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Monday, 30 January 2017 07:34

The Only Love That Endures Forever

Written by  Grady Smith
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Have you been to a wedding recently and noticed the faces of the couple?  I love the way they beam with delight experiencing the height of the feeling of love.  Yet, in that very emotional moment, when I officiate weddings, I remind us all that we cannot relegate love to being only an emotional feeling that comes and goes.  In reality, love is not simply a feeling, though it does have an emotional component.  Love is something that also is demonstrated by action. 

However, such an understanding of love becomes uncomfortable as it can quickly bring conviction.  We say we love others, but our actions betray us.  We say we love our spouse, but out of the same mouth we can say hurtful things to him/her.  We say we love our kids, but out of the same mouth we express anger or impatience with them.  And, even worse, we say we love God, but with the same mouth we use to praise Him on Sundays, we say non-loving things to others neglecting what Christ said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  Not only have we done these things, in this fallen world we have experienced the pain of others who have done them to us. They say they love us, yet their actions betray their words and we feel hurt and rejection.

If we are not careful, we can become disillusioned with the idea of love, but we must not.  There is a love that never fails.  This love is unchanging, constant, steadfast, and eternal.  It is a love that existed before the world began, and a love that will still be around ten trillion years from now.  That love is the love that God has for His people.  We need to take time to consider His unchanging love so that we may be amazed by it and worship Him in response to it.

For anyone who is a follower of Christ, Psalm 136 is a passage that I pray will fill your heart with hope.  Let me encourage you to pause and read it now.  It is a Psalm that was used by God’s people in the temple worship.  We believe it was sung responsively.  The priest read the first line and the people replied with the second.  Notice the response of the people is the same every time - “for his steadfast love endures forever.”  Line after line, God’s children are reminded that they can give thanks because God’s love lasts, not just for a little while, but for forever.  As you read through this Psalm, you will see that it begins with a reminder of God’s character and sovereign reign over all things (verses 1-3).  From there, the remainder of the Psalm reminds us of God’s power and love as evident in a variety of things:  His creation (verses 4-9), His deliverance of the Israelites (verses 10-16), and His provision a home for them (verses 17-22), and His ongoing provision and care for His people (verses 23-26). 

Notice what the Psalmist did here.  He reminded the people of what has happened in their history.  Then he turns that history into theology, showing how what they experienced reminds them of God’s power and love, which ultimately reminds them of God’s unchanging character.  But notice what he does next; he turns theology to worship!  In each reminder in this Psalm of who God is and what He has done, the people respond in worship with “his steadfast love endures forever.”

Regardless of your circumstances today, realize that if you are in Christ, God’s love for you is unchanging.  God loves you not because of you, but because He made you, redeemed you, and now sees you covered with Christ’s righteousness.  And as God’s child, let His love and grace at work in you provide you the strength you need to love others as well.

 

Grady Smith is the new pastor of Gateway Baptist Church in Montgomery.  He received his M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and previously served on a church staff in Auburn for 14 years.  He is married to Julia and they have three young children.

 

Last modified on Monday, 30 January 2017 07:42
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