Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Perspective: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

"Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Pretty much everyone has heard these verses at least once.  We use them for everything: bookmarks, bumper stickers, jewelry, wedding vows, etc.  I've even heard a few parents use them on their kids when they want them to be nicer to their siblings. But have we ever really thought about them?  I've heard them over and over for years, but you know how sometimes people can tell you something, but it doesn't really click until you realize it for yourself?  That happened to me recently.  I was reading these verses as part of my Bible reading for the day and I decided to look up what some of the definitions were.  Obviously, patience is a duh, as is kind, and rude, but what about the rest?  I knew the basics, but what did they really mean?  Here's what I found:
Envy: A feeling of discontent caused by wanting something this is possessed by or is achieved by someone else.
Boast: To talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one's achievements, possessions, or abilities.
Proud: Feeling deep pleasure or satisfaction as a result of one's own achievements, qualities, or possessions . . .
Anger: A strong feeling of annoyance, displeasure, or hostility.

Okay, so we have self, self, and more self.  All of those focus inward.  They concentrate on me. What I want, what I need, what I've done, how I feel.  Anyone else getting tired of thinking and talking about me?  So I added a word that wasn't actually mentioned in the scripture: selfless.  The definition of selfless is, "concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own; unselfish."  That's how I want to be: selfless.
For so long I've looked at these verses from a legalistic angle.  Okay, "love is patient," I should be patient.  "Love is kind," be kind.  Love doesn't envy, or boast, and it isn't prideful.  Okay, so those are no-nos too.  That didn't work out too well for me (I know, big shocker, right?), because I failed.  Every. Single. Day.  I was proud, or I got angry, or I lost my patience, or I wasn't kind, and on and on.  I couldn't take that every day.  I was getting fed up with trying to master it, until I realized something.  Those verses aren't meant to be a list of rules and requirements, one mistake, you're done.  No, they're a reminder.  This is what love is supposed to look like.  This is what Jesus' love looks like.  He is patient, He is kind, He doesn't not envy or boast, He is not proud.  He is not rude, self-seeking, or easily angered.  He keeps no record of wrongs.  He always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  His love never fails.
We can't love like that without help.  We can't truly love until we know the One who created love and even then, we'll still fail.  But when we do, we have hope that He will forgive us and continue to teach and refine us every day. 
Father God, please forgive me for trying to do everything on my own.  Please forgive me for leaving You, the creator of love, out of the equation.  Thank You for opening my eyes and showing me what I've been missing for so long.  Teach me how to love as You love, with selflessness and joy.  Refine me, remove my impurities and sins, and shape me so that people will see You in me.  Amen.

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