Yesterday, I listened to a talk on these verses in 1 Corinthians 13: Love suffers long and is kind: love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
What a lovely image of what love is! It’s easy to read along these lines and nod in agreement that, yes, this is what love is, but it doesn’t go further than that. The talk was a challenge that the sign of our change and growth as Christians came in how well we were loving others. And the longer the talk went on the more I started to squirm in my seat as my heart was convicted. As I asked myself truthfully how I was doing in this area, the resounding answer was not very well at all. In fact, I have become extremely stagnant in this area.
The speaker talked about how love covers a multitude of wrongdoings. He used the example of an oyster who upon getting a grain of sand inside their shell, weeps an emolient over it. The sand hurts; it aggravates; it irritates, but the oyster weeps an emolient over it giving it a covering and the end result is something precious and valuable. in the same way we are to cover others’ faults and failings with love because love changes all.
It’s so easy to grumble and complain and pick at people’s faults. We live in a selfish, me first, society, where if someone does us wrong we take care of ourself first; we judge others by our standards instead of seeing them as Christ sees them.
So, how am I doing?
Long suffering: I am so short tempered and snappy. I have no patience whatsoever.
Kind: hmmm, erm, I find it much easier to spew unkind words and without from doing kind deeds. It is my natural bent.
Does not envy: I envy a lot. I envy other people’s success, their career maybe, their domestic skills, their crafting skills, the list is endless of what I envy.
Does not parade itself: Fail again
Is not puffed up: Yeah, I like to boast and be proud and conceited sometimes, ok a lot of the time.
Does not behave rudely: oh boy, this is an area where I need a LOT of work. Again it comes so much more easily to me to be rude to other’s to ensure my own needs are looked after than it does to be gracious and kind.
Does not seek its own: Well, I think it’s pretty clear that I can be quite selfish.
Is not provoked: I am too easily provoked and I fly off the handle far too often.
Thinks no evil: I judge, I huff and puff about people, I resent, I hold on to wrong doings done against me
Does not rejoice in iniquity: Ok, so I don’t rejoice with evil acts in this world like murder etc, but when something bad befalls someone I don’t like very much it’s easy for that little voice in my head to think yeah, well, they had that coming or they got what they deserved.
rejoices with the truth: Truth and honesty are big things for me, so by the grace of God I do rejoice in truth.
Bears all things: DO I always protect? Yes, myself, but I am not so good at doing the same for others.
believes all things: Do I trust? No, experience has taught me to be suspicious, so this is a major area for me
Hopes all things: I rarely hope. I currently prefer wallowing in despair that nothing will change etc so why bother.
Endures all things: For me it is far easier to give up and quit than to keep at it.
Wow, that’s me; a horrible person when I really start delving into my true heart. I want to love this way. I want to be characterised by 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, but I can’t on my own. I may succeed for a few days…probably more like a few hours, but in my own strength this would be exhausting to do. To change myself into this, I need time everyday in the presence of Jesus. I need to spend time in prayer and reading the Bible to allow him to transform me with His love flowing through me. Only then can I even have a hope of loving others like this in His strength. So the first big change for me is setting more time aside in my day to spend in prayer and study.
The speaker in his talk told us of these words that someone (I don’t know who) has written:
Joy is love enjoying
Peace is love resting
Patience is love waiting
Kindness is love reacting
Goodness is love choosing
Faithfulness is love keeping its word
Gentleness is love empathising
Self-control is love resisting
Lord, help me to love like this. Amen. I think I may do something with these words so that they can grace the walls of our home and be a daily reminder.
Be with Jesus