“Love endures all things.”

“Love endures all things…”
A Message on Romans 5:1-5
For Jacksonville First United Methodist Church
June 12, 2022
By Doug Wintermute
dwinterm@yahoo.com

1 Corinthians 13:7d (NRSV)
“[Love] endures all things”

Romans 5:1-5 (NRSV)

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

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Today we are continuing our sermon series based on the “love chapter” of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, by exploring the topic, “Love endures all things…” Our text for this morning comes from Paul’s letter to the Romans that encourages us to endure, saying, “affliction produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

Endurance is the ability to keep going when times are tough. Hope is the mental aspect of that concept, but endurance implies both a mental and physical aspect. And I contend a spiritual one as well.

Here’s a story that I think illustrates that. Once there was a group of celibate monks that never left the monastery. One day they embarked on a pilgrimage which required them to walk through a nearby town.

The senior monk prepared the younger monks for the journey, reminding them of their vows of celibacy and telling them that on their journey they would more than likely come across women. “If we encounter women, please do not be distracted from your vows. If you find yourself attracted to a woman, endure that temptation with prayer by praying ‘Lord, help me.’ The Lord will then give you the strength to endure the temptation.”

So they go on their journey. As they are traveling through the town, the senior monk, walking in the lead, stubs his toe on a big rock. In great pain, he cries out, “Lord, help me.”

The young monks become frantic, looking around and saying, “Where? Where?” [Source: https://upjoke.com/endure-jokes ]

Now I tell that story to illustrate that when we pray to God for endurance, the result is often like when we pray for patience: instead of God giving us patience, he may instead give us opportunities to practice patience. When we pray to God for endurance, instead of giving us endurance, he gives us opportunities to practice endurance.

I think Paul explains this in the scripture we read from Romans 5. Here he lists endurance as part of a bigger, lengthier process.

“we also boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame…”

He starts with affliction. Now this can be physical, emotional, or spiritual. Afflictions are no fun. They are painful. They hurt. Afflictions are not something that we seek out, but experiences that find us even if we do our best to avoid them.

But Paul turns lemons to lemonade by pointing out that affliction produces endurance.

Endurance is like a rock with rough edges in a river. Slowly, over time, the water smooths away the rough edges of the rock and makes it into something different: smooth and beautiful.

But he doesn’t stop there. Endurance, when experienced, produces character. Enduring something affects who we are as human beings. Endurance, over time, molds our character into something different than what we were before, something better.

And that changed character in turn produces hope, which we talked about last week.

Endurance is one chapter in a bigger story of our faith lives. When we find ourselves having to endure tough times we can use it to strengthen our spiritual lives, or we can simply suffer.

I think of endurance one of the people I think of is the late Carol Haberle. On April 27, 2021, Carol passed away after a 40 year battle with Multiple Sclerosis.

When I came here 7 ½ years ago and met Carol she was well into the advanced stages of the disease. It had devastated her body, but not her mind. In visiting with her I discovered that she had such a joy of life and an almost supernatural optimism.

I was pleasantly surprised. Here was a woman confined to a wheelchair by a horrible, crippling disease, which had no cure, and which she knew would eventually take her life. And yet she was full of joy, loving life and smiling from ear to ear.

Not only that, but she had profound spiritual experiences. She gave me a copy of a notebook with writings of her experiences with the Holy Spirit. It blew me away.

When I think of endurance I also think of her husband Dave. This man took his wedding vow seriously, especially the part about “in sickness and health.” Dave took great care of Carol during her long illness. He would go home from his job at the basket factory everyday at lunch to feed her and take care of her. He endured her disease by doing for her what she could no longer do for herself. If you ask me, he epitomizes the scripture that love endures all things.

Love does endure all things. Love is the most powerful force in the universe. Love gives us the power to endure any hardship we might experience.

Love is best expressed on the cross of Jesus. It was there that the only Son of God, full God and fully human, sinless and perfect, endured terrible suffering and pain out of his love for every human being that is imperfect, that is stained by sin.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

Love is the source of the power that we need to endure, to persevere, when tough times come. “Lord, help me.”

So my challenge to you this week is to endure life’s tough times with grace. Lean upon and deepen your faith during those tough times, looking to Jesus Christ, the author and protector of our faith, whose death on the cross proves just how much you are loved.

And let us always remember, “affliction produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

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