An Interactive Look at 1 Corinthians
How good are you at loving others? Would you consider yourself a loving, compassionate person? Does injustice make you want to dedicate yourself to making it better? Do you continue to love others even when they’ve treated you badly?
I have always considered myself a loving, although at times selfish, person. My goal in life is to be a compassionate person, giving love and encouragement to others. I say this is my goal—it is something I strive to do because I love the Lord. I don’t necessarily feel it is a gift, but rather something I must do to serve the Living God. As you read on you’ll agree I fall far short of the mark!
It has been several weeks of dealing with suffering people. I have friends and family who are facing serious, painful illnesses. There are others who have lost loved ones or are in the process of losing loved ones. Still others are facing life changes that will bring about dramatic, unchangeable events in their lives. Then there are the caretakers and family of these sufferers. That opens a whole other area of suffering, mostly heart suffering from watching their loved ones suffer.
During my “Mary” time this morning, the Holy Spirit chastised me about becoming a more loving person. Here I thought I was doing so well but He showed me differently. Please allow me to share.
Let’s look at the “love” chapter in the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-10:
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT)
I have always loved these verses and thought I lived by them. However, this morning, I’ve realized differently. Let’s look at these words a little more closely and you’ll see my “grade” is not very good—actually, there is room for improvement in every area. (Note: As I share these with you, perhaps you, too, would like to take a look at where you might fall on the grading scale?)
- Love is patient and kind. For me, unfortunately, that depends. It depends on the circumstances, the people, and whether or not I’m in a hurry. Now that I look at it, the Bible doesn’t say there are any conditions. I am supposed to be patient and kind. I need to remember that the next time the person with 50+ items gets ahead of me in the 20 item express lane at the store, or the next time the family of 12 blocks the entire grocery isle right where the item I need is located on the shelf, and even when the person in front of me at the drive through orders all his/her food “specially” made and all I want is an iced tea. I even need to remember this when I’ve watched the umpteenth fishing/logging/ trucking reality television show because hubby thinks these are entertainment. My Grade = pretty low
How about you? Are you a patient person or does it depend on circumstances? Do you always strive to be kind to others, even when they are not-so-kind to you?
- Love is not jealous or boastful or proud5 or rude. This, depends on who we are talking about. If they’re family or close friends I can be extremely proud and boastful of the things they’ve done. (Just ask my children—I share way too much information about their lives with others. What can I say, I’m a “proud” mom?) And I’m ashamed to say that, yes, I get jealous. I’m especially jealous of any female who maintains a small waist to hip ratio, always dresses like she stepped out of a fashion magazine, and can pull off looking stylish in yoga pants. I also admit to occasionally (and very briefly) envy someone who gets to travel to a place I’ve always dreamed of going, accomplished something I would have enjoyed accomplishing, or experienced a great event I would love to experience. As far as rudeness goes, I usually reserve rudeness for immediate family—after all they still have to love me. I say usually. I have been known to be less than tactful in a few situations where family was not involved. Grade = extremely low
How about you? Are you jealous or envious of others’ good fortune? Do you brag about things you’ve accomplished or received in your life? Have you ever been rude to another person?
- It does not demand its own way. Why can’t I have my own way? I’m intelligent, hard-working (at least I was until I retired), and “I’m the mom.” Unfortunately, the Bible doesn’t allow for that either. As much as I want everything to be “about me,” it isn’t always the case. As a matter of fact, it is very rarely the case. In effect, I am not supposed to want everything done “my way.” (What about those instances where “my way” is the most logical?) I don’t think this means I have to be at everyone’s beck and call, not think for myself and not speak up when I think things are unsafe, uncaring, or unreasonable. God has gifted me with a brain and sometimes we have to step up to the leadership role, especially when no one else wants to lead. But keep your mind open—someone else’s way may be more successful, less stressful, and more convenient. Grade = super low
How about you? Are you a “it’s my way or the highway” type person or are you open minded and supportive of others?
- It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. Excuse me? I’m not supposed to be irritable? What about when my blood sugar level is low, the fuel level on the car is past empty and I was not the last one to drive it, or I can’t get my work done because I keep getting interrupted? What about when I want to go out to eat but my spouse doesn’t? Or I have a visitor that won’t leave so I can go to bed? And you know those hormones—they fluctuate a lot so shouldn’t I be allowed to be irritable during a hot flash when the air conditioning is not keeping the house cool enough? There is no excuse. I am not to be irritable. Grade = super-duper low
And keeping records of wrongs? I would NEVER do that. So what if someone else took my parking spot or sat in my pew at church. So what if someone ate the last piece of pecan pie that I was going to eat for breakfast. So what if I wanted a trip to Scotland and I ended up on the Appalachian Trail instead. Who is keeping records? Grade point – low
What about you? Are you a Grumpy Gus? Do you remember every little slight someone has done toward you? Do you readily “forgive and forget” and move on?
- 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. I could not think of many ways that I don’t follow this one. I don’t like it when the bad people win. However, being the imperfect person that I am, I’m sure there are ways I fall short in this area as well.
How do you feel about injustice? Does it leave you frustrated and angry? What about when the wrong person is held accountable?
- 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Is this not the most beautiful verse? How I wish I could say that when the going gets tough I never give up (note: I did not make it very far on the Appalachian Trail). How can I say that I never lose faith? I’ve lost so many people in my life to illness, accidents, or hard feelings. I do remain hopeful when things happen “on time.” But I must admit to feeling a little unsure when I’m sometimes left waiting on God’s timing. Does my love endure through every circumstance? I would say yes it does. Unless you hurt one of my children. Or bring hurt on any good, god-fearing person. Or unless it’s just obvious to me that you are a bad person.
Is your faith steadfast and true? Do you continue to hope even when all seems hopeless? Do you hold on to the promise that God’s love endures forever?
I hope you see that I have written this blog “tongue in cheek.” I am not casting stones. I am confessing to you just how “unloving” a person I am, which is extremely humbling. At the end of my “Mary” time, I was feeling thoroughly chastised, discouraged and embarrassed. After all I am a child of the King!
At the same time, I was very encouraged because I have been shown these areas of my life that I need to work on to serve God better. With much prayer, Bible Study and wisdom from other believers, perhaps I can do better.
Are there any areas that you need to work on? If so, I send out my prayers to you that will be made aware of these areas and then given the wisdom to know how you can improve. (If you ask God for wisdom he will give it—James 1:5) I have discovered one of the most important parts of my “Mary” time is to pause and listen to what God is telling me.
In closing, let me share the encouragement I received from the Holy Spirit today. I have forgiveness because I have confessed these sins to my Father and He has forgiven me. I have faith because He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins and resurrected Him to reassure me of this fact. And no matter what, I have the hope to realize that His love endures forever, no matter what!
Thank you for loving me and for showing me the true meaning of love. I realize I cannot love perfectly, but I know that with your love and guidance, I can give more love than I ever thought possible. Please allow me to love others through you and for you.
- “Mary” time is what I call my quiet, prayer time with God. My desire is to be sitting at Jesus’ feet, much as Mary did, soaking up his presence.
- I would love to hear your feedback on this article! Please feel free to leave comments in the area below.