Love is Kind- Abide in My Love Series

kind

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?

 

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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.