Love Never Ends-Abide in My Love Series

love never endsAs this series draws to a close in this post I can say it is the perfect closing to the year for me.  I feel I can finish strong.  I know that this theme has taught and served me well, but more importantly that these verses bring so much glory to the name of Christ.  And I am so thankful that I have had the chance to share them and my thoughts with you.  I pray that as we all enter this Advent season, we will see Jesus as our Hope, Light, Peace, Joy and most importantly our Love.

Paul tells us that love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (vs.6).  Jesus dined with sinners and sought them out to heal and save them, but he did not rejoice in their wrongdoings.  He rejoiced in the truth.  He rejoiced when a woman had the faith to reach out and touch just the fringe of his garment as he passed by and he healed her (Matthew 9:20).  He marveled and rejoiced at the faith of the Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his beloved servant with just word while still traveling.  He rejoiced as the woman poured alabaster on his feet and wiped them with her own tears and hair, kissing them.

Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.” And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:44-48)

He knew the truth was that they all had faith in Him and that they recognized him as the Christ. As we navigate our lives abiding in His Love, we need to remember to rejoice in this truth and seek out others who need his love. Speak it into the lives of your husbands and children, your neighbors, even your enemies.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.(Ephesians 4:15-16)

Now, let us look closely at the last 5 attributes that Paul gives to his personified “love”in verses 7 and 8.

Love bears all things. ~ Bearing the weight of suffering, sickness, tribulation, loss, grief, and temptation does not have to be done alone.  Love bears it all. His love is enough to carry you through.  For he says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Love is also finding genuine joy when the truth prevails in someone else’s life.

Love believes all things. ~ Jesus does not hold our sin against us.  Once we believe and call him Lord, we are forgiven and are clothed in his righteousness.  This is a hard thing to grasp in our minds.  We are forgiven.  So as Christians, we are called to love others, forgive others their trespasses and not to count up their wrongs in resentment.  Believing the best in others can be hard as we pick out faults and areas that we believe they need improvement and growth, but that is between them and the Lord. Love them, trust them and believe the best in them.

Love hopes all things. ~ Our God is the God of hope. (Romans 15:13) And we have every reason to hope in him. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:21-24) Having and understanding the hope we have in Christ aids us in our calling to love others. Regardless of one’s faults, we know that there is hope for them in every circumstance in Christ.

Love endures all things. ~ The trials of this life can threaten our relationships with others. Loving others the way Christ loves us takes endurance.  But fear not! We have our strength in HIM! By the power of the Holy Spirit grace upon grace is poured out bringing peace, hope, and love.  We can endure, because of his love for us. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. (Romans 5:1-5, ESV)

Love never ends. ~ Paul compares love to the spiritual gifts of prophecy, knowledge and languages which the Corinthians highly valued.  Those things will all pass away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10) Love in all its glory is divine. “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4 :15-16). Love will outlast all, even the sins and failures of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).

Love characterizes the life of a believer. Enabled by the Holy Spirit, we are to live out love in all we think, say, and do.

So my sweet sisters and brothers in Christ, Abide in His Love.

 

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Love is Not Irritable or Resentful- Abide in My Love Series

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What causes us to get irritated at another person? Is it a lack of patience? Are some people just able to push all the wrong buttons? Maybe, but the root of our irritability goes deeper yet.  It stems from our own desires and wants.  It grows from a selfish attitude.

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. (James 4:1-2)

When I get irritated it is almost 100% of the time because I am putting my own wants and desires above the needs of others.  I get irritated because my heart is focused on what I want.  I want my children to be quieter in the grocery store so I can avoid the aggravated looks from strangers as my boys fight like ninjas in the isles and my 3 year old daughter screams for cookies.  I speak to them, irritated, because I selfishly want others to see me as a good parent.

I get irritated in my marriage because I get too caught up in the little things that do not matter.  I stress over the dishes and laundry and forget to just love my husband and put his needs first.  More joy comes from snuggling on the couch talking with him about his day than running around doing silly chores while complaining about having to do them.  And he would rather me be in his arms and have my attention than have a spotless kitchen and clean clothes in his drawer.

Lately my own worst enemy that causes me to be irritable is my iPhone. I am horribly and shamefully addicted. Like Pavlov’s dogs I pick it up immediately when it rings, no matter what I am doing.  I get sucked into that email or article or weather report or,  Facebook {BUM, BUM, BUUMMMM}  My children interrupt to ask for something and I lash out in frustration because I am trying to read an email or write a text. Here is a link to a great blog post about Distracted Parenting for those of you who struggle in this area.

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Biblically, how do we stop this sinful behavior of irritability?

Proverbs 17:14 says,

“The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.”

It starts out small, so looking for triggers and being aware of them keeps us from letting the flood gates open.  Walking in love will help us to humble ourselves in thanksgiving and serve with love and patience.  Taking a moment of pray can plug that little leak in the dam.  Are you getting irritated because you are putting your wants and desires above the needs of others? Remember, love is putting others needs before our own and doing so expecting nothing in return. We have our Lord Jesus as our perfect example of this sacrificial love.  

This leads us into the last part of verse 5, “Love is not resentful”.  In Greek,  this verse reads, “Love is not irritable and does not count up wrongdoing”.   In Christ, we have been blessed by God, and are counted righteous apart from works. (Romans 4:6)

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. (Psalm 32:1-2)

God does not count up wrongdoing to those who are his in Christ.  When he looks upon us, he sees his righteous Son.  He loves us and we are called to abide in His love.  We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Loving others takes sacrifice.  And Jesus showed us this to the greatest degree, giving his own life for us to have life eternally with him.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

When we love others, we keep no record of wrongs.  We forgive and forget. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus teaches his disciples and us that praying for forgiveness of our sins requires that we have already forgiven those who have sinned against us. “And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us” (Luke 11:4).  Withholding forgiveness and having resentment towards others is not love.  It is not the love God has shown to us and and the love he commands us to have toward one another.

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15)

Some questions to ask ourselves:

1. What is it that really causes you to get irritated? Consider what might trigger it and aim to stop it in its tracks with God’s word hidden in your heart.

2. Are you letting your own desires and wants cloud your thoughts and not putting others first? Remember “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. (1 Corinthians 10:24)

3. Is there someone in your life that you are counting up wrongdoing? Are you keeping a mental record of wrongs in your heart causing you to resent someone and not love them? Seek to forgive them and ask for forgiveness for your own sin.

As we enter this Season of Thanksgiving, let us remember all we have to be thankful for in our Lord and Savior.  For thankfulness will produce praise and rejoicing in our hearts and when we have the Joy of the Lord as our strength, loving others will not be a burden, but a delight.  Have a blessed day!

Love is Not Rude or Self-Seeking- Abide in My Love Series

loveisnotrudeWhat does it mean to say “Love is not rude”? For us, in today’s culture to be rude is to be offensive, impolite or ill-mannered.  In the KJV of the Bible it is defined as behaving “unseemly” or “unbecomingly”.  The definition for “unbecomingly” is – inappropriate behavior, especially not behaving according to the standards appropriate to one’s position or condition of life.

What is our position? As believer’s we are children of God.  What is our condition of life? We are ransomed and have the promise of eternal life.  So in the context of this verse, I will be bold enough to say, “love does not act unchristlike” (not becoming to or like a Christian).  So then we may say, “Love is acting like a follower of Christ”.

As we have seen in the previous verses and I have discussed in previous posts, Christ’s love is patient, kind, content and humble. The next part of verse 5 gives us even more insight to the love of Christ.  It is sacrificial.

“Love is not rude, it does not insist on its own way.” (1 Corinthians 13:5, ESV)

If we are not insisting that things are done our way then we are making a sacrifice of self and intentionally putting others needs before our own.  I don’t know about you, but I can tell you that this is one of the hardest things I am called to do as a Christian.  We are hard wired to be selfish.  Some of it is instinct, most of it is our sinful hearts.  I continually get tangled in the web of my own thoughts and desires. And there lies the danger of sin.

“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15, ESV)

So how do we fight these desires to please ourselves? By receiving grace from Christ and paying that grace forward to others in love.  And here is an amazing thing about practicing grace, from it comes an abundance of joy and thankfulness, that puts our hearts in a state of self-forgetfulness and springs us into service.

When we understand that we didn’t deserve to be saved by Christ’s life, death, and resurrection we can look upon those who we may think don’t deserve our love and be able to pour it forth abundantly without holding back or expecting anything in return.

A beautiful example of this was seen in the early church just after Christ’s resurrection.  They were believing and being baptized by thousands in a single day.

“So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” (Acts 2:41-47, ESV)

And again in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul is describing the generosity of those among the churches of Macedonia.  Even though they were severely afflicted and poor, they understood the grace of God and had an “abundance of joy” that “overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Corinthians 8:2). And this generosity stemmed from grateful hearts for the grace they had received in Christ.

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

As you go through the day, turn your eyes upon Jesus and remember the free gift of salvation you have.  It will produce great joy in your heart and give you strength to love others as Christ loves you. Not behaving unbecomingly, but as a servant of God. Not insisting in your own way, but generously sacrificing your own self-worth and becoming rich in the righteousness and love of Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions to ask ourselves:

1. Have you behaved in an unchristlike manner recently? How can you repent and right that wrong? Do you need to ask for forgiveness? Remember to be honest about your sin and not try to justify your behavior in selfishness.

2.  What is an area of your life where you constantly insist on your own way? Is it as simple of a thing as having the dishwasher loaded a certain way or something as damaging as overriding your husband in things like discipline of the children or finances? Can you let go of some unrealistic expectations and trust fully in God?

Love is not Proud- Abide in My Love Series

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On those sweet mornings when I can actually be up for an hour or two before the kids wake up, I enjoy the solitude and spend some extra time in prayer.  I am usually sitting in my comfy recliner all covered up with a cozy blanket and warm drink by my side and my Bible, journal, or prayer notebook in my lap. But this past week, it felt wrong.  I was drawn on several occasions to my knees in prayer and the transformation in my heart and attitude was powerful!  I mean seriously on my knees,  face down on the couch cushion or bedside drenching it in tears and humbled before my God.  It was out of conviction that I found myself there.  As I was reading verse after verse about pride, arrogance, and conceit I saw how my own pride had been keeping me submerged in myself.  I did not have a humble servant’s heart, but instead was living in my own thoughts and wants.

We all have the sin of pride in varying degrees. As it has been said, “Pride is the root of all sin”.  Different translations of the Bible say in this verse that love is not “proud, arrogant, conceited or puffed up.”  Do any of those adjectives describe a person you would say is loving?  Maybe loving themselves.  In fact, they are so consumed with self and possessions, there is no room for love of others.  And this is exactly why pride is so detrimental to love.  It puts self first and its priorities are on the things of this world.

Pride is competitive in nature and makes a person try and lift himself above others. This will never produce harmony or unity, but only conflict and division. It builds up walls and barriers and leaves no room for humble service.  It is in direct opposition of Jesus’ call to “love one another”.

If you do a word study of “pride, proud or arrogance” in the Bible, you will not have to read very many references to see what an abomination the Lord considers pride to be. Here is a quick sampling of verses.

Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure. (Psalm 101:5)

Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)

“Scoffer” is the name of the arrogant, haughty man who acts with arrogant pride. (Proverbs 21:24)

Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. (Psalm 31:18)

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)

Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. (Proverbs 21:4)

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

These are the verses that brought me to my knees in tears.  I confess I was proud.  You see, I was exalting myself and wanting the glory.  I was more eager to get what I wanted than to die to myself and serve my family with love.  I was serving, but not always without complaining.

Then after the confession, I turned to scripture again. I was seeking Him. My heart was humbled and the Lord alone did that.

One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor. (Proverbs 29:23)

The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day. (Isaiah 2:11, repeated again in vs. 17)

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just; and those who walk in pride he is able to humble. (Daniel 4:37)

When we are proud, we are scattered in our own thoughts.  In Mary’s Song she says “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate” (Luke 1:51-52). But humility gets us out of our own heads and sets our sights on God.  Only then can love pour forth to others, out from our hearts full of thankfulness.  Loving one another requires a humble servant’s heart.  Jesus showed us exactly what that looks like.

In Philippians 2, Paul is instructing the Church to serve one another in love.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:1-4) 

In Christ Jesus we have a perfect example of a humble servant.  Jesus was not proud or boastful, although he had every right to be. He had a willingness to deprive himself of his exalted status.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8)

In the footnotes of my NIV Bible it says he did not count equality with God a thing to be “asserted”.  He could have used it to his own advantage, but chose not to. His humility was a process of emptying himself, taking and being found in human form and dying.

And in direct response to His obedience, the Father restored him to His glorious heavenly status that he always had from the beginning, but willingly relinquished for a time.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

His humiliation led to his exaltation. And so it must be for us.

We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.” (Romans 15:1-3)

I can keep my eyes on Jesus and by his grace and grace alone, love and serve others for their good.  For God “opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). And out of humility, I can consider others more significant than myself.  “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way” (Psalm25:9).   But my reward will be great in heaven, “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation” (Psalm 149:4).

Are you humbly serving others in love, or are you putting yourself first? Consider the cross and see the grace Jesus has given us. Though we may be unappreciated, taken for granted or even persecuted in our service here on earth, we have a Savior that deserved even more and suffered to the point of death, because he cared for us.

 

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6-7)

 

Love Does Not Envy or Boast- Abide in My Love Series

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Love does not envy or boast. (1 Corinthians 13:4)

Envy: discontentment and resentful longing aroused by someone else’s achievements, possessions, or abilities.

Boast: to talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s own achievements, possessions, or abilities.

I look at these two definitions and I am reminded of the age old “which comes first: egg or chicken” debate.  Does the boaster make it easier for the other to fall into envy? Does the attention of those who envy make the boaster boast even more? But if you look right past that, you will see that both vices are fueled by a focus on self and possession.  They have taken their eyes off of God  and love the things of this world.

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:15-17)

And They are “wise in their own eyes” (Proverbs 3:7).

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)

The love that we are commanded to have toward one another is not of this world.  It is the love of God, merciful and impartial.  Love that would cause a Father to sacrifice his one and only Son so others who believe in him will have eternal life.  Love that would suffer through pain, torture, separation from the Father, and even death to save those who are still sinners.  It is a love that is other concerned.

Loving one another should not drive us to envy, but we should rejoice with others and celebrate their successes with them. Loving God and putting him first in our lives grows a heart of thankfulness and causes us not to boast in ourselves, but give him the glory and the praise.

If we are going to long after something in our hearts, let it be the righteousness of God that comes through faith in Christ.  Let it be love, peace, and joy.  Let it be service to others with a grateful heart.

By not comparing ourselves to others, we can be free to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). With his grace we have the freedom to use our talents and gifts to serve Him. There will be no more room for boasting in ourselves.

For “Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

and “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends. (2 Corinthians 10:17-18)

It is sometimes easier for me to understand the “is nots” and “does nots” of this verse it I replace it with what love “is”.

If love does not envy, then love is content.

If love does not boast, then love is humble.

Some questions to ask ourselves today:

1. Is there someone in your life that you are envying? How can you renew your mind to look at them with joy and be content with and thankful for the blessings you have?

2. Is there something in your life that causes you to boast in your own abilities? Take another look and find the ways that you can give God the praise and glory that is due to him.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Psalm 34:2-3)

Love is Kind- Abide in My Love Series

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This summer I visited a theme park with my family.  The day before I had hurt my back stepping into a pool.  It hurt to walk, sit, turn or even lay down.  The pain was constantly on my mind, but I trudged on through the park that day.  Close to the end, as we were on our way out of the park we came upon one of the old wooden roller coasters and my husband convinced me to go on “the big kid ride” since we had been doing kiddie rides all day. It was fast and furious.  My husband put it best when he said, “I feel like I was just in a car accident”.  Somehow during the ride though, I was shaken and thrown around enough that when I was done, my back felt better.  Whatever was out of place got shaken back into its proper alignment and I was pain free.

My internal dialogue with God when I am in the eye of a stormy trial resembles a roller coaster ride. I move speedily from peaks of understanding and grace to deep stomach churning valleys of self-indulgence and self-pity. All the while being flipped and turned and shaken by the Holy Spirit and the truth of God’s word.  But by the end of the prayer, the pain is gone.  And I am free to go forth in love with a pure heart.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I have learned over time to stop myself in moments of frustration or affliction and say a silent prayer over 1 Corinthians 13:4.  I tell you, it is very rare, that I ever make it past the first half of verse 4. “Love is patient and kind.”

For two reasons:

1. Patience and Kindness are the first things to go when we are not loving others as we are called to.

2. Patience and Kindness are the first fruits we see when we chose to love others as we are called to.

If patience is love doing nothing, then kindness is doing something intentionally with love. First we have to have no reaction, so as to pray and consider the correct, loving reaction we should have. If we are being patient we will not withhold love out of bitterness or resentment, but give kindness freely out of love. For, “He who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty” (Job 6:14) and “By this all people will know that [we] are [Jesus’] disciples, if [we] have love for one another” (John 13:35).

My prayer usually resembles something like this; “Lord, give me YOUR LOVE to be patient right now. I do not feel like being kind to this person who is hurting me.  Give me the endurance to suffer and the wisdom to keep my mouth shut. Change my heart to view them through Your eyes and in light of your grace towards me.  Lord, show me how I can show kindness in this situation and let me do it from a pure heart expecting nothing in return.”

Now, as beautiful as it may appear typed up like this, don’t get me wrong. It hurts to pray it and it can be ugly.  This is a prayer you pray when you are bearing your cross and following your Savior. Most times it is poured out through tears on my knees on the floor of my laundry room, or as I am balling in my car driving down the road. I will tell you this though, when I pray this prayer, His love and peace and joy beyond all circumstances are magnified in my heart and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me( Philippians 4:13).

Now, you may have noticed, above in my prayer, the bold letters “YOUR LOVE“.   When I am praying to love someone who is just downright unloveable, I can only do so with the love of God and by default, with his patience and kindness.  So let’s take a look at some scriptures that show us the kindness of God.

Psalm 145:13,17 tells us that “The Lord is faithful in all his words, righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.”  In Luke 6:35, as Jesus is commanding his disciples to “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return” he states that “the Father is merciful” (v.36) and “he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil”.  We are called to love as God loves, he gives us the example of mercy and loving kindness even to the ungrateful and evil.  If we are faithful to obey, “our reward will be great and we will be Sons of the Most High”. (v.35)

As hard as it is to love those who are ungrateful, we must remember that that is how God shows his love to us.

God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior. (Titus 3:3-6)

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)

We cannot wait around for others to act in a way we deem to be deserving of our love and kindness.  We are called to be merciful as our Father is merciful.  In doing so, we are showing others the love and grace of God and the gospel.

Now, sometimes it is not only enemies, but those who are closest to us that we are struggling to be patient with and kind to.  In marriage and parenting we get many opportunities to bear this fruit and many times we fall short.  Our sin nature rears its ugly head.  I have compared myself way too much with the Proverbs 31 wife and seen my own shortcomings, but still I look to this scripture as a goal to attain.  I want to be the wife who “opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (v. 26)  In Titus 2:3-5, Older women are called to “teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled”. (Titus 2:3-5).  As we grow as Christians and disciples of the Lord, we bear much fruit.   Lord, please make my heart so familiar with your mercy and kindness that I am teaching it to my spouse, children, friends, and even strangers by example.

My prayer is that we will “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11). “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Here are some questions to ask yourself.

  1. Is there someone specific in your life that you struggle to be kind to?
  2. When you consider the kindness God has shown you, how can you look past your reasons and show them kindness even when they are ungrateful?
  3. Is there someone in your life that you can encourage in their struggles to love someone with patience and kindness?
  4. Are you finding ways in your day to show kindness to your family and strangers, expecting nothing in return?

 

Love is Patient- Abide in My Love Series

loveispatient

“Love is patient…” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

The good Lord has given me ample opportunity this week to be patient.  And when I failed (every time I failed) I vented my frustrations without thinking.  Words just spilled out along with a bad attitude.  Immediate conviction sets in.  Patience is not easy, especially for those who fight pride on a daily basis (Imagine a big flashing arrow blinking over my head right now).

Why is it so hard to listen to a second grader take 30 minutes to read 6 pages out of his emerging reader? Why do I snap at my husband over his socks being on the floor of the dining room again (at least he is consistent).  Why do I lose my cool when inanimate objects fall, break, or seemingly jump in from of me causing me to stub my toe? (This one really seems ridiculous upon reflection.)

Even more convicting is the many stories of bold Christians enduring persecution and even death for the sake of their faith and their love of Jesus Christ.  They are giving their lives in obedience to the command to “love one another” while I struggle to patiently love my faithful, loving husband and precious children.

I will tell you it is harder for me on days where I have been rushing and have not had time in prayer or God’s word.   But in those moments when I am choosing to put others first, listening, praying, and forgetting about my own wants and desires, the Holy Spirit pours forth the patience and I am abiding in the love of Christ.  It is a gift, and a choice.  It is there waiting to be asked for and when I humbly come knocking, seeking, asking, it is opened, found and received.

In the first post of the Abide in My Love Series, we defined Jesus’ love for us through the eyes of the gospel of His grace.  Oh how marvelous is the grace of our loving Lord, poured out for us at the cross as the ultimate sacrifice. And this loving sacrifice cultivates in us humility to love others.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:14-15)

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Paul describes love as having the qualities of a person to give us an example of what it looks like to “love one another”.   I believe he can undoubtedly be describing Jesus Christ. He is our example of love, and if “love is patient”, then he will be perfect in it.

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1 Timothy 1:16)

As Paul describes to Timothy in his letter, he received mercy because he had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of the Lord overflowed for him with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 1:13-14) And what was Paul’s reaction to this gift of grace?  He made Christ the foremost of himself. For Jesus’ sake he suffered the loss of all things and counted them as rubbish, in order that he may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8) That is SACRIFICE OF SELF.

How else does God show patience?

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

He cares that much that he is willing to wait until more know him and can become his children.   Oh how powerful it would be if the next time we were under the afflictions of another, instead of letting anger take control we said to ourselves, “I am willing to endure this pain silently in the hopes that my patience and love for them might lead them into repentance.”

The King James Version uses the term “long-suffering” in Galatians 2:22 when it is listed as a fruit of the Spirit. And in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is says “Charity suffereth long”.

The Greek translation is makrothyméō – to be of long spirit, not to lose heart, to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles, to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.

We can conclude that patience is passive. One scholar defined it as the quality of putting up with other people, even when sorely tried.  We are called to be patient in this love for one another.  Let’s look at some passages that define our calling a little more.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. (James 1:19-20)

This “quickness to listen and slowness to speak and to be angered” is patience.  James contrasts it here with anger.  Whether you are annoyed and offended by another person’s actions or are the victim of their affliction, keeping silent goes a long way.  If the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, than we can conclude that patience does. Consider this verse.

So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. (2 Timothy 2:22-25)

If we are pursuing righteousness, faith, love, and peace, then we are avoiding conflict and being kind while “patiently enduring evil”, and correcting others with gentleness.  It is a sacrifice of self, this love that Jesus commands from us. And patience is the first step; it is love doing nothing.  Then from patience we are in the right place to give kindness and gentleness.  But if we let our hurt and frustrations come screaming to the forefront, there is no room left for the kindness and gentleness, without first seeking forgiveness.

How else are we called to be patient? In the parable of the sower, Jesus explains what he meant by the seeds that fell on the good soil.

As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:15)

When we are abiding in Christ, His love, and His Word, we will bear fruit WITH PATIENCE. “For the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) They all go together, you cannot have one and not the other.

In Ephesians 4:2 we are called to “walk in it”.

Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2)

In Colossians 3:12 we are called to “clothe ourselves in it”.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, (Colossians 3:12)

In 2 Corinthians 6:4-8, Paul describes how we can suffer yet endure with patience.

But as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true. (2 Corinthians 6:4-8)

In Romans 12:12, Paul calls us to be patient in tribulation.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (Romans 12:9-12)

And in 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Paul calls us to be patient with all sorts of characters.

And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)

The Lord teaches us and enables us to love, as God loves and to be patient, as Christ is patient.

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8)

Here are some questions we can ask ourselves.

  1. What current situation calls for you to have patience?
  2. What person or situation is causing you the most pain right now?
  3. What attitude do you think God desires from you in this situation, especially when you consider the patience of Christ?

It is far easier for us to give into our emotions and anger when someone has hurt us, than it is to practice patience.  Sometimes it takes all of God’s strength for us to DO NOTHING.  But when you consider the silence of the Lamb of God as he gave his life for us while we were yet sinners, you can know that the humility and strength we need is God’s free gift to us in His grace and LOVE.

ABIDE IN IT.