1 Corinthians 13
13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.
37Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
I don’t know about you, but, for me, this is the toughest part of being a Christian. I know that I am a new creation in Christ Jesus and that I am to live a sanctified life. But this issue of love, well that’s formidable. If I can just master this skill set, then I’ll have it made.
I think about all the people who have wished me ill and try to imagine myself loving them. That’s about as hard as forgiving them. And when I read 1 Corinthians 13 I am shocked and dismayed because I feel I’ll never love anyone.
“Love suffers long and is kind.” Okay, I can do that. I am longsuffering and I have been kind, in fact I am kind to most everyone I meet. I’m more of a closet hater. I have opinions about everything.
“Love does not envy.” This one I have failed at. I see people who have things that I used to want: success, health, wealth, a nice house, a new car. This one I might catch myself in every now and again but it isn’t a lingering problem.
“Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.” I’m good here. I don’t think highly of myself and I don’t go around showing off or thinking I’m better than anyone else.
“, does not behave rudely,” Here I am challenged. My mental illness gets in the way sometimes and I might say something in a rude tone, or I just might say something rude, period. So this I have to work on.
“, does not seek its own,” I take this to mean selfishness and I am sure that I am guilty of this one. For the most part I am a generous man and have given people the shirt off my back – I even gave a couple my only vehicle (a van) so they could have a roof over their heads. I felt good doing it too. And I was homeless at the time, so this was a big deal for me. But, do I seek my own end in things. I’m sure I do.
“, is not provoked,” This is a big one for me. I am easily offended and when I was not on my meds, I jump at the chance to clean someone’s clock. I am too easily provoked, for sure.
“, think no evil.” Well, that ends it, I think evil thoughts all the time. Whether it’s some stupid idiot who pisses me off, or some dumb acre on television who is whining that he/she doesn’t get enough respect from the law or other people, I just immediately think ill of them. Politics sure bring those people out of the woodwork and I buy into it every time.
“does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth” “They got what they deserved” That has come out of my mouth many times. I tend to not think like Christ, instead, I am vulgar, wishing people would come to the realization that they screwed up. And I wish that they get a huge wake-up call in hopes that they would change their behavior. But what am I doing? I’m professing to be better than they are by suggesting that I don’t need a wake-up call.
“bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Nope. Not me. I don’t have that endurance. I am skeptical of everybody. I don’t trust anybody. I have only one hope and that is that the story of the cross and the empty tomb are real.
So my scorecard shows that I have A LOT to work on. Thankfully, I am bought and I have God on my side. His love never fails and He is oh so patient with me. I fall and fail time after time, but as long as I keep getting up and trying to change my ways, I can have peace. I know that there is nothing I can do to win salvation, so I don’t worry about that, I know I’m saved and that gives me peace. I just have to keep trying to live up to the standard so that Christ can live through me.
Maybe one day I will be able to say that I have loved my neighbor as I love myself. Until that day, well…