You’ve probably heard 1 Corinthians 13 before. It is often called the “love chapter.” You’ve probably heard it read at weddings. I grew up hearing it in songs. I colored pictures in Sunday school with it printed on the bottom. But it’s something I have to remind myself of, when I’m about to welcome people into my life.
Being a host doesn’t mean doing all the things Good Housekeeping says is amazing. Being a host means loving the people you’re with. Whether that’s in your home or in your car or on Zoom (hi post-2020 world!) or in the school office or in the Starbucks line. And wouldn’t you know it, God tells us, in His Word, a whole lot about what love looks like:
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Cor. 13:4-8)
Whew! All over the Bible, God tells us to love others. He tells us to do it sacrificially. To do it like Him. But here’s the problem: I’m not great at doing those things. So where does that leave me? Where does that lead me?
It leads me to Romans 7 and 8. I want to be a good person. I’m not. I want to be a good host. I’m the worst. I want to be more thankful than I am discontent. More selfless than I am greedy. More open than I am afraid. But I fail so much. I want to be a good everything, but my selfishness often wins the day.
So I need to remember what Paul wrote to the Romans, inspired by the Holy Spirit. I have to remember that I, like the apostle Paul, “want to do what is good, [but] evil is present with me” (Rom. 7:21b). I need to echo Paul in my heart (and I often do)—“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (v. 24).
Have you ever felt that way? How can I be this messed up? How could I have said that? How will any of this get fixed? Who will rescue me from my own terribleness?
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Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with my mind I myself am serving the law of God, but with my ﬂesh, the law of sin. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. (Rom. 7:25-8:1)
Who will save us from these bodies of death? Not us. The pressure is off, you guys. God wants us to love Him. He wants us to love others as we’ve been so loved. But it’s not up to us to conjure up the right words and systems and ways. It takes a miracle, but it isn’t our miracle. It’s God’s. It’s God’s work. It’s God’s power. It’s God’s pressure. It’s God’s Son.
If we want to glorify the Lord in how we serve people, then we need to prioritize enjoying the Lord. We need to come before Him and let Him love us. Shape us. Fill us. Strengthen us. God gives us grace in place of condemnation. He gives freedom in place of fear. Of course, “Mary has made the right choice.” And why would we not make that choice? When we let the Spirit of God work in us at the feet of Jesus, He moves in us and gives us joy, empathy, compassion, humility, and love.
I pray for that. I want that. I want to look less like me and so much more like Him. When people come to my house or read my books or sit through school programs next to me, I want them to think about God.
In my most human moments, I spend my brain space Martha-ing out about what I’m going to wear or cook or say or do. But, as I’m experiencing the joy of my salvation, I pray that God makes me into someone that helps people see the beautiful gospel that will change their lives forever.
Scarlet Hiltibidal joins Sheila Walsh this Wednesday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted from You’re The Worst Person In The World by Scarlet Hiltibidal. Copyright 2022 by Scarlet Hiltibidal. Published by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.