Monday, March 23, 2015

Love According to 1 Corinthians 13 (Part 3)

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'" -Galatians 5:14 (ESV)

     "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away." These are the verses we so often read, but so rarely apply to our lives. These are the words we type up on Facebook then seconds later speak badly of someone to our friends. These are the words we often hear during weddings, but never truly think about what they mean. It can be easy to look at these verses and think about how charming the words sound, and how beautiful a concept love is, that we forget to actually look at the words and ask ourselves, "Is this me? Am I these things?"

     Previously in this series, I went through verse 4 of 1 Corinthians 13, and part of verse 5. I would like to continue that with the next item on the list, which is, "love does not insist on its own way." As part of human nature, we want to think that what we believe is always right. It can be so easy to become closed minded and believe that our way is the only way. The popular mentality in the world is, "This is my life, I can do whatever I want!" But let me encourage you to truly look at these words. If we are not insistent on our own way, then whose way do we insist on? Well, if you are a Christian, it should be God's way. When you are baptized and become a Christian, you are no longer yours. You are a vessel of God's word. Romans 6:16-17 says, "Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness. But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard teaching to which you were committed." We are slaves of Christ, meaning that that should be what we profess. Do you? Do you insist that everyone does God's will, or yours? Do you push God onto others? Not in an obnoxious way, but do we stand for God? Or do we stand for ourselves?

     Love is not irritable, according to 1 Corinthians 13:5. What does this mean? Well, do you have a sibling? I think I speak for everyone when I say that being around someone 24/7 can be irritating. You can get easily annoyed with each other, and impatient. We can get this way with our friends, those who we go to school with, and that random guy who cut you off in traffic. It's important that we keep our patience with others. Yes, sometimes people can bother us, it happens. But it is crucial that we don't lose patience with them. Who knows, they could really need the patience! "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun fall down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil." Yes, we can get angry. But it is our role as Christians to keep our patience. No one ever had disrespect for someone who showed patience in a difficult time. It's important that we, as Christians, treat others with the respect that they deserve, even if it doesn't feel like they do deserve it at the time. Don't snap at them or speak disrespectfully about them behind their backs, but count to ten, take a deep breath, and calmly tell them what your problem with them is. Often times, they don't even realize that they're doing it. But if we just yell at them and point out their flaws, we are not showing them that we are Christians, and we are not letting our lights shine (Matthew 5:16)

     "Love is not resentful." These four words are so simple, yet so puzzling to many. If you are reading this, someone has probably wronged you in some way. And if not, then you likely never leave the house. Unfortunately, we are often the ones who do wrong. I have never had a conversation with someone who wasn't the victim. I believe that if we looked through the eyes of everyone and saw their point of view on everything, almost no one would do anything wrong. Would you appreciate it if someone held a grudge against you for several years? Would you like to hear that someone still doesn't like you because of that one thing you said six months ago? This is why we are to right our wrongs with others. Matthew 5:21-26 talks about this, and I would like to encourage you to read it, but verses 23 and 24 say, "So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift." Now, some people just won't forgive you and that's not your fault. But until we have genuinely tried making things up with them, we need to continue to try. But is this us? Instead of being resented, do we resent? Is something eating you up that happened a year ago? Six months? How about a couple weeks? It's important that we don't let these things eat us up. Not only is it completely unhealthy for us, but how can we focus on God if we are giving all of our attention to others who have wronged us? Romans 12:17-21 also speaks about this a lot, and I would like to ask you to read it, as I don't have enough room to put it here.

     Today I would like to encourage you to look at these words, and to study the manner for yourself. It's important that we have only love in our hearts so that there is no room for hatred. Unfortunately, I couldn't go as indepth as I wished with this one, because if so, then each word would take up about five articles. In fact, I have never written an article, or given a lesson in which love has not come up in some way. "For the whole law is fulfilled in word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself." according to Galatians 5:14. Do we have love for each other? Today I would like to encourage you to not only study 1 Corinthians 13, but ask yourself, "Is this me?" And if not, change something!