Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Love suffers long . . .

I thought leading up to thanksgiving, that I would go through 1 Corinthians 13 one small step at a time so that we can see some characteristics of love, but more importantly, characteristics of God. Over the next week, I am going to try and take a snippet of some of the characteristics from verses 4 through 8, and apply them to stories in my life presently or to apply them to areas in our lives we can all learn from. So with no further ado,

1 Corinthians 13:4 NKJV "Love suffers long and is kind; Love does not envy; Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up."

One of the ways I love to look at these verses is to replace the word Love with the word God. Afterall, in 1 John 4:8 we read "God is Love"; both being the Agape form of the word love which can only be described as a heavenly, unconditional love. So God suffers long and is kind. Do you believe that? Lets look first at the cross! God so loved US, that HE hung on a tree and DIED so that we might be found completely forgiven and completely righteous. You might say that Jesus was God and that he could not suffer, but then you hear his cries toward the father "why have you forsaken me?" Truly know that Jesus suffered long for you and for me! and not only did he suffer but he was kind as he looked over at the guilty thief and said, "Today you will be with me in paradise" and then looking at all of the people responsible for executing Him (everyone really), and saying "Forgive them, for they know not what they do!" That is merciful and kind!

But you might say, "Well God has never been kind toward me! He has left my life in shambles after taking my job away, or He took my friend away from me at such a young age, or He didn't prosper me to the point in life that I thought he was directing me!" The list really can go on and on. But I urge you to reexamine whatever issue it is in your life to doubt God's love for you. The Lord can give, and the Lord can take away. We are just called to trust in faith, and follow. Maybe you lost your job and it's caused a lot of stress and heart ache at home, but maybe God has a more important place for you or maybe its so you can take a season getting a chance to love your family more. Maybe a friend or family member died at a very young age and you wonder why a loving God could do that to you or to that person! That is a tough situation indeed, but so many times does God work through areas like that. Its different in every situation but just take some time and look for the light, look for what God might be trying to tell you. Love does suffer long, and is kind!

I wanted to add something from the original posting in regards to this topic. This is a music video by Josh Wilson that deals with loss and heartache and seeing God's love. check it out, HERE

Love does not envy; Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up.
This might sound simple, But God is completely sufficient in Himself. He does not envy for anything and does not parade Himself (or as the KJV translation puts it "vaunteth itself up"). God in his sufficiency still loved us enough to send His Son to die for us!

So how can this verse apply to our lives and help us love God and love those around us? In a commentary by Jon Courson, regarding this passage, he writes

"The person who understands that 1 Corinthians 13 is most fundamentally talking about the nature and character of God's love toward him personally will be one who inevitably overflows with love to the people around him".

If we are to seek after God, and God is love, and these are the characteristics of love, then we ought to remember these are the qualities we strive after. So when we are around others, no matter what they do to us, we suffer long and are still kind. That might seem incredibly hard, but next time a situation arises, look back at the cross and remember God's love toward you and maybe, just maybe, it will help you figure out how to suffer long. When you are around others, don't parade yourself, or puff yourself up, for blessed are the humble! Don't envy after what others have, or what you yourself want, but learn that contentment with earthly things, is the only way to strive after heavenly things!

I'll continue with verse 5 and more of the characteristics of God in the next couple days. Until then, love God, and love people, and apply these characteristics into your daily situations.

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