You know the Bible is an amazing book. Its words of wisdom apply to every aspect of our lives. It speaks to both sides of an issue. For example, the Bible speaks to both the lender and to the borrower (Luke 6:35, Ecc 5:5). The Word of God instructs those who provoke and those being provoked (Galatians 5:26, 1 Cor 13:5). God leaves no stone unturned, there is no room for self-justification, no matter how much we try to do it.
As believers our flesh still tries to rule, and we sometimes find ourselves falling short of the mark. I know this is true for me and I’m pretty confident it is the same for you. We don’t always say the right thing, we don’t always think the right thing, and we don’t always do the right thing. And heaven knows it is too easy for us to try and point the finger at others while refusing to look at ourselves. It’s a part of human nature – thanks to Adam – and it is something that we have to guard against. In part 1 of this series we talked about humility and pride. Pride is a big problem, the main root of human nature’s problem. It is pride that can keep us from maintaining one of the most important features of a child of God; LOVE.
We live in a society where love has now become cliché. It is a word used to express how much we like pancakes or a favorite program on T.V. It is used to describe casual, shallow, relationships with fly by night acquaintances. It’s the word that pours freely from our lips in church circles, at schools, and millions of homes across this land. It is a descriptive term used for everything from immorality to tissue. Love, a word so overused that most really don’t understand what it means in the first place. It is imperative that we look to Scripture to understand God’s definition of what love is in order to determine if we living up to God’s expectations when it comes to love.
1 Corinthians 13 tells us what love is. Therefore, let’s break down verses 4-7 to see where we stand. Doing this will take personal honesty. We are only to look at ourselves now. We are not worrying about anybody else that we know; we are only focusing on whether or not we measure up in the eyes of God. (click image to view larger)
Examining myself by the Bible’s explanation of love I have to admit that I am not always the best at walking according to this instruction. I will say that I try, but there are times when I don’t quite measure up. If asked to answer honestly, would you have to admit the same? I am pretty positive that you would.
Sometimes we can be hardest on loved ones and easiest on strangers we don’t even know. How many of us have been mistreated by customers at work? Done wrong by a boss? Lied on? Talked about? How many of us have acted responsibly in these situations, not blowing our tops, overlooking the bad attitude in order to keep our jobs? How many are that patient with those family members who may be quick tempered, impatient, or rude with us? Do you pray for your boss and/or coworkers that have character issues that are hard to deal with? Do you pray for family members who have character issues that are hard to deal with? If we can keep our mouths shut at work when a situation is getting heated, why is it so hard to do the same with family members when a situation is getting heated? Do we recognize when we are quick tempered and rude to others? When we feel out of sorts do we just let our emotions rule the day? Do we recognize when we should be more patient and understanding of others deeds and feelings? Sometimes we need to check our love meter.1 Corinthians 13:8 says that Love never fails; it has no time of termination. If I have the love of God within me then I should never be self-absorbed. In my determination to be like Christ, there have been times when I have had to be quiet and let another person say whatever they wanted to say. I have had bad attitudes slung directly at me…for the simplest mistake or for no reason at all. I have had my feelings hurt by loved ones who, in their hotheadedness jumped to wrong conclusions without receiving or accepting explanation. I have endured rudeness when a person interrupts while I’m talking, steam rolling right over me with their mouth. I have been talked about to my face and made to be the butt of jokes before rooms full of people. I have been taken advantage of, taken for granted, and completely ignored and/or forgotten. I have had my heart hurt so deeply that I literally felt the pain deep in my chest. I have even been cussed at, threatened, robbed, and lied on. Sometimes, if you’re mild mannered, it comes with the territory. None of this, however, is an excuse to return wrong action for wrong action. In these moments, if I had let pride get the best of me, I would have been in battles all of the time. I would have become known as a person who walks in rage, always ready to fight. Even worse, I would have been at odds with God! Instead of appeasing my flesh in times like these I choose to think of Christ.Jesus was mistreated more severely than any of us could ever fathom. He was lied on, talked about, beaten, spat on, ridiculed, and humiliated. He had done nothing to warrant such treatment, and he never even had one bad thought about the culprits. In addition to all of that, they executed him without just cause and he STILL spoke not one word against them. Instead he forgave them and prayed for them! He forgave when they didn’t deserve forgiveness. He forgave when they did not ASK for forgiveness. How then can we as believers not have patience with another’s short comings? How can we treat others as though they should be immediately sentenced to hell for eternity because of rudeness, a quick temper or because they have said or done something we just don’t like?
The truth is that Jesus was the epitome of love in action. As His disciples we are to be the same. We will not meet that goal, however, if we do not get pride out of the way. I know from experience that this is not always easy; sometimes you will get tired of people and not want to esteem them more highly than yourself. When our thoughts, feelings, and desires are most crucial we will not see the importance of putting love in action. All we will see is the error of someone else’s deeds and fail to see our own short comings. We will stroke our egos by self-justifying our behavior because of the actions of another. In the eyesight of God, however, we are instructed to love. That command does not come with additional clauses that let us off the hook!
Love is not just a word we throw around. It’s a defining feature that NO child of God can be without. Love is serious business, and it takes steady growth in the right direction and an honest view of ourselves for it to become consistently prominent in our everyday lives. We have all fallen short in the love department. Thanks be to God, however, that forgiveness and help are available to us if we confess our short comings in this area to God from a heart that wants to love the way Jesus does.
Until next time,