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Love always protects

1 Corinthians 13:7  Love bears all things

Different translations of this same verse often bring up images that aren’t necessarily related.  The NIV, for instance, says that love always protects. The ESV and many other translations, however, say that love bears all things.  While these may seem like different statements, they really can mean something similar. The gist of it is that people in loving relationships sometimes have to undergo wounds for the sake of each other.

If my sons or my wife were threatened in any way, you’d better believe that I would jump into whatever lions den I had to in order to protect them.  I wouldn’t do so foolishly, though.  Sacrificing my life for theirs might keep them alive, but what about the rest of their lives? It would make more sense to act in a calculated way that not only protects them, but also does them good in the long run.  This is where enduring things for their sake, bearing all things, is relevant.

Moving away from the analogy, the point is that loving relationships aren’t easy.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice for those you love.  Sometimes you have to endure hardship for them when the easier thing to do would be to run off on your own and not face the trials.  When we love someone, we don’t take that easy way out.  We stand by them and endure whatever we have to for their sake.  Jesus, the ultimate example of love, cared so much for us that He endured the torture of the cross, when His right as God was to walk away and face none of it.  Can we love, even one fraction of that much?

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Love keeps no record of wrong

1 Corinthians 13:5 …[Love] is not… resentful.

Answer this one question: Does it ever do anyone any good to carry resentment?  If someone has wronged you, and no doubt someone has at some point, it accomplishes very little to keep track of all of the things they’ve done to you.  They certainly don’t benefit from the fact that you’re holding a grudge and there’s no good in it for you either.

Love is so quick to forgive.  True love is incapable of keeping a list of wrongs because past hurts and mistakes have been forgiven, stricken from the record.  That doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily forget what happened, that’s almost impossible, but it means that whatever happened in the past won’t be used against the person who did the hurting.

With love between two people, resentment has no grounds to thrive. When it does dwell in someone’s heart, love has no room and it diminishes.  Both just can’t coexist.  Either you love someone or you resent them and want them to pay for their past actions.  Choose love and everyone will win in the end.

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Love is not easily angered

1 Corinithians 13:5  [Love] is not irritable.

Love is patient.  So why reiterate the same basic point by saying that love is not easily angered (or irritable)?  Quite simply, because it’s that much of an issue.  It’s that important because we have to really be conscious of this in order to be effective at loving other people.

With Jesus as our example, take a look at how He reacted to the sometimes whiny, often very hard-headed disciples with whom He spent a great deal of His time.  Be honest, most of us, were we in Jesus’ place, would have gotten angry very early on with some of the things He put up with.  But because He loved them, He showed them patience and kindness.  He answered their silly questions and taught them lessons to help them grow more mature.  He had compassion for them.

The only way to really have this kind of compassion for someone is to have some empathy – try to feel what they’re feeling.  Most of the time if you can empathize, anger is not going to flare up quite so easily.  It’s really not about controlling anger, it’s about considering others.

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Love is not self-seeking

1 Corinthians 13:5   Love… does not insist on its own way.

Many marriages end simply because the two spouses could never quite become one unit.  If either or both are constantly looking out for self and never putting the good of the entire family first, things will ultimately fall apart.  This can be said of any relationship.

Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand (Mark 3:25). There has to be unity in a home, each member of the family acting as a teammate, in order for any sort of happiness to be there.  Each person seeking to get only for themselves, at the expense of others, will lead only to strife.

Relationships are team efforts, with one set of goals, one set of values, and a high regard for unity and respect.  Two individuals trying to live for their own goals with no regard for each other’s is not a functioning relationship – and it’s not love.

Love is not self-seeking, it does not insist on its own way.  It always – ALWAYS – puts others first.  Sometimes you will have to put aside your own desires for the greater good of your marriage.  Sometimes keeping a friendship means not getting your way.  Sometimes selflessness won’t be reciprocated.  Sometimes it may seem that you’re doing it all for no reason.  But love always hopes, love always endures, and love never fails.  Hold on and keep loving.

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Love is not rude

1 Corinthians 13:4,5  Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.

In regards to love, being rude is closely related to some of the other things Paul lists in his description of what love is and is not.  Boasting, for example, is a way of acting rude.  Being kind, however, cannot coexist with being rude.  They are not compatible.

Suffice it to say, a lot has already been covered about this topic, but an specific area for consideration is sarcasm.  Some people may think that sarcasm is not unkind.  To them it’s just funny and the other person knows they’re joking.  Some of us have a real tendency to lean on sarcasm rather than just discussing something and dealing with it.  This is actually a lack of respect for others, which can be hurtful.  Sometimes, it’s downright belittling.

There’s something deeper behind the source of our sarcasm.  Why don’t we go ahead and get up the courage to deal with it instead of taking it out on our loved ones?  You’d be hard-pressed to find a truly happy married couple that speaks to each other with rudeness and sarcasm regularly.  Even if it’s done in a joking manner, it does affect the person on the other end.  If we love them, we won’t treat them rudely or degrade them with our words.

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Love is not proud

1 Corinthians 13:4  Love is… not arrogant

How many marriages could be saved if just one partner would apologize?  How many friendships – if only one person would put down their pride and say “I’m sorry”?  Pride is truly the root of so many evils.

Pride and arrogance are the stepping stones to lust, to selfishness, to anger, to contempt.  There’s no room for pride in a loving relationship – pride takes up too much space.  Really loving someone means being willing to admit faults and shortcomings.  Love puts others first, even at the expense of ego or dignity.  Pride just doesn’t fit into the scenario.

A proud person makes decisions based on what will make them look the best.  They’ll take others down to build themselves up and hurt feelings to keep from admitting wrong.  We don’t think we’re being evil when we’re prideful, it seems right, even good, at the time.  You know yourself well enough to know where your pride resides.  Capture it, and act in love.  Be willing to be wrong and admit it.  Be ready to step aside when someone has a better idea.  Respect in love.

 

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Godless: Part 2

Romans 1:24-25 “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” 

At some point in our life we have heard someone say “If there is a God, why does He allow such evil to take place in the world.” The truth is because that’s what’s in our hearts and that is what we seek. God longs for us to seek after Him the way He seeks after us. He longs for us to be like Him and to value the things He values. Things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. But none of us do, not one of us. We seek out the lusts of our hearts. We are carnal, materialistic, power hungry, envious, creatures who worship and serve creation rather than the Creator. So why does God allow us to live this way? Because He gave us free will.

God created us in His image with our own will and He will not force His upon us. So when we choose things that God detests, when we put things He created over Him, He allows us too. God didn’t design us to be robots, and as much as He loves us, He gives us up to what our hearts desire.

The world has been tricked into thinking that we are gods and the masters of our own destiny. And it will hold on to this lie and continue to follow this path no matter how destructive it gets, denying Christ and the salvation that is available to all that believe. Why? Jesus said in John 3:19 “the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

This was all our story at one point. We are a fallen race that doesn’t seek after God, but our own selfish desires. But God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son, that whoever would believe in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. The world thinks that Christ came to condemn us for what we are, but those of us who walk with The Lord know that He came to save us from what we are. Sinners who are far from God and who deserve the prize of our endeavors, which is death. This is why it’s so important to let our light shine. Their might be somebody who spent their entire life believing a lie, huddled in darkness, who might see the light of Christ shining through our lives.

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Love does not boast

1 Corinthians 13:4  Love…does not…boast

No one likes a braggart.  Excessive boasting is obnoxious and rude.  It belittles others and serves self.  In short, it’s not love.  Let’s translate this into a scenario you can relate to.

You’re out with friends.  The girls are chatting together while the guys share a word.  You’re going on about what you did for your girlfriend for your anniversary, telling all of the details about how much hard work you put into it.  This can play out two ways.

You’re either sharing all this so that your friends know how wonderful you think your girlfriend is, and how deserving she is of this treatment, expressing regret that you can’t always treat her with this much attention – or, you’re bragging. In the latter scenario, you’re trying to make yourself look good, which makes it seem as though you went so out of your way for such an underserving wretch as your girlfriend, and she’s so lucky to have a good person like you in her life.  How does this make her feel?  Is that loving?

Love builds others up, it doesn’t tear them down.  And bragging does bring others down in an attempt to elevate self.  It’s best to follow the wisdom of Proverbs 27:2 and “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth”. True love acts in humility.

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Love does not envy

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love…does not envy

Are you happy when your loved ones succeed?  It seems like a silly question, but the reality is that there can be times when we’re not happy for them when they have done something that makes them happy.  The root of this can be two things; either one equates to envy.

We may feel inadequate that something other than ourselves can have this effect on those around us.  Maybe we want to be the only one capable of bringing them happiness.  “Could I put as much of a smile on her face as this has?”  “Am I even good enough?”  This is envy in one regard.

Another common scenario is just being jealous that someone else has something that you don’t.  You want what they have so you can’t just be happy for them.  Again, it’s envy, and it’s not loving.

True love wants what’s best for others.  You don’t want something at the expense of your spouse, your friends, your family. You’re willing to give up your own desires to see them live a fulfilling life.  You put them first, never trying to step on them to get what you want.

True love rejoices in triumphs and grieves alongside the hurting.  True love will even help achieve those triumphs.  We’ve got to hold others in that high a regard.  When God chooses to bless, that’s a time to give thanks, not pout in envy.

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Love is kind

1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is… kind

There are some people who could just make you cringe with the way they treat those they claim to love.  Insults, vulgarities, and general mean-spiritedness define these relationships.  Could this really be love?  Is it even possible that these people who treat each other worse than enemies have anything even resembling love for each other?  You know the people…you’ve seen them out in public, they’re the couple at the dinner party that everyone else is sort of embarrassed for.

Love is so much more than just the way we feel about each other.  The way we treat each other, however, is a reflection of what our true view is of those we “love”.  It’s not possible to love someone in the true definition of the word and treat them with contempt or unkindness.  When you love someone, you want to be kind to them.  You want to treat them as though they are important and worthy of respect.  There’s no room for intentionally hurting feelings, manipulation, or making them feel worthless.

Love is kind and our example is Jesus.  The only perfect man to ever walk the earth treated His loved ones with the utmost kindness and respect.  He expects us to do the same, not just for those we love, but for those He loves.

 

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known