The gardener found a place with a perfect amount of sun to suit the cravings of the rose bush. He was cautious to dig deep as he planted his prized plant. He understood the importance of drainage for the root system, as well as allowing the rose bush room to grow. The gardener adored roses, and he knew if he poured out himself into the rose bush, there would be seasons of plenty.
The gardener watched over the rose bush, spoke to it, cared for it. He carefully inspected the rose bush. He could imagine the roses that would one day bloom. He placed banana peels gently alongside the roots to promote flowering. He kept the soil moist while keeping the foliage dry. He knew exactly what was needed for the rose bush to grow and bear a beautiful selection of buds. He cherished the rose bush. It was his.
As time progressed, the gardener allowed others to assist with the care of the rose bush. The people that helped the gardener were each related to the gardener, but each helper could never be as great as the gardener. The helpers could never love the rose bush as much as the gardener and so the helpers never poured themselves completely into the rose bush. Whereas the gardener focused attention on creating and growing the rose bush, the helpers were content for it to simply exist as it is—never seeking to help it be more, to help it be what it was destined for in life. The helpers barely glanced at the instructions given to them by the gardener.
One day, as a helper was watching over the rose bush, the aphids invaded. The aphids showed up early in the life of the rose bush and they reproduced rapidly. Each of the aphids took from the rose bush. They sucked the juices from the plant. The aphids damaged the rose bush, leaving it broken and lacking. The helpers never even noticed. The outward appearance of the rose bush never gave the helpers any excuse to look closer—again, the helpers were satisfied that the rose bush simply existed. The helpers could never love the rose bush as did the gardener.
Following the invasion of the aphids, the ants arrived. The ants were attracted to the honey dew that was left by the aphids. The rose bush was scarred and broken. The damage was done. The gardener could detect the damage done to his plant, but the helpers overlooked the streaked leaves and misshapen blooms. The gardener knew what his beautiful rose bush was destined to look like in full bloom—the helpers were satisfied with blooms of any kind. Apart from the gardener, no one noticed because no one cared.
It was now time to harvest. People came by in droves to take from the rose bush. The helpers enjoyed this because the harvest brought them attention, money, and pleasure. Everyone wanted to have their own collection to use for their own purposes. For some, it made them feel special to have some of the roses to display at home. For some, the roses were used to beautify an area where people gathered for a time. For some, the roses were used as a declaration of love or as a sweet goodbye. Everyone took from the rose bush to satisfy their own needs.
As the harvest ended, the rose bush was nearly bare. It was clear that the rose bush was not in good health. The helpers never really cared for the rose bush. While pruning the plant, seeking out the healthy white centers, it was very evident that the plant was dying. What had become of the rose bush? Everyone took from the gardener’s beautiful plant. They took and took some more, until all that was left was a diseased, broken rose bush.
Now it appeared that this would be the last bloom. The pruning showed the plant was beyond help. The helpers, the ones who were supposed to care for the plant for the gardener, had instead took everything from it. Carelessly watching over the plant was to them all about what they could receive, what they could enjoy, what they could possess. What the gardener said to love and honor, the helpers decided to stampede and pilfer.
One last person approached a helper for a small collection of the blooms. He asked, “Please, let me have this small clipping. I adore the roses.” The helper was now wise to know that there was no chance left for the rose bush. He and his friends had failed to uphold what was entrusted to them. In a last-ditch effort, he imagined that perhaps this last person could treat the roses better and there could be redemption of their misdeeds. The helper clipped the final blooms from the rose bush and handed them to the man. The rose bush was now completely bare.
The man took this last bit of life of the rose bush to his home. He really liked the roses, so he said. Soon his declaration was shown to be false, as he only displayed them for a brief time. He stared at the roses and became aware of the imperfections. He saw the streaks. He saw the misshapen blooms. He became disgusted by this, the last collection of roses that remained. The man tossed the roses in the bin and deposited them outside in the trash the next morning.
All this happened while the gardener looked on. He looked on to see his beautiful roses destroyed by the helpers. He watched as the man became disgusted by the imperfections that resulted. He saw his cherished rose bush become nothing more than sickly mildew covered leaves, and branches that would grow nothing more. He knew of what was to become for the rose bush—what could have been, what should have been. If only the helpers could understand what it truly meant to love. If only the helpers could have seen the beauty in the broken. If only the helpers would have appreciated the rose bush and fought for the rose bush.
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” ~ Romans 12:10 [NLT]
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
- Love is Patient… fill in gaps with GRACE
- Love is Kind… do GOOD & be GENEROUS to all
- Love Rejoices with Truth… DELIGHT in truth
- Love Always
“Love Always”… used to use this as my signature for cards and letters
Realized that I do not “Love Always.”
Always means ALL THE TIME
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (ESV)
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13:7 Living Bible (TLB)
7 If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
1 Corinthians 13:7 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW)
7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
1 Corinthians 13:7 The Passion Translation (TPT)
7 Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love BEARS all things – Love BEARS always
YOU WILL BE LOYAL TO HIM NO MATTER WHAT THE COST
YOU WILL NEVER STOP BEING PATIENT
LOVE COVERS… PROTECTS
1 Peter 4:8 (NASB)
8 Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
Charles Spurgeon noted that… “This love both covers and bears all things. It never proclaims the errors of others. It refuses to see faults unless it may kindly help in their removal. It stands in the presence of a fault with a finger on its lips.”
Love BELIEVES all things – Love BELIEVES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS BELIEVE IN HIM
Expect the best of others (of what’s in them now)
You recognize they are made in the image of God — you see the very best in them now
You believe in someone until you are shown otherwise – give benefit of the doubt
Romans 12:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Faith in what God has made available now
Love HOPES all things – Love HOPES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS EXPECT THE BEST OF HIM
Expect the best of others (of what is to come)
You recognize that God has a greater purpose in a person’s life, a plan & purpose of His design — you see what God wants to do in a person’s life.
Love looks forward with confidence & grace
Trust that expects fulfillment of the future promises of God
1 Timothy 4:10 English Standard Version (ESV)
10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
Romans 8:24 The Passion Translation (TPT)
24 For this is the hope of our salvation.
But hope means that we must trust and wait for what is still unseen. For why would we need to hope for something we already have?
Love ENDURES all things – Love ENDURES always
YOU WILL ALWAYS STAND YOUR GROUND IN DEFENDING HIM
YOU WILL NEVER GIVES UP
To endure – To remain under
Perseveres despite situations / circumstances
No matter what!
1 Corinthians 9:12 (NASB)
12 If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
In Closing, look to God to understand what it means to LOVE ALWAYS…
Love Bears… God bears… He pours out grace & mercy despite your sins and shortcomings. Your sins cannot stand up to His grace.
Love Believes… God believes the best in you – God designed you for His good purpose & God sees you as His Son.
Love Hopes… God has your future beautifully orchestrated & God sees who you will be – the beautiful masterpiece
Love Endures… God loves NO MATTER WHAT… He truly LOVES ALWAYS!
The Bible tells us that we are to honor people above ourselves. Some translations say that we are to “outdo one another in showing honor” (ESV, HCSB). This can also be translated as “excel in showing respect for each other” (GW). This respect or honor is not something we see often.
When you show respect to another person you are acknowledging them and showing that they matter. The verse tells us to “love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” Not only must we love with true affection, but we should be eager to honor one another. This requires humility and grace.
How have you honored something recently? How have you reached out to show someone that they matter? Today, consider how you can do this with both word and deed. Take delight in honoring someone.
“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:10 [NLT]
I recently moved and I’ve had to make a lot of phone calls to get some things organized. I noticed that while I was getting everything in order, that I hesitated to make the telephone calls. I looked to see if I could contact people online instead of making the actually physical phone calls. When I had to initiate my internet, I decided to active online. When I had difficulties, I even chatted with a representative because I felt it would be quicker and not eat up my cell phone minutes. At the same time, I really did not want to be on the telephone.
I didn’t find anything to be a problem until I noted that I had some things left to do, and everything on the list was what needed actual telephone calls. I had avoided making the calls. I was disconnected. This was something we spoke about in my media ministry course last semester. Our society has gotten so accustomed to communicating online and with technology that there is this great lack of people being connected with people. We even send a text message or chat on Facebook with people who are in the same room.
I am not against technology. I love technology. However, I think that we need to make sure that we do not spend so much time with technology that we try so hard to not connect with people in person and on the telephone. Sometimes people need to know that a real person cares about them, that another actual human being was thinking about them enough to take the time to call or to stop by for a visit.
I see a lot of images on Facebook depicting a cell phone screen shot showing God calling or sending a text message. The image is accompanied with the question on whether a person would answer and respond or not. I like that image because it makes a statement about society– that we are very much into technology– but that God meets us where we are at in life. At the same time, I believe He also would stop by and visit. He would sit with you and spend the afternoon together. He would call and send a text message. God wants to be connected to you. In John 15, Jesus speaks about the need for the disciples to stay connected to the vine. If the branches are unattached, they will not bear fruit.
Today you might be busy, overwhelmed with a list of things to do that surely will take you most of the day. You may not think you have the time to visit or call anyone. Perhaps you are tired and simply don’t feel like taking the initiative. I challenge you to make some time, visit or call someone you haven’t talked to in awhile, and simply enjoy their company. You may need the call more than they do. Also, spend time with God. Remember the branch cannot do much when unattached to the vine. He’s always available!
“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:9-10 [NLT]
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 [NASB]