I had an interesting conversation with one of my children the other day about politics and love of our fellow man.
Which party best advocates love?
To tell you the truth, I think neither side does a particularly stellar job of it. Switching back and forth from one cable news channel to the other can be depressing.
The bitterness and, yes, hatred I feel emanating from the nightly news doesn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. That’s for certain.
But don’t worry. This article is not about politics. I’ll leave that to those with more backbone than I. I want to talk about love.
What is it? What does it look like?
If I asked most of you what I Corinthians 13 was about you would say, “Oh, I know that one. That’s the love chapter.”
That’s right. It’s the chapter we read for a working model of what love looks like.
So what does love look like?
We have a pretty distorted view of love in our society.
I think the easiest way to say it is—love looks like God—because God is love.
I John 4:8 He who does not love has not become acquainted with God . . . for God is love. Amplified
This scripture tells us that God is love, and if we don’t love, it’s because we don’t know God. It doesn’t matter if we’re a professing Christian. It doesn’t matter if we go to church. If we don’t love, we’re not really acquainted with God.
Since God is love, I’m going to substitute “God” into I Corinthians 13 for the word love (or charity, as it’s translated in the King James Version) and see what we can learn about the nature of God. I think we might be surprised.
I Corinthians 13:4-8
Charity (God) suffereth long and is kind. KJV
God doesn’t throw up His hands and say, “I’ve just had it with you!”
God has long patience, not a short fuse.
It’s hard to be a patient parent. Sometimes our kids sorely try us, but we love them, and we put up with a lot as we train them to adulthood. So, why do we think God won’t be patient with us? Our mental image of a God who is eager to mete out punishment is not scripturally sound.
He commanded us to forgive seventy times seven. I suppose if He expects us to forgive the same person 490 times, He will forgive us a few more than that.
(God) is kind. KJV
Many people don’t think of kindness when they think of God, and for good reason. Unfortunately, the God being projected over many pulpits today is not a kind God. He’s mean-spirited and angry. It’s no wonder people don’t want to know that God. Why would they? Love is kind. I didn’t say it. The Bible said it. And since God is love, God is kind.
(God) envieth not KJV
The Greek definition of envieth is boil, be jealous of, as a husband
At first a woman with a jealous husband might feel loved, but that perverted love usually boils over and becomes abusive. Jealousy is a dangerous element in a marriage. If your husband is excessively jealous, it’s all about him—not you. Of course, that applies to wives as well.
God is not a jealous husband. He doesn’t get upset if we want some time to ourselves. He doesn’t mind if we have fun. He delights to see us enjoy ourselves.
The type of jealousy God has is not possessive. It’s not about Him. It’s about us. He’s jealous for us. He gets angry when He sees anyone abuse us.
(God) is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display (Himself) haughtily. Amplified
When someone is haughty, they put themselves above other people. God lowers Himself. He gets beneath us and lifts us up.
(God) is not conceited, arrogant and filled with pride. He is not rude, unmannerly, and does not act unbecomingly. Amplified
God is not rude. Rude people are not interested in other people. They interrupt. They’re not considerate of other’s feelings. They manipulate others by not speaking to them or withholding approval. I’ve had people like that in my life. It’s extremely detrimental to a relationship.
Being punished with silence is as painful as taking a beating.
God listens to us with genuine interest when we speak. He never wants to embarrass us in front of others. He covers us. He doesn’t put His nose in the air and say, “I’m not speaking to you!” He always speaks. We just have to quiet ourselves enough to hear Him.
(God) does not insist on His own rights or His own way. Amplified
God does not have the attitude, MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY! His motivation is always for our good, for our safety, not just so He can be the boss. Jesus didn’t insist on his rights when He gave up His place beside the Father and came to this earth to die on the cross for our sins.
Unfortunately, we’re constantly encouraged to demand our rights. Especially in the media. Have you noticed how many commercials tell us that we “deserve” their product or service?
Have it your way may be good advice when ordering a hamburger, but it doesn’t make for a good relationship.
If anyone had the right to insist on having His own way, it was Jesus, but He left us a great example to follow.
(God) is not self-seeking; He is not touchy or fretful or resentful. Amplified
God is not “high maintenance.”
He is not touchy—sulking and withdrawing from us when we don’t do exactly as He wishes.
Some people use this as a way to manipulate others. I’ve had a few friends like that. It always made me feel insecure, like I needed to do something to regain the offended person’s love and approval. It’s a way of controlling people. We don’t have to “tip toe” around God to stay in His good graces.
Love (God) takes no account of the evil done to (Him), pays no attention to a suffered wrong.
God does not keep a record of our wrongs. When He forgives us of something He doesn’t throw it back in our faces.
Of course, God never forgets anything, but He chooses not to remember it against us.
I knew someone who literally kept a record of the wrongs committed against him. When he died, his family found his lists. How sad to see such unforgiveness from the grave.
Maybe, it’s hard for us to believe God doesn’t keep lists because we keep them ourselves. Time to tear them up!
Love (God) does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail
Are we willing to put up with injustice and unrighteousness to make life easier? That’s not love. God is love, but He doesn’t turn a blind eye to the evil in the world. There will be a reckoning—and that’s love, too.
(God) bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, (His) hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and (He) endures everything without weakening.
Jesus bore up under the sins of the world. He’s always ready to believe the best about us. Do you think of God that way? Do you believe He believes the best about you, or do you believe He’s disappointed in you? Do you believe His hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, or do you believe He’s already given up on you? Well, He hasn’t because love doesn’t do that, and God is love.
(God) never fails.
Sometimes we think He fails because He doesn’t do what we ask of Him. But the truth is God never fails to do what is best for us. That should give us peace and hope.
If we really get to know God, we’ll realize that He’s kind. He never fails. He’s patient. He’s always looking for the good in us. He’s not haughty. He doesn’t keep a record of our wrongs.
If we get to know God, we’ll know what love looks like, because love looks like God.
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