Author: Ron Graham
If I dared to pick any fault in the way the Bible is written (and I wouldn't dare), I would say that the Bible too often makes the most fundamental statements in only a dozen words or less, and we mere mortals are prone to run over them without pause and to miss their importance. One such statement is the starting point for this present lesson...
"Let all that you do be done in love" (1Corinthians 16:14). Less than a dozen words, but what a grand ideal they convey! The Greek is even more amazingly brief, five words: which literally runs more or less like this: "All yours in love be done". When I am buried, I would like my tombstone to read like that. "All his deeds were done in love." I doubt, however, that I could rest in peace under such an epitaph, but I wish I could. It would be so nice.
Oh how we abuse that vord "nice." It means "fine" but we abuse that word too. When I use the word "nice", I refer to the elegance of that which has been carefully selected from the mass, like a vase fashioned from the lump of clay by the skilled potter, or the oil distilled from a herb. When your life is carried upon the wind like a sigh, and the wind whispers the summation, will the wind be saying that you did all in love? What a "nice" life that would be!
Is this an ideal beyond achievement? No, it is a command from God, therefore we must be able to achieve it, for God does not command the impossible (1John 5:2-3). So let us now see how we may put this ideal into practice and attain to it.
How can we be so all-embracing in our love? Let's turn the vord "all" into "each". If you take one thing, then another thing, and so on, if you take each thing one at a time, and carefully get into the habit of doing it in love, then that will quickly flow on to the next thing, and the next. When you learn to do habitually one thing in love, it becomes easier to acquire the habit for another thing and it brings you a step nearer to doing all things in love.
Say you get sick of taking the kids to school. You know it has to be done. They need you to do it for them. The way to their school is neither short nor safe. But it cuts into your day,ties you down. So easy to be sharp, to snap, "Hurry up you dawdler!" when the kid isn't really to blame. You can change that habit. You can make the going to school time a happy start to the day for your kids. Or, if you've got one of those kids who's like a bear with a sore head in the morning, then you can at least make yourself tolerant. You can make yourself "nice".
Christianity is called "The Way" and our living the Christian life is called a "walk" (Acts 19:23, Ephesians 5:15, cf Matthew 7:13-14). Peter reminds us that Christ set us an example that we should "follow in his steps" (1Peter 2:21). In a walk, we follow a way step by step.
The trouble with this sort of stuff, is that you grasp it for awhile, but it becomes a nine day wonder when it was meant to become a habit. The dedicated Christian is not loving in fits and starts, but loves constantly. How do we succeed in forming the habits that lead to achieving the ideal? We saw in our first point that the ideal is attainable. We saw in our second point that the secret is to form good habits. Yet we seem to have trouble doing that.
One of the reasons we don't manage to do ALL things in love, is that we try to do too many things. If we could simplify —if we could "nicely" refine our our lives to get rid of the worthless and needless things, then we would not be so easily and persistently distracted from forming the good habits we desire and which lead to the attainment of our ideal that we do all things in love.
Jesus says, "Seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness..." (Matthew 6:33). In a word, simplify. Look at your life. "Examine everything. Hold fast to what is good" (1Thessalonians 5:21). Let go of what pulls you aside from the essential. Let go of those things that thwart the opportunity for Jesus to form in you the habits that transform you into a new person who does all things in love.