About the Author
Cynthia Heald is a popular speaker and the author of the Becoming a Woman Of . . . Bible studies, which have sold millions of copies. Her passion is to help women walk more closely with God and live life to their full, God-given potential. She and her husband, Jack, are full-time staff with The Navigators in Tucson, Arizona.
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BECOMING A WOMAN WHO LOVESA Bible Study
By CYNTHIA HEALD
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Cynthia Heald
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Supremacy of Love
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There are three things that will endure-faith, hope, and love-and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NLT
Love is the most God-like state of the soul. God is not faith or hope; God is love. The Eternal does not believe or anticipate, but he does love-he is love. Love is the life of the soul. It warms every vein and beats in every pulse. David Thomas
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul addressed a group of believers who were preoccupied with seeking and practicing the most prominent spiritual gifts. To help them maintain a balanced perspective, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to pursue "a more excellent way" (1 Cor. 12:31 NKJV). The best way to minister to the body of Christ, he concluded, was to exercise the supreme virtue of love. Although he acknowledged the lasting value of faith and hope, even these would one day be eclipsed. For Paul to single out one virtue as the greatest, above all others, indicates that he had a firm conviction based on his own experience and his certainty of the heart of God. Categorically and boldly, he proclaimed that the highest, the loveliest, the preeminent virtue of all is love.
The Prominence of Love
1. To discover the heart of God and what He desires most for His children, we can examine His Word. What central theme is taught in each of the following Scriptures?
a. Mark 12:28-31
b. Romans 13:8-9
c. 1 Corinthians 13:13
d. 1 Corinthians 16:14
2. Of all the commands in the Bible and among all the great virtues, love reigns supreme. What do these passages communicate about why love is God's priority?
a. Romans 13:10
b. 1 Corinthians 8:1-3
c. Colossians 3:14
3. Our culture has given us many popular songs and sayings about the importance and beauty of love. List some of your favorite song titles or quotations, and then describe what kind of love is prized in our society.
Love being the most potent of forces, it is hardly surprising that the most overwhelming experiences of life should be those of being in love-first with God and then with another human being. There is no trick or a magician or spell of a witchdoctor, no drug or mesmerism or bribery or torture or coercion that can compare in power with the force for change unleashed in the human breast through the touch of love. Love is the greatest of teachers, for there is no authority more compelling, no power more hypnotically transfixing, no counsel more wise, no message we are more longing to hear, no other master for whom it is easier to give up absolutely everything in order to follow and obey. Mike Mason
The Highest Love
4. The world tends to glorify relational and physical love. But the greatest love, which Paul extols, is from a rarely used word in the Greek language, agape. It describes "a love that is based on the deliberate choice of the one who loves rather than the worthiness of the one who is loved." How do the following verses characterize this kind of love?
a. Psalm 145:8-9
b. Jeremiah 31:3
c. John 3:16-17
d. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them ... If I may dare the biological image, God is a "host" who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and "take advantage of" Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves. C. S. Lewis
5. Agape love is self-sacrificing, desiring the best for another. How has God demonstrated this kind of love to the world?
How has His unconditional love shaped your life?
Some of my favorite old love songs are by Irving Berlin: "I'll Be Loving You Always" and "How Deep Is the Ocean." I grew up listening to Elvis Presley sing, "Love Me Tender," and many times I would find myself humming, "What the World Needs Now Is Love, Sweet Love." Browning's poetic stanza, "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways," Tennyson's declaration, "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all," and the saying, "Love makes the world go round" captured my attention as a young girl.
I remember watching the Academy Awards one year when a movie actress was so overcome with emotion as she received an Oscar that she repeatedly cried, "You like me!" It is, indeed, a precious gift to be loved, wanted, and accepted.
Throughout history the incalculable value of love has been proclaimed in every art form and culture-personally, privately, and publicly. Certainly the Scriptures address the whole scope of love. Sexual love in the context of marriage is blessed by God, love between friends is prized, and agape love is presented as the highest and best to achieve.
C. S. Lewis offers a unique insight into this special agape love when he portrays God as the host who actively invites and welcomes His "parasitic" children to cling to and depend upon Him. The connotation of the word parasite is usually negative, because a parasite can ultimately destroy its host. There are, however, a few positive synonyms for the word parasite-"follower" and "attendant"-which perfectly describe those who choose to hold fast to the Lord God. Far from destroying this loving Host, God's children bring Him pleasure when they acknowledge and accept His kind invitation to be fed, protected, and nurtured by Him.
God has demonstrated the highest love for in Christ's sacrifice, He has accepte His dependent followers unconditionally. In this beautiful context of agape love, the "parasite" embraces faith, experiences hope, and receives eternal life. What an extremely gracious Host is our God, who generously imparts His love to all who desire to live with Him. In loving and clinging to Him, we can experience the greatest love that life has to offer.
We know but little now about the conditions of the life that is to come. But what is certain is that love must last. God, the Eternal God, is love. Covet, therefore, that everlasting gift, that one thing which it is certain is going to stand, that one coinage which will be current in the universe when all the other coinages of all the nations of the world shall be useless and unhonored. You will give yourself to many things; give yourself first to love. Henry Drummond
6. As you review this chapter, ask the Lord what He wants you to learn concerning the supremacy of love. Is there a verse on which you need to meditate or a teaching about which you need to pray so that love can begin to dwell in your heart in a more powerful way? Write down your thoughts and pray for God's love to invade your heart and teach you about what you personally need to become a woman who loves.
Scripture Memory Verse:
1 Corinthians 13:13
Excerpted from BECOMING A WOMAN WHO LOVES by CYNTHIA HEALD Copyright © 2007 by Cynthia Heald. Excerpted by permission.
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