This is the 10th post for the series A January of Unwrapping Hope. It is linked up to #TellHisStory and was inspired by Bonnie Gray’s One Word Coffee prompt to reflect on One Word in the following Scripture. I rested on “delight” and discovered that His delight is awakening mine in Him.
“The Lord your God is in your midst. He will take great delight in you; he will quiet you by his love; he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge,and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poorand give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Like many others of you, I’m sure, I’ve read this passage countless times. But tonight is the first time I read it with new eyes. You see, I have always read what Love is, expecting I should be able to emulate it and where I couldn’t despairing of my failure and sinfulness. But tonight I noticed this one sentence: “For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” And it made me stop in my tracks.
Suddenly, I saw this passage as an invitation to embrace Love. The Bible tells us that God is literally Love (1 John 4: 8). And so, it is in God that we are made complete, that Love takes hold of our life and gifts us the desires of our heart – patience, kindness, no envy, no boasting, no pride, no dishonoring of others, no self-seeking, no easily angered spirit, no record-keeping of wrongs, no delighting in evil, rejoicing with the truth, always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, always persevering – as we are naturally drawn to delight in the Lord.
But we are also told: “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” So, I will know these gifts of Love in part now, but I will know them in full when all of my flesh passes away and my spirit is made capable of both fully embracing and being fully embraced by Love, as my “part” is replaced by His “completeness”. And this too is His Gift to me, just as He gifts in part now.
For, it is He who gifted me faith as a child, it is He who gifted me hope after my mother passed away, and it is He who has slowly been gifting me the “greatest” part of Himself: Love. And as He’s been encouraging me to embrace this Love, both my faith and my hope are being transformed.
I always saw faith as “being strong in the Lord” shown by good deeds and “hope” as the assurance of seeing our loved ones again. But, as He’s been holding out His Love to me and drawing me into it, faith is becoming a belief in the absolute goodness of our God, no matter the circumstance and both resting and moving forward in that assurance, while hope is becoming a growing excitement at meeting Jesus and beholding His Love face-to-face.
It is Love that is gifting me true enduring, abiding Hope and a freeing, strengthening, securing and emboldening faith. And it is not me “trying” to abide or “trying” to be good, it is me being moved by the Spirit to embrace Love, which is directly causing me to seek after, thirst and hunger after, delight in, worship and sing praises to the Lord. I hear, see, feel and sense His Love in my life, as He calls me unto Himself. We love, you see, because Christ first loved us (1 John 4 : 19). But as the Word tells us, it is Christ that opens our hearts to receive this Love (Luke 18: 27, Luke 24: 45).
For me, it is suffering that God used to open my heart. Suffering stripped me of the protective layers I had covered my heart in and made me yearn after true Love. I wrestled with God, screaming out in rage: my true helpless, sinful, powerless, aching self facing the powerful, comforting, gracious Rock. The God who was “earnestly waiting [ expecting, looking and longing ] to be gracious to me” stooped down to pick me up and embrace me in “mercy” and “loving-kindness” (Isaiah 30: 18 AMPC).
And each step I have taken in Him since is leading me deeper and deeper into His Love, slowly but surely ripping off the protective layers that I naturally move to place back over myself. And in doing so, He is taking over to make my natural inclinations mirror His. So, my delight in the Lord is growing as His delight in me is awakening me to His Love. It is in Him I live and move and have my being (Acts 17: 28)…and what an incredible hope-giving and life-transforming being that is!