Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Love is Patient

Lately I have been thinking about 1 Corinthians 13.  Maybe it's the political drama...I'm not seeing very much love there.  Maybe it's the struggles, pain, and grief so many around me are experiencing, and my desire to love them well.  Maybe it's because I want the 'love' passages woven into the fabric of my family so much so that we cannot help but to ooze it to all around us.  Maybe it is a combination of all of those things, as well as prompting from the Holy Spirit that has me pondering this section of scripture, carrying it in my heart.  So here is the section I am talking about...we've probably all heard it a thousand times.

1 Corinthians 13

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, 
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 
 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom
 all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can 
move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give 
all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.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, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease;
 where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge,
 it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 
10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child,
 I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. 
When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we 
shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
It's known to most of us as the love passage.  There is so much goodness in this short little chapter; so much wisdom.  I want to unpack it a little bit today, and maybe we can walk away with a re-newed passion for loving others.
First, the chapter begins by basically saying we can check-off all the little boxes, and appear to have it all together.  We can have all of the knowledge, and we can tithe, and we can have gifts of tongues and prophecy, BUT if we lack love, it's worth nothing.  I'm a list girl, and checking off boxes makes me feel successful.  It's my jam.  But here, it's pretty clear that it is about more.  Our testimony and witness for Christ is nothing if we do not first love.  It's all about relationship.
Then we are given a way to define love.  It is patient, kind, not envious, etc.  So we know that it isn't just a feeling, it is actions.  Years ago, I had this section of 1 Corinthians 13 made into a sign for my home.  It has always hung in a common room, where we would all see it daily.  We've talked to our kids about this verse, and basically said every single decision or action in your life can be measured by these verses.  We use it as a training tool...a discipleship tool.  So, someone hurts our feelings and we want to yell at them.  Check the verse...love is not easily angered.  So no, pick another response.  Struggling to forgive?  Love keeps no record of wrongs.  You get the idea.  Love is the greatest command, and we can use this verse to help us live it out! 
Interesting thought, though.  The very first attribute of love that is listed is patience.  Ugh, that's not a word we like to think about, and we certainly don't like to practice it.  In this time of technology and instant gratification, patience is a dying practice.  But I can't help but wonder if God has it listed first for a reason.  He has SO MUCH patience with me.  I am a hot mess most days, and I make lots of mistakes.  I neglect my relationship with Christ, I say things I shouldn't, I treat people in ways that are not loving, I am lazy, I fail.  But He is filled with patience with me.  He never loses His temper with me, He doesn't turn His back.  He just continues to give me second chances over and over again.  He realizes that all of my failures are not who I am, but are just bad decisions I am making.  He sees ME as His beloved, and not as the sum of my behavior.  His patience is life-giving.  But me?  I don't always have patience.  I am impatient with God when my prayers are not answered the way I want them to be, or in MY time.  Ugh, typing that admission is just yucky.   I am not always willing to be patient with my family, friends, traffic, the waiter at the restaurant, the teller at the bank.  I am impatient, and my actions show it.  And all too often, I define people by their behavior, not loving them as children of God, but rather reducing them to all of their failures.  But patience is love, and I must grow in love as I try to live my life for Christ.  I have no way of knowing if He ordered the attributes of love the way He did for a specific reason, but I do know that since patience made the list, it is very important! And like I tell my kids often, "Love is not waiting, but it is HOW YOU ACT while you are waiting."  Lord, forgive my impatience with you and your children. 

Perhaps one of my favorite parts of this chapter comes at the end:

12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we 
shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 One day soon, I will see Jesus face to face.  I am made in His image, and I will one day see exactly what that looks like.  Me and Jesus, face to face.  And I don't think this means physically, but rather my heart and soul.  'Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."  I will know Him fully.  What a glorious day that will be.  Amen.

Obviously I am no expert.  I don't have any fancy biblical knowledge.  But I do love Jesus with my whole heart, and I love to read and study to try to see what He has for me in His Word.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on 1 Corinthians, so leave me some comments.  Let's share here, and learn to love more fully, deeply, and completely. 

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts, Mrs. Jones. I especially liked the sign in the common room used as a training tool.