What Matters Most to God in a Disciple (Part 11)

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7–8a NIV). Love doesn’t quit!

  As He continues speaking to us through the pe9570809085?profile=originaln of Paul, God identifies four ways that distinguish a maturing disciple who reflects His enduring agape love. All four are related to our relationships—which is not surprising, since life is mostly about relationships.

  First, love protects. A maturing disciple neither slanders others nor encourages it by gossiping with slanderers.

  Rather than gossiping about their faults, whether suspected or true, the disciple protects and preserves the reputation of others by keeping silent in public (Proverbs 10:12; 1 Peter 4:8). This helps “cover” or shield the person from attack. Any appropriate confrontation is initiated personally and privately (Leviticus 19:16,17; Matthew 18:15).

  As a young boy, I recall a teacher’s wise advice about careless talk: “Before you say something about someone else, ask yourself three questions: (1) Is it true? (2) Is it kind? (3) Is it necessary?”

  Second, love trusts. A maturing disciple chooses to believe the best in others. Unfair though it may be, when a rumor begins about the bad attitude, word, or action of another person, people often believe it too readily. I know that at times I have accepted a rumor too hastily, and I also know of times that I’ve been victimized by rumor. Have you? Either way, it hurts people and it harms relationships.

  God calls on His disciples to believe the best in others, not to delight in their demise. Is that rumor true? What is the other side of the story? How would I want others to respond if that rumor was about me? True or not, how does God want me to “cover” that person with His agape love?

  Trusting others, however, does not mean that God wants a disciple to close their eyes to realities around them. Like Paul, a disciple sees problems and discerns solutions that will help others move forward in their relationship with God and with others. That’s how we build each other up.

  Third, love hopes. Coupled with trust in others is the firm conviction and expectant desire that a person—even one who has severely missed the mark—can change. This, too, is evidence of agape love.

  How many times have you heard or experienced the transforming impact of a parent’s trust in the value of an errant child, a teacher’s encouragement of a struggling student, or a coach’s praise of an athlete’s potential? It’s because of loving hope that the parent sets and enforces rules at home, that teacher still gives challenging assignments, and that coach still runs demanding workouts.

Fourth, love perseveres. The maturing disciple stands firmly beside that other person. He or she does not abandon that disappointing friend, neighbor, or family member.

“Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:7–8a NIV). Love doesn’t quit!

How’re you loving as you walk through this week?

© 2018 John C Garmo

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