I said a while back that I would talk more about love. So here it is.
The perfect definition of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13, and it goes like this:
“Love is patient,
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
It does not boast,
It is not proud.
It does not dishonor others,
It is not self-seeking,
It is not easily angered,
It keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil
But rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
Love never fails.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Wow. What a list. Sometimes I think to myself, “How many of these characteristics of love do I exhibit to others? How do I measure up on the Jesus scale?”
I know that I am much more patient than I was in my younger years. But I still have a long ways to go. Besides, have you ever noticed that sometimes you are more patient with friends and acquaintances than you are with your own family members? I know I am. Patience has never been my strong suit, and my patience gets tested quite often and I fail more often than not with my husband, especially now that we live in extremely close quarters. (We live in a 32 foot motorhome with our two dogs, Tinker Belle the Pug and Gracie the standard poodle puppy.)
I try to be as kind as possible, in my dealings with others. However, this, too, can be a struggling point when my mouth speaks before my brain thinks it through--especially when I am tired or in pain. I have to keep telling myself that unkind words will not help the situation, neither will my habit of “needing” to have the last word on a subject. The Holy Spirit has been working on me lately concerning fewer words being better.
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
(Personal addendum, based on Psalm 139: Everything is uttered before God because he hears all and knows all, even before we speak it or do it.)
Envy. I have mostly conquered envy, but there are still times when I get jealous or covet something someone else owns.
And, yes, I do catch myself boasting from time to time, but I rationalize it, thinking that it might benefit so-and-so if they heard about my personal victory. It is not necessarily bad to tell about our victories, so long as we give the glory to God, because if He did not equip us and provide for us, we would not have the victories to boast about. Our victories come through His blessings.
“But, ‘Let the one who boasts boast in The Lord.’ for it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom The Lord commends.”
2 Corinthians 10:17-18
What exactly is pride? When I typed “define pride” into the Bing search engine, the second definition that it showed was “proper sense of own value.”
Wow. So, according to the world (as pointed out by the above), we are supposed to be prideful? I understand that we should feel good about ourselves and that we need to have a sense of personal respect, but seriously? Pride is the proper sense of our own value? I think not, and I base my belief on the teachings of Jesus. Humility is what our personal value needs to be based on. Jesus washed people’s feet. He did not let His status as the king, as God incarnate, interfere with what He came to this earth to accomplish. To be a servant is more important than any other thing we might have to be prideful about. John 13 states it best.
“Jesus knew that The Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
Today’s world is so full of pride and arrogance, that the world tends to disparage those who do not conform to the worldly ways of “me-me-me” and winning no matter the cost, calling us “nonconformists” weak and stupid. The world idolizes movie stars and professional sports figures. No wonder they are so arrogant, being held to that level by their fans.
Alas, even with my disdain for pride, I occasionally fall prey to its evil draw. I am only human, after all.
“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.”
How am I doing so far? It doesn’t look too promising for me to ever achieve God’s definition of love; however, God knows this about all of us humans.
My point in showing how I fail at some of these love traits is not to disparage myself. I show my faults to demonstrate that having faults in these areas is nothing to beat yourself up about. So long as we are working faithfully on our weaknesses, God will be pleased with us. God knows we are human and that as humans, we have a tendency to be self-centered and that we have a sinful nature.
God delights in us when we take our faults and our failures to Him. When we take our pride and our ego and we place them at the foot of the cross, He will help us bear our burdens and wipe away our shame.
He loves us that much.
My final words on love comes again from 1 Corinthians 13:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
1 Corinthians 13:13
My prayer for you today is that you would know love in your life, the deep, abiding love only found in relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In His grace,