we seek satisfaction in the things of the flesh? Why do we sing this song? Is it a pity me and shame on you song? Or is it a song of deep reflection? Why do we sing it mostly before the Lord’s Supper?

The start of the downhill slope probably begins with our closest allies on this earth – someone in our family. How can we live so close to someone like our spouse or children for years and years and not get bent out of shape or worldly-minded from time to time? What about the people we work with? Many times we spend more time around these people than we do our own families. At least our families try to be spiritually minded, but our coworkers? Doesn’t it seem like they try to take pride in how angry or upset they can make us? What about Satan? He wants us to fail miserably in our attitude toward others. All of these mentioned would love to point out that the “mighty Christian” has fallen from his or her throne momentarily. If any one of these individuals were Christians, except for Satan of course, they would have lost love and faith for mankind. When we let the cares and concerns of this world bog us down it doesn’t take long before we start questioning our faith, or the faith of others.

“When my love to Christ grows weak,” it isn’t because of what He has done, it’s because of what is going on around us. Many in the world are pushing ungodly agendas and persecuting those that oppose them. In the brotherhood there are many remaining faithful to the Savior, but doesn’t it just take a handful to fall away to cause us to be discouraged? I appreciate the lyrics that cause us to look at our faith more deeply. Many times we want to focus on the misdeeds of the world and look at our lack of faith when we should have our eyes on Christ:

a) “Then in tho’t I go to Thee, Garden of Gethsemane!” This is where Jesus earnestly prayed to the Father and the end result was GOD’S WILL being done.

b) “See that suffering friendless One, Weeping, praying there alone.” Who are we to dwell on and pity our lonely selves when we remember the friendless one that the world hated.

c) “When for stronger faith I seek, Hill of Calvary! I go, To Thy scenes of fear and woe.” Why is thinking about the cross such a comfort for Christians? To those that were there, John, Mary the mother of Jesus, her sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas and Mary Magdalene (John 19:25); they felt the fear and they felt the woe. Can we fully understand that Christ not only died in their stead, but also in ours? Maybe the cross should bring tears to our eyes.

d) “There behold His agony, Suffered on the bitter tree; See His anguish, see His faith.” Maybe, probably, this is why it is a great memorial song. At this time in our worship service the cross brings us to the reality of the pain and torture of the death of our Lord.

e) “Love triumphant still in death.” This is where we learn about love. How can we learn about love from imperfect and selfish humans? We can’t. We must learn love from the One who is love. Why is the Gospel so powerful? Because of Christ’s “full self-sacrifice.” Why is 1 Corinthians 13 almost always referred to as the love chapter? Because in verses 4-7 we see love as a “full self-sacrifice.” And it never faileth! In these verses we see the essence of our Savior!

If we don’t apply the example of “full self-sacrifice” in our own lives, what domino effect will it have? We will be like the world; our marriages won’t last, our relationships with our children will fail, friendships will be only skin deep, brothers and sisters in Christ will always be at each others throats, elderships will be for self gain, ministers of God’s Word will be preaching and teaching for material gain, governments will be controlled by religious fanatics, the list can go on. It will be similar to now. People will be spiritually weak, yet hitting the zenith of immorality. This is not Christianity!

When we fully lean on Christ as our example then we can make meaning of these words and have comfort, “Then to life I turn again, Learning all the worth of pain; Learning all the might that lies —– In a full self-sacrifice.” This is a Christian! Sacrificing ourselves for others. Daily!