1 Corinthians 13:4-7 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.
So, we've got God. We spend time in prayer, we spend time in fellowship. We seek out wise counsel, we study God's word. We have a relationship with the Trinity that is giving us a strong foundation. If you haven't got there yet, what are you waiting for? A new life filled with purpose, joy, healing, spiritual health and prosperity awaits all those who follow Him. It is your choice, as God's written word and Jesus in the flesh both say, we can follow Him and live or follow our own path and remain dead. God gave us free will and each man must choose for himself who to follow.
And we have spent time being honest with ourselves and are becoming aware of our own weaknesses, our own faults, our own shortcomings. We take our faults to God daily and ask for forgiveness and strength to do better tomorrow. We are becoming the men and women of God, seeking righteousness and strength and becoming more bold in our faith as we progress on our very personal journey of sanctification.
If this is you, and you earnestly are seeking the path of Christ, then whether you realize it or not, through this journey of redemption you are already becoming someone who loves others more fully.
As we change our judgmental focus from outward to inward we become more aware of how we hurt others and that awareness of our selfishness breeds a strong desire (hopefully) to change. We start to desire to be better to those we love, to not hurt but instead help, to be part of the solution and not continue to feed the problem.
Learning to undo the teachings of this selfish, self-serving, "what's in it for me" mentality the world bombards us with is a slow process. The good news is that every weed that is pulled makes the garden look and function better. Just because there are a ton of weeds still to be pulled, they come out of the ground one at a time and each one removed has value. Anyone who knows gardening also knows that it is a never ending process, there always seems to be one more weed to pull.
Welcome to the incredibly rewarding journey of sanctification!
So how do we love others like Christ loved us, let's dive right in. God is very clear here. The first two words in this passage are "love is". I get so excited when God doesn't beat around the bush, We don't have to ask a pastor or go to seminary or learn historical theology on this one, He gratefully defines it just like Webster.
It is no mistake that PATIENCE is the first order of business.
What does it mean to be patient? Not in a hurry, willing to wait. Having the ability to relax and be at peace until the time comes when the goal is reached. Whether it is baking fresh bread, saving for a new car, planning a vacation, turning 21. "I can't wait, I'm so excited". As we begin the journey toward learning how to love others more completely, more like Christ, we must realize and embrace the fact that it takes time.
As we look at our own sins and find shame and disgust in ourselves we learn that God loves us so much that He gave His Son to die on the Cross and that we are forgiven by the blood of Christ. The freedom that comes from a deep understanding of what it means to be forgiven and loved takes time to sink in. Just reading the word of God does not set us free, letting His word sink deep in our hearts and minds and for it to become a part of our understanding of ourselves and the world around us takes time.
God is patient, watching us make the same mistakes, commit the same sins, inflict the same hurts on those around us over and over. As children we sin in complete blindness to God's wisdom. As we become more spiritually mature it is sin, repent, sin, repent, sin, repent; a cycle that can go on for a lifetime as we learn to more fully surrender our lives to our Creator and strive for righteousness in all that we do. We say stupid things, do hurtful things, we are selfish, greedy, prideful, lustful. He loves us anyway and is patient and forgiving
As we learn how patient God is toward us, we then learn how to apply that patience towards others. Others who trespass against us in their own blindness or even spite. We become patient in knowing that God is working on their stubborn hearts just as He is ours.
It is like a flowing river, God is the head of the stream and what flows from Him to us we are not to dam up but let flow freely through us to others. God is patient with us so we must be patient with others.
We may have a loved one who is still in addictions, or are angry and hurting. Their pain came from someplace. They have their own hurts and resentments from their childhood or other relationships, or even from what we've caused. Others may be broken by different circumstances, but the way man tries to protect their heart is the same, through sin. Workaholism to get a sense of self worth, addictions to escape the pain, materialism to feel filled with "enough", pride and ego. These are all tools of the broken and lost, provided by Satan himself to distract us from true love.
We must be patient, offering everyone encouragement on their journey through this life. We are not to place unrealistic expectations on others . We do not say "you've been going to counseling for a month, how come you aren't better", or "I've been in recovery and I'm better, why aren't you", or "why can't you see what you are doing". We have to let people be who they are, when they are and meet them where they are. We must be patient, healing takes time, both of ourselves and in others. Patience is truly a virtue that God models for us.
The next word is KIND.
Aristotle defines kindness as being "helpfulness towards some one in need, not in return for anything, nor for the advantage of the helper himself, but for that of the person helped".
Kindness is selfless. It is the act of being there for someone, offering support and encouragement with no expectation of reward or reciprocal reaction. Again much like God's free gift of grace to us that we can never earn, it is a state of being that is freely given away. We should be kind to all we meet, devoid of expectations. Regardless of how someone treats us, we should be kind in return.
Luke 6:27-30 “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back.
In many cases we get back what we give out, we reap what we sow... so treat others as you would have them treat you.
Luke 6:31 And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
There are 11 do's and don'ts of love in this verse. If we could fully embrace even just these first two we could begin to experience the rewards of a deeper intimacy almost immediately. To become a patient and kind person is to love others more Christ-like. The payoff is huge, remember that "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things".