Part of my daily Bible reading is from a schedule that my church follows. This morning I was supposed to read 1 Corinthians 12, but for some reason I got carried away and kept right on going into chapter 13. Now this is a beautiful chapter, for sure, one of the most beautiful in the Bible. You will find it on posters and greeting cards, coffee cups and plaques. It is regularly read at weddings. And as a result, it has become kind of … well, boring. How many times have I come to this chapter in the Bible and thought, oh no, not again. “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging symbol … blah blah blah.” Then what did I do, skim over it? Because I read it this morning, and I can’t believe that I have ever laid eyes on these words without them making their place deep in my heart. And yet I know they haven’t, because they don’t seem to have made a dent in my behavior, or my consciousness of my behavior.
(4) Love is patient and kind; does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant (5) or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (6) it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. (7) Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
1 Corinthians 13
I had to confess this morning to committing all the “nots” listed here, frequently and with gusto. The good parts, well, I have some of them as well. Bearing, believing, hoping, enduring, yeah I can do that. But not always without dipping into the pool of resentment, or more to the point, not always without feeling like I should be resentful. The world kind of teaches that these days. Or maybe I am misunderstanding something? Especially as women, we don’t want to be doormats. We want to be strong women!
Well, I think it takes a lot more strength to keep on loving, to keep on giving. It takes a hugely strong character to not be envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, irritable or resentful. Or a gossip.
I believe the greatest relationship killer in the word is defensiveness. I can see it so clearly in others. We love each other. We know we love each other. I know you love me, and you know I love you. So why can’t we look for the love in the words spoken to us? Why on earth would I act as though you are out to attack me all the time? Most of the time, those who love us are not attacking us with their words. We just for some stupid reason choose to filter them through this net of, what, self-hatred? We are defensive, so we feel attacked, so we get angry, and then we actually do attack. Then the other person feels (is) attacked, gets defensive, and attacks back. How can relationships survive this kind of thing? Too often they can’t. These incidents build up like poison in the system if they are allowed to continue. And most of the time, no offense was ever even implied to begin with. It’s amazing how we can create offense out of nothing.
If only we could put the above verses into action in our lives. If we love fully and genuinely, without malice, without envy, boasting, arrogance or resentment (i.e., defensiveness!)…. If we learn to receive love instead of being irritable and looking to use the words of those who love us to justify our irritability….
Some people may be naturally like this. I am not one of them. I don’t think it would even be possible to be like this without a supernatural assist from the Lord. So that is exactly what I am praying for.
Lord, let me love!