Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Corithians 13 - Part Three

The language in today's post may be a little difficult. I tried to make it as simple as possible. When God began showing me this stuff I was taken back. I thought about how difficult it is to practice what is written here. As I said at the beginning of this series, I am nowhere near close to acting this out even on a mediocre level. But I just need to remember that this is something I'm moving toward as I mature in Christ. Only God is perfect, and only God can walk perfectly in love all the time. My purpose is not to condemn, but to hopefully inspire you to think about how you act towards God, the people you love, and yourself.

One of the reasons I wanted to post this information is to combat the skewed ideas our society has about love. Our society has trivialized love. Love is not a feeling. It is a decision first, followed by actions and is sometimes accompanied by euphoric emotions. Oxytocin, the "love hormone" creates those euphoric emotions and is inconsistent at best, based on the newness of a relationship, our health, our hunger, our circumstances, our desires, and the list goes on and on. We should never base our love for others on feelings created by the presence or lack of a chemical compound in our bodies. We love others because we decide to. That's why God loves us. He decided to do so. And every action He has taken since is in rooted in that decision. That is the reason that countries in which prearranged marriages are the norm have a much lower divorce rate than the United States. I spoke with a lady in India when I was on a missions trip there who was in a prearranged marriage. She said that she loved her husband because she chose to love him, not because of how she felt about him. I'm not advocating prearranged marriage over the system we have in our culture. What I desire to see is that we choose love over feelings in all of our relationships, even when it is difficult.

1 Corinthians 13:4-5 – Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong]. (AMP)

Love is meek, humble, and considerate, putting the ease and comfort of others above its own pride and desire for attention. Love carries the heart attitude of a servant. Love doesn’t seek out attention for itself. Neither does it seek negative attention (seeking attention just for the sake of getting attention). The lover is content when all the attention is focused on the beloved and will act in ways that draw attention to the beloved and enhance the appearance, reputation, etc. of the beloved (e.g., the relationship between the Holy Spirit and Jesus).

Love defers to the beloved when necessary, even when its rights are encroached upon. It doesn’t remain angry or get offended when it suffers wrong at the hands of the beloved. But at the same time, love is balanced. Because love is always seeking what is best for the beloved, it will not become a “doormat” for the beloved. It is not passive, and certainly not aggressive. It is assertive. Love is not intimidated by the beloved. Love is not afraid of confrontation. Love will confront when necessary. It will apply correction when necessary, always with the goals of encouraging growth in the beloved and deepening their relationship in mind. When correction is applied it won’t be through anger or an argumentative and defensive position, but in a firm, assertive, and kind manner that will encourage a positive response from the beloved. It doesn’t force its point of view on the beloved and always try to be right, but fights fair so that the best solution can be accomplished.

Even in anger the lover always acts out of love toward the beloved. Anger in and of itself is not good or bad, but is qualified by our motivation and actions when we are angry. It is meant to motivate and empower us to do things we might not do otherwise – things that are positive, yet difficult. When the lover gets angry, he channels that anger into energy for seeking the best solution rather than allowing it to linger and turn into offense.

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