4 Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, 5 it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, 6 it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things.
Love “doesn’t keep a record of complaints” is a difficult ideal, maybe even impossible to live fully in this life. Paul was aware of that: “We know in part,” he went on to write in verse 9. But the ideals for which we aim matter. You can see where unchecked “keeping a record of complaints” leads by looking at Palestinians and Israelis and dozens of other warring ethnic groups. But you don’t need to study tragic world events. You need only look at thousands of broken relationships to see what happens when “score-keeping” replaces love and trust.
Lord Jesus, you walked among as genuine love incarnate. Help my understanding of love to grow beyond the sentimentalism my culture often confuses with love, and to be a robust force making every life I touch better. Amen.
Treating one another with patience and kindness can be difficult in relationships of any kind. Read Matthew 7:12. This Scripture is often called the Golden Rule. Hand out an index card to each person in your family. Have each person write, “I did or said something kind” on one side of the card. On the other side write, “I did or said something hurtful.” Ask each person to pay attention to their words and actions each day. Encourage them to place a mark on the appropriate side of the card each time they do something kind or hurtful. No one else needs to see the cards. These are just for each individual and God. Each day, work towards having fewer marks on the “hurtful” side and more marks on the “kind” side. Pray for God’s help to treat one another with patience and kindness.
1 Corinthians 13 is one of the most recognizable passages from the Bible. It is often read at weddings and hung on walls in old picture frames with the words stitched with red thread. (At least that’s where I remember first reading it in my grandmother's kitchen.)
I don’t remember who was teaching Sunday school one day, but I vividly remember them replacing “love” with “God” in this passage. It suddenly made God real and alive to me. The idea that God is patient and not irritable, that he puts up with all things and hopes the best was stunning to me. As a young child I had a healthy fear of God. I pictured him with a massive grey beard, pretty ticked off because we were all selfish and kept breaking his rules.
When I was eight I got a BB gun for Christmas. I was really excited, and couldn’t wait for my cousins to come over and shoot some cans. Earlier I had heard dad talking about covering the barn windows with plastic. So when my cousins finally arrived we shot some cans, and then I had the idea to shoot out the barn windows since dad was going to cover them up anyway! I’ll never forget telling dad at dinner that night that I had taken care of the barn window for him! As he explained my mistake to me, he could see my pain and embarrassment as he expressed his disappointment. He told me I would lose my BB gun for awhile--but it would be okay, and I would have to help him cover the barn windows. I learned a big lesson by the way my father responded with patience, restraint and hoping the best.
I wonder what the world would be like if we treated one another as Corinthians 13 describes. Being patient when we’re driving--especially if we’re behind someone slow or they cut us off in traffic! Being kind to each other, remembering that we never know what someone may be going through. Refusing to be jealous, resisting the temptation to brag, not being arrogant. Never being rude to anyone but especially to those we’re closest with.
In Matthew 16, Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
The cross Jesus carried was a symbol of loving sacrifice, and this is the cross that he says we must carry. As we carry our cross of love into the world let us demonstrate God’s love, patience and hope to all we meet.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you demonstrated sacrificial love as you walked among us, and ultimately on the cross. Fill me with your spirit and help me be a conduit of your love and grace to everyone one I meet today. Amen.
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