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Do it and Mean it

Did you realize there are various forms of bankruptcy? I didn't know a person could declare themselves 'bankrupt' and still keep their stuff, but they can. They don't always have to 'liquidate' everything - there is this option to kind of 'rehabilitate' your financial status, while eliminating a whole lot of the debt one has created in life. In the simplest terms, being bankrupt means one is unable to satisfy any just claim made upon that individual; or their is this lacking in a particular thing or quality. Today, as our economy tanks and our finances seem to be the focus of so many conversations, I'd like to take a moment to really focus on something we seldom spend much time thinking about in terms of bankruptcy - love. We throw the word "love" around like it was a "thing" rather than a quality, or an outflow of a person's life. For anyone who has been around a while, it is not uncommon to have heard some familiar passages quoted from the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians. One of the best known: "And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." I'd like us to back up a little and focus on the third verse this morning.

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. (I Corinthians 13:3)

I think we have this concept of love that focuses more on some emotional experience than anything else. In looking at what Paul describes here, he begins with the ideas of saying, believing, and doing - all devoid of meaning without the "backing" of love. In terms of bankruptcy, when we have lost our 'backing', we have lost the ability to remain 'solvent'. From the perspective of our emotions and actions, I think he may be focusing on the idea of "doing" without "meaning" what we are doing. If you want a good illustration of this, think back to the last time you were somewhere and thought to yourself or even said to another, "I am here, but I'd rather be anywhere else!" The "doing" was happening, but the "meaning" was missing. You were "at work", but you weren't really "into" work! You were "in conversation", but you weren't really "involved" in conversation!

There is a void created every time we are "doing" without the corresponding emotional investment behind it. In life, we "do" a lot, but I wonder how much "meaning" is behind all our "doing"? Saying, Believing, and Doing. The words we say hold meaning - even if they are spoken in an absent-minded manner! The beliefs we form, and allow to be formed as a result of our actions, absolutely matter in the sense of how they will cause us or allow us to act. The actions we take often reveal much more than our words or our beliefs! Love cares more for others than for self. Link this to saying, and you see how we will not always have the last word. When we value the opinion of others, we don't continually need the last word to be ours. Link this to believing, and we begin to see the uniqueness of allowing another to develop their own understanding of things, prayerfully lifting them up so they will develop solid and consistent beliefs. Link this to doing, and we see how our actions reveal the importance of another in our lives.

Love doesn't revel when others grovel. Link this to saying, and you will soon find yourself not waiting for another to ask for assistance before you begin to respond to their need. Link this to believing, and you will begin to focus on building another's beliefs through constantly reinforcing the right ones and helping them to eliminate the ones that act as stumbling blocks in their lives. Link this to doing, and you will begin to lift another when they see themselves in any light other than as God sees them! Love always looks for the best. Link this to saying, and you will begin to find words that build up, avoiding those which do little more than point out faults. Link this to believing, and you will see others as God sees them - not as imperfect, but as perfect through Christ Jesus. Link this to doing, and you will begin to bring out the best in another - even when they are struggling to get the best out of themselves! Love is practical. It is real. It is tough, but anything genuine is always tougher than anything imagined! I hope this day is filled with all kinds of "saying", "believing", and "doing" that is "love-focused". In other words, "meaning" is behind or backing all we are saying, believing, and doing, so those actions aren't bankrupt and devoid of love! Just sayin!

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