Big Hearts … 1 Corinthians 13

Gifts and passions are important. And finding a place to serve in God’s Kingdom is vital to the health of the church. After all doing church is a team effort. But even the most awe-inspiring gifts like true prophecy and miraculous signs are meaningless without love. All the things that we do here on earth, whether scrubbing toilets or pastoring a mega-church, will fade away. All our glorious works and knowledge will disappear. But love will last forever. It is eternal. Doing Church As a Team is often emphasized at our church. And in doing our part as a team player, we are encouraged to “throw our hearts over the line” and do whatever we do with all our hearts and with big hearts. What exactly is a big heart? By definition, big is large. So big hearts are full hearts. They are filled up, almost bursting to overflowing. They aren’t shrunken, shriveled, or wrinkled bags of skin, devoid of substance. No, a big heart is full … full of kindness, full of mercy and patience, full of faith and hope and completely grounded in humility.

Love is kind. If someone is kind, they are gentle and friendly. They love to do good to others and to generously give of themselves and their things. Their words build up, not tear down. They first concern is always for the welfare of others rather than themselves. So they never demand their own way. Their hearts are always filled with a desire to bless others. They don’t get this desire from themselves. Their eyes and hearts are always fixed on the Lord in worship. In this constant communion with the Lord, they catch His heart. They are filled from above with a divine desire to bless others. Their hearts become so big from this in-filling from the Lord that the blessing naturally pours out and touches those around them. Love is kind, gentle, generous and self-sacrificing.

Love is patient and merciful. Kindness from the Lord transforms us into His image. It is His kindness that leads us to repentance, to turn away from sin and toward God. When we’ve been forgiven, God fills our hearts with kindness so that we can do to others what God did to us. Just as God showed us kindness in response to our sin against Him, we get to show kindness in response to those who sin against us. This is the true image of God in our lives. Received mercy allows us to forgive. It also allows us to be patient with those struggling with sin because we know that we ourselves have struggled and were forgiven, and that we still are struggling and are being forgiven. We know that it is only by grace that we stand. Therefore we know that we have no right to judge anyone else. We have no right to elevate ourselves over others. Instead, God fills our heart with mercy. This mercy allows us to be patient and not easily angered. Love is full of grace.

Love never gives up. Big hearts are so consistently full of kindness and mercy that are reliable and trustworthy. They become known for their faithfulness and loyalty. Big hearts are the foundation of the church because they provide stability for other. Because of kindness, big hearts aren’t stumbled by difficulty; they always keep on giving. Because of mercy, big hearts aren’t bombs that blow up on a short fuse; they always keep on forgiving. “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” If there is anyone who is dependable, it is God. Whenever I sin, the very moment I turn to God, He is always immediately ready with mercy and forgiveness. There is never a doubt that He will not be there. Those filled with love from above have big hearts that never fail.

Love is meek. The reason why God fills our hearts to make them big is not so that we can look at our great big hearts and admire them or put them on display for others to admire. He fills our hearts because, one, God loves us very much and, two, God wants to love others through us. His purpose is for relationship. Love is never about one’s self alone. That’s why big hearts are never boastful or proud. Pride elevates self and destroys relationship. Ego causes you to set yourself apart for self-glorification. Love instead gives everything away, including all glory and honor. With pride, in the end no one ever gets the glory because it becomes corrupt and fades away. Each prideful person becomes a black hole sucking up all the light but never giving any out. With love, everyone is giving and forgiving; everyone is reflecting with the light shined on them by others and the glory of God on all grows brighter and brighter. Big hearts are humble. They have a humility that is so natural, unassuming and child-like that they aren’t even aware they are being “humble”. They just are. Big hearts are naturally meek, always surrendering honor to the Lord. They are like John the Baptist whose motto was: He must become greater and I must become less.

God is love. Love is the very essence of God’s being. Big hearts are so saturated with this essence of the life that it inevitably overflows to bless those around and even to touch the nations. This is what Jesus meant when He said to let your light shine so that others may see it and glorify your Father in Heaven. This is what He meant when He said that streams of living waters will flow from you.

Lord, fill me! Fill me to the brim with the water of life and transform me into a vessel full of love like You did when You turned plain water in to fine wine at the wedding in Cana. Give me a big heart that I may love You and love my neighbors. You are so awesome, Lord, and I want to be just like You.

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