Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Loving the Saints

1Cor. 13:13   So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

This is a much quoted passage from Corinthians and it should be. In our circles, we put a high value on truth, the study of doctrine and the power of faith. And we should. But we run the danger of speaking the truth in truth, or speaking the truth in faith, conviction, convincingly, or speaking the truth with technical precision. But the Bible says to speak the truth in love and that is not quite the same.

How do we do that?

1Cor. 13:4   Love is patient- When you speak to your brothers, are you patient or do you expect them to get what you are saying, RIGHT NOW, because it so logical, precise and well, so true?

and kind;- What is your demeanor in speaking? One who knows that what he is saying is right or true, is tempted to be condescending. That form of speaking can be very belittling and that is not kindness. Kindness comes from a patient heart and is not easily offended or defensive. Since you do not have to WIN the conversation right now, you are kind. The Bible says that God's kindness leads us to repentance and yours just might, too.

love does not envy- How do you do when your less deserving brother (at least in your eyes) is blessed? Do you rejoice? Or do you grumble and wish that he had not been blessed in this way?

or boast- Boasting is almost always done to boost up insecurities. God calls us to edify others, to build them up, not squash them down as we use them to push ourselves higher.

it is not arrogant- This reveals a lack of empathy as well as personal pride. Arrogance does not appreciate others because it assumes they have nothing substantial to offer. Hmmm.

or rude- Well, the arrogant are rude. Some humility will make them kinder.

It does not insist on its own way; - The arrogant and rude usually do get their own way because kind and loving people do not want to fight with them. But the arrogant also find themselves friendless.

it is not irritable or resentful-These two faults are often played as virtues. In the guise of being 'concerned' about a situation or friend, one gets repeatedly frustrated and irritated. If the one you are irritated about does not change, you begin to resent them. When someone's behavior is very frustrating to you, you either need to confront them or just not worry about it. You may need to do both. Confront them and then just not worry about it. Let the Lord do the work. It is easier for Him when you stop being frustrated and resentful.

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing- There are multiple ways to rejoice at wrongdoing. You can enjoy the sins of others in a perverse, voyeuristic sort of way. Or, you can rejoice when the one you are frustrated with does wrong and pays the price. The Christian thing to do is to grieve when others do wrong and pay the price, even if we believe the Lord's justice is being paid out. We should desire that the hard knocks of sin lead them to repentance.

but rejoices with the truth- We should always find great joy in whatever is true and beautiful and good.

Love bears all things- but not if you are irritable and resentful. If that is you, then you can bear very little, maybe not even someone changing lanes without signaling.

believes all things- This does not mean that you are foolish and believe everything you are told. This means that you believe that God is capable of doing great and mighty things. He can deal with those that frustrate you, or heal your frustration, or right the wrongdoer, or forgive your envious heart.

hopes all things- And God fixing things is exactly what you are hoping for. This sort of hope encourages but it also gives peace. If your hope really is in the Lord, then you do not have to be anxious. You can rest that God will fulfill His promises in His way at just the right time.

endures all things- Until He does so, you persevere by His Spirit. Because you love God and know that He loves you and expects you to love others, you are empowered to deal with all sorts of tribulation: life trouble, false accusations, personal hardships, misunderstandings, financial disaster, death of loved ones, job changes, moves, whatever the Lord brings. Your rest is truly in the Lord and you can endure towards others in a way that reveals wherein your hope lies.

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