Have you prayed for patience? Beware! When you ask for patience, you’re asking for problems to come your way, because suffering and tribulation produced patience. You don’t want problems, don’t ask for patience.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5: 1-5 ESV
Have you asked God to fill your heart with love? God has poured out his love in our hearts; but for us to practice love, the virtue of virtues, He puts people in our path to help us practice that virtue.
To improve in any trade we need practice. We start learning from an early age. And we practice to perfect our skills. Do you want to perfect love? Thank God for the people in your life who get on your nerves. They will help you practice and perfect love in your life.
Forty years ago God taught me this truth. There were especially two people whom I could not stand. They were not bad people… it was just that we didn’t connect. I think deep down I was envious of them. Through tears I asked God to help me love them. I understood that through them God was helping me to practice and perfect love! Today we are good friends.
Through the years, there are many people I have said this about: Thank God for an opportunity to practice love! Now I have two people I’m practicing love on. Year after year I keep practicing! There is always someone new I need to show love! Until the day God calls me home I will continue perfecting love.
Now that I’ve decided to write about the fragrance of Christ it would be strange if there were no hurdles along the way.
Paul wrote to the church in Colossae:
Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
Love is the perfect bond. Love unites all virtues: kindness, humility, gentleness, patience…
To the Corinthians Paul wrote about the excellence of love (1 Corinthians 13). First he makes a contrast between:
Love and eloquence: If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
Love and faith: If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Love and charity: If If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
I can be eloquent, I can have all the faith in the world and I can make all kinds of charitable contributions; but if I don’t have love, it’s worthless. “Dear Lord, perfect love in each of your children.”
After this, Paul analyses love.
- Love is patient and kind
- Love does not envy or boast
- Love is not arrogant or rude
- Love does not insist on its own way
- Love is not irritable or resentful
- Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing
- Love rejoices with the truth
- Love bears all things
- Love believes all things
- Love hopes all things
- Love endures all things
- Love never ends
In coming weeks and months I will be making a study on these virtues, which I have set up in alphabetical order in Spanish, but it didn’t work out for the English language. The ABC’s of Fragrance will be in random order. The importance is not the perfect order of the words but that we spread the fragrance of Christ. How I long for the sweet scent of His love to be poured out to the world through my life! You, too?
Finally, after contrasting and analyzing love, Paul defends it: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
The greatest virtue is love. To be debt free… Doesn’t that sound good? To the Romans Paul writes that there should be one debt outstanding… the debt of love.
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8
Three commands about love include everything (Matthew 22:37-40; Luke 6:27-31):
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.
Love your neighbor
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Love your enemy
- love your enemies
- do good to those who hate you
- bless those who curse you
- pray for those who abuse you
Let’s have a wonderful year in understanding and spreading the meaning of the fragrance of Christ our Lord. I will celebrate 70 years of life, seventy years in fellowship with my beloved Savior. I know no other life and I would not exchange it for anything. There have been ups and downs; there will still be ups and downs, because while we live on earth we are imperfect. But, forgetting what lies behind I move forward. Amid all my imperfections I wish to spread the fragrance of Christ.
But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13,14
The studies on virtues to spread the fragrance of Christ will have examples of biblical characters. You can use them for personal devotions, for family-time devotions, or for teaching at church. Lord willing there will be a new study every two-three weeks.
Let the fragrance of love permeate your surroundings. Love is the virtue that binds everything together in perfect harmony.