I Corinthians 13: 4-7
I am sorry about the delay in posting the second installment on the Love Chapter. Other things have come up, including being asked to preach at our church. But I’m back, and let’s continue this important study on Love. My last blog ended with “Love is not proud” from I Corinthians 13: 4-7 as printed below.
To bring you up to speed, we often think we know what love looks like. In weddings, the stated passage from Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth is often used in the ceremony or printed in the Order of Service. But the question must be answered: “What does this passage from the ‘Love Chapter’ really mean?” To be clear, the Greek word for “love” here is “agape” (pronounced “ah-GAH-peh”), and it points to God’s kind of self-giving, self-sacrificing kind of love.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” [I Corinthians 13: 4-7. NIV]
Love is Not Rude. Rudeness cuts the other person down, making them feel less than they are. It belittles the other person. Love, on the other hand, builds up the other person. Look for opportunities to encourage and build up the esteem and self-concept of other persons in your life – including the cashier in the store, the restaurant server, and others you may meet.
To be clear, love precludes name-calling in a relationship. A foul name you use for someone else tends to live on in that person’s mind and psyche. It becomes a part of the other person’s self-concept as to who they are and their worthiness. How do spouse abusers get by with it? Their spouses are so low in their self-concept and feelings of self-worth that they believe they have no life without the abuser, that the abuser really does love them. What is abuse? We often think of physical abuse or sexual abuse. However, verbal and emotional abuse is every bit as harmful, especially for children. If you don’t feel safe, or you know someone who doesn’t feel safe, please refer to the numbers and websites below (in the United States):
> Abuse hotline: 1-800-799-7233 [from the National Domestic Violence Hotline website: thehotline.org ]
> Child abuse hotline: 1-800-422-4453 [website: childhelphotline.org ]
> Also, if you are wondering what abuse looks like, please see [ https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/power-and-control/ ] The credit for the Power and Control diagram are in the text associated with the diagram.
Love is Not Self-Seeking. A child is self-seeking. I want this; I want that. Instant gratification. We have fast food restaurants – then reports of people attacking staff when they felt their order was taking too long. A refusal to wear masks during the pandemic, even so far as entering a store or a restaurant where the signs plainly read that masks are required. “Love is not self-seeking.” If you love, your comfort and your desires won’t be the primary concern of your life. Love seeks out the good of others for their benefit.
In churches, synagogues, mosques or temples, isn’t it out of place for individuals or a small group to seek control in those organizations? Some houses of faith prevent this by having an ecclesiastical hierarchy (an administrative line of control) – but then it still happens – people rising to power to seek control. In a more congregational structure whereby the people have the final say in approving or denying decisions, there are those who rise up to “take over a church” such that all decisions must be approved by them – not by position but by control within the congregation. Speaking as a former pastor, these people can make pastoring difficult. At the most, they cause church splits and result in people becoming disenchanted with following God. This is not God’s kind of love. Love seeks to do good for the benefit of others.
Love is Not Easily Angered. Paul doesn’t say that a person with God’s kind of love is never angry. Of course you are going to get angry at times. But anger should be self-controlled. Love is NOT suddenly blowing up at the slightest provocation or perceived wrong. Love is NOT lashing out at someone in a hurtful way.
Also, in your anger, do not sin. Paul says it this way in Ephesians:
“ ‘In your anger do not sin’: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.” [Ephesians 4: 26-27. NIV]
In your anger, do not sin. In your anger, do not hurt anyone or anything – not through physical attack, not through verbal attack and not through emotional attack. Do not seek petty retribution (“That person did this to me, so I’ll do such-and-such to them to pay them back.”). Do not do anything that that is different than loving God above everything else and loving your neighbor as yourself.
I addressed anger further in the blog “God’s Love – Welding Divisions Together” on March 16, 2021.
Love Keeps No Record of Wrongs. In the early 1970’s, there was a counseling approach called “Transactional Analysis” as popularized by the book Games People Play by Eric Berne in 1964. There was one game that people play called “The Historian.” It looks like this:
Someone did something wrong to you or said something wrong. They realized it was wrong. They apologized and asked for forgiveness. You accept their apology and say that you have forgiven them – but you never forget. You never quite let it go. In fact, you keep bringing up that hurt from the past. Or in the case of a married couple, you may not mention it for twenty years. But then the other person hurts you – and you bring it up that they did such-and-such in the past. That is being a Historian. And that is keeping a record of wrongs.
Get over it. Let it go. Get on with life. It’s not doing anyone any good to harbor those ill feelings – least of all, you. This is severe enough that, if you can’t let it go and it gnaws away at your inner self, it may be helpful to seek out the skilled help of a professional therapist – a Clinical Psychologist, a Psychiatrist or a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
I will stop there. However, I will continue this study on the Love Chapter (I Corinthians 13) as soon as I can, perhaps early next week, as there is just one more blog to do to complete this chapter. I try to keep my blogs down to 1,000 to 1,200 words. My early blogs were about 2,000 words as recommended by a 400-page book on blogging that I read (oh, the irony). That was too much for even me to read, let alone write. I’ve found the shorter blogs are a little easier for the reader to digest, and even they take me five to seven hours to write. Have a great week! If you are inclined and you feel it is safe, I hope you will enjoy attending worship in your church, synagogue, mosque or temple sometime in the next seven days.
Remain safe. We are still in a pandemic. Live accordingly for the sake and love of others.
Categories: How Can the Bible Relate to Us Today?