If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 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 at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-7
I’ve been thinking about this section of Scripture a lot lately.
The other day two of our daughters were arguing. In fact, these two seem to argue a lot. They are completely different in their personalities and very close in age. This challenge is not new to my husband and me. We have 8 children with varying personalities, and we’ve had to deal with this issue before. But as I was thinking about these two daughters recently, this Scripture came to mind.
I printed out this portion of Scripture for both of them, and I made 2 columns on the page – What love is/does and What love isn’t/does not. Then I had them list out according to these verses what the Bible had to say about love. Their columns looked something like this:
I don’t know why, but the listing out of this was powerful.
Coincidentally, or maybe I should more aptly say, providentially, one of them is memorizing this portion of Scripture for school. She is working on the first two verses this week. I asked her, “Do you understand what this is talking about? Do you know what is meant by a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal?” She did not. As I began to talk to her, I was convicted by these words, “without love, you are nothing.”
Now I know, on this side of heaven, that my love is imperfect. I know that relationships are difficult because of our sinful hearts. A sinner trying to love a sinner, well, it’s just hard, and some relationships seem impossible. I also know that these words are a description of my Father’s love to me, as I am in Christ. For His love is perfect.
But what I was left with was this – just love people, Judi. Just choose to love them. Choose kindness more than unkindness. Patience more than impatience. Rejoice with the truth of a situation and not when someone stumbles. Put others first, don’t insist that your way is right. Rejoice when something good happens to someone else, do not envy them. Do not boast about yourself or your accomplishments, but about others and about the Lord. Don’t allow yourself to be easily irritated or bothered by others, but be glad that they are not like you.
I have learned and am learning so many things through parenting. How to love and the Father’s love for me, I feel like are life-long lessons. Sometimes, I grow weary and impatient with myself and my sin. At these times, it is truly only my Father’s love for me that pulls me out of the mire because I know that His love for me is not based on my performance, but on the perfectness of His own Son, Jesus, my Savior, brother, friend.
Another verse I have been dwelling on lately has been this one: “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16)
This whole section in 1 John 4 is really an explanation of the verses in 1 Corinthians 13 that are above. Friends, we have “to know and believe the love that God has for us.” We cannot love others until we know this. I love the way the Scripture is worded here because it reminds me that it is a process… “we have come to know.”
The longer that I am a Christian, the more clearly I see my sin. It is not pretty. But the more I see my sin, the closer it pushes me to the Savior. It’s unbelievable that He loves me! “Amazing Love, How can it be? That thou my God should die for me!”
A friend of mine just passed away. She was about 40 years my senior. I got to know her by being in a Bible Fellowship Group with her at church. She was an extraordinary lady for many reasons, but the one I’ll comment on here is that she was a good friend. She was a good friend because she loved people.
Another lady in our BFG, who is about 20 years my senior, and this lady were the best of friends. They were very different in personality, but they had an appreciation of one another. I don’t know how many years they had been friends, but I’ve watched them love each other for 17 years. It has been a beautiful thing, and it’s hard to say goodbye.
I pray that I learn from their beautiful example. I pray that my life would be a better example of the words above. I am self-protecting. I know this. It’s hard not to be in my position, and my personality doesn’t always lend to vulnerability. There is a fear in someone really knowing you, and there are past hurts that cause you to build walls. The truth is, though, if I take those verses to heart, it is my failure to love that is my greatest stumbling block. Like my daughters, I am responsible for myself, not how others receive me.
In this climate of dissension, turmoil, arguing, hate, I pray we remember this… we have been given and shown love. We don’t deserve it. The love of the Father is perfect and casts away all fear. And I pray we remember this; they will know that we are Christians by our Love. Because, dear friends, this is our greatest witness.