June 7, 2010
Earnest is a word that we don’t use much. I hear it occasionally and even use it sometimes, but I don’t think about its definition very often. Honestly, I thought it meant to be really serious. However, I have recently discovered that the Bible uses this word in a different way.
In 1 Peter 1:22-25, Peter talks about the love that Christians should have for one another that eventually spills over to those that are not followers of Jesus. It is there that our word of the day appears. Peter says that Christians are to love one another earnestly. If the definition of earnest was serious it would make sense when Peter speaks of this love, but he intends more.
In this use of the word earnest Peter has the word sacrifice in mind. In this context he is using a word that was often used when people talked of skin stretching across a bone. He wants the reader to think about stretching or being caused to stretch. When was the last time you loved someone to the point that is caused you to sacrifice or be stretched?
We may love others, but it is rare that we are willing to be stretched in showing that love. It isn’t very often that we are willing really take a risk to show our love to others. When was the last time you risked your reputation, your money or your possessions to show love to someone else? When was the last time you stretched yourself to the limit to show love to God?
When we take risks it is often because we believe we are going to get something in return. That is not the way of love. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13, ESV)
God models this earnest love for us. Heaven stretched to earth to show the love of God. Jesus sacrificed His life on the cross to show His love. Will you receive that love? Will you reflect that love? May you do so earnestly.