Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Love: A Study on 1 Corinthians 13, Day 3

Love is…kind ~1 Corinthians 13:4

This seems like a no-brainer. Of course love is kind! If it was mean, it wouldn’t be quite so popular. Fortunately for us, this can be obtained the same way patience is. The thing is, we like to believe ourselves generally to be kind people, so we don’t think we need help in this area. Well, after some reflection, we might find that we’re not as kind as we think we are.
I am “kind” to people’s faces, but I tend to be not so kind behind their backs. I claim that I don’t gossip, but there are times when I am in a pissy mood that I am downright cruel to my friends and to people who don’t deserve it. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I’m not even kind to these people’s faces. You see, I am fluent in sarcasm. It usually comes out before I think about it and immediately want to bite my tongue. You see, sarcasm is rarely used out of good will or kindness.
Our words are our most powerful weapon. Remember that phrase we used as children when people called us names? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a load of crap! No matter how many times we say that to ourselves, the names still hurt. Who hasn’t been hurt by words or used words to hurt others? The guys in the Bible knew that the tongue held some true power, and they warn us time and time again to use it cautiously. “Whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit” (1 Peter 3:10).
This is harder than it sounds. “No human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8). So, if this is so impossible, than how do we fix it? Well, we can’t—not on our own, at least. This is another job for our dear friend, Mr. Holy Spirit. Remember those fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness..? What do we need to do? That’s right, abide in Christ, and we won’t immediately be the kindest people in the world, but it will gradually become easier for us to be. The more time we spend with God, the better we’ll get. We just have to make the effort.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Love: a study on 1 Corinthians 13, Day 2

Love is patient… ~1 Corinthians 13:4

            “Love is patient.” We’ve heard this verse so many times, that we rarely stop and think about what it’s actually saying. I don’t know about you, but I’m a pretty impatient person. Someone tells me to be patient, and I roll my eyes. I’ve always been about five steps ahead of myself, doing the “why-must-I-wait?” dance, hoping that I could grow up sooner, get married quickly, get out of school and start living my life already. This carries into my relationships.
First of all, I cannot stand waiting on God. I’m continually asking, “Why can’t my timing be Your timing?” Who do I think I am? I know I’m not smarter or wiser than God, so why I do I pretend to be? Part of it is our fallen nature. I’ll admit I’m a bit of a control-freak. That’s part of my selfishness coming through. Whoever said “the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Ecclesiastes 7:8), knew what he was talking about. And, well, remember that one angel, Lucifer, who thought he could commandeer the universe? It turns out he’s got a little bone to pick with God, and he’s trying his damnedest to take down God’s people and feed us a little bit of his own medicine. So, don’t worry, impatience, even with God, is not uncommon.
If I’m impatient with a perfect God, I’m certainly impatient with imperfect people—other drivers on the road, significant others, friends, authority, the world in general. I don’t like to be late. I also get impatient when I see a problem in the world and a simple solution and somehow they don’t meet immediately. It’s frustrating.  If I’m supposed to love my neighbor, I have a feeling I might be missing something.
Patience is one of the fruit of the Spirit mentioned in Galatians 5. The implication is that if one receives the Holy Spirit, a natural product would be patience. Sounds too easy, right? There’s got to be a catch. Well, truthfully, so many people assume that the Holy Spirit dwells with them because they said a prayer once to accept Christ as their Savior. That’s wonderful, but it’s only the beginning.
“Ah, here’s the catch,” you say. It’s not so much a catch as it is an explanation. You see, Jesus states in John 15:4 (another “fruit” passage) that one must abide in Him to bear fruit. Abiding is the act of enduring, remaining, or continuing with someone or something. It implies constant attention to its subject and living each moment with it. Abide in Christ—live in Christ. Let your soul remain attached to Him, gleaning from His Word. Allow for your time and effort to be taken up by Him, and you will naturally yield patience (along with the other fruits of the Spirit).
I have a warning, though. This will not come easy, nor will it come right away. It’s going to take some patience.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Love: A Study on 1 Corinthians 13, Day 1

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

        Love is a pretty big deal. It’s paramount to the Christian faith. Jesus even says in Matthew 22:37-40 that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love others. If you follow those two commandments, you’ll follow the original ten. John even states that God is love in 1 John 4. It must be pretty important, then. 
         What is the opposite of love? As a child, I would answer “Hate.” In recent years, I came to the conclusion that indifference is a more accurate response. But the true antithesis of this genuine, unadulterated, selfless, unconditional love that comes from God is selfishness. Think about those commandments. Nowhere in Christ’s speech does He say that one must love himself. This is what makes God’s love so radical. Humans are inclined to think of themselves first, but Christ came down to reverse that. The cure for selfishness is love. 
        Society got it all wrong when we came to the conclusion that we need to love ourselves in order to love others or have others love us. I’ve come to another conclusion: We must allow others to love us and let that love change us. Once we can accept God’s love, we are able to love others. It’s so huge that it transforms us, or at least it should. When every single person stops worrying about loving themselves and starts focusing on loving God and others, every single person will be covered and filled with the highest form of love. 
        This sounds idealized, and in a perfect world, with perfect people, it works. But not everyone in this world will choose to love each person in their lives unconditionally. In fact, very few people will. Fear and selfishness creep in when we try to make these breakthroughs. We worry, “Who will love me?” The answer is simple enough: God. He’s already proven His love to us. It’s time to pay it forward to our neighbors, our friends, our relatives, our acquaintances, and our enemies. 
       Jesus came to preach this radical love that changes people. Don’t you think it’s about time to let it change you?