I Corinthians 13…one of my favorite passages of scripture. The LOVE chapter. It’s recited at weddings, read in church and memorized by children. Sure, we’ve all heard it before and some of us can quote the whole thing, but have we made the transition from the knowing in our brains and the knowing in our hearts? How often do we become envious of another person’s possessions or positions? How often are we rude while standing in a very long line at the grocery store (when there’s only ONE!?! register open, especially!) or when the driver in the car in front of us is driving SO slow and doesn’t use his turn signal? How often do we think the worst of a person (cast judgement upon) before we even know them or the whole story? How many of us have said, “Well, she had it coming to her,” when misfortune falls upon a person? Or how about this one, “You’ve gotta look out for number one!” Have you blown up in anger at your kids lately because they were GETTING.ON.YOUR.LAST.NERVE? Are you one of those women that like to bring up past mistakes or sins when you’re hashing it out with your husband? And how about that juicy piece of info you have about your coworker or the woman who sits on the other side of the church on Sundays…You’ve just GOT to tell someone, don’t you? Have you been hurt so badly by another person that you think to yourself and even say aloud sometimes, “I’ll never let anyone hurt me like that again?” Do you tell little “white” lies or exaggerate the truth once in a while (or always)? Have you ever pressured a friend into a situation that they weren’t comfortable with? If any of us answer “yes” to any of these questions, then we have not made the conversion from head knowledge to heart knowledge. Let’s recap what I Corinthians says…
Without love I am nothing. Love suffers long and is kind. Love does not envy, does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil, does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
This is the version we’ve all heard our whole lives. When we read it, our minds say, “Yada yada yada, I’ve heard this a million times.” But listen to this version….
Love does not dishonor others, is not easily angered, always protects, trusts, hopes, perserveres.
And this one…
I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up, cares MORE for others than for self, doesn’t want what it doesn’t have, doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t FORCE itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t REVEL when others GROVEL, takes pleasure in the flowering of TRUTH, puts up with ANYTHING, trusts God ALWAYS, always look for the BEST, NEVER looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love NEVER dies.
Ouch…some of this hurts…I can do better! YOU can do better! Ephesians 5 tells us to walk in love, like Christ loved us. Stop wanting what other people have, stop talking foolishly about people, and stop the crude behavior towards one another. Ephesians 4 says to stop lying, speak the truth! Don’t argue with people, and if you do, don’t let the sun go down on your anger. Let the words that we speak to one another be edifying, imparting grace to the hearer. Put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil-speaking. Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. Basically, treat people how you would want to be treated! *The good ole’ Golden Rule* There’s a better way to live than how we’ve been living!
It’s been on my heart for several weeks now to share something that was presented to me MANY years ago by my previous pastor. He created a “love covenant” based upon I Corinthians 13. It was on my fridge for so many years that the paper is discolored and the ink is faded. I would like to share it with you and I hope that is has the same impact on you that it has on me!
A More Excellent Way
With the help of the Lord Jesus Christ through His Spirit, I commit myself to this love covenant. (I Corinthians 13)
I Will Not’s
I will not allow negative feelings of resentmant, anger and hatred to burn in me toward another person.
I will not display myself before others by bragging.
I will not lift myself above others in any way.
I will not conduct myself in an unacceptable manner.
I will not crave or demand something of someone for myself.
I will not intentionally irritate, exasperate or provoke another person.
I will not think, feel or act in a way that is destructive to others or myself.
I will not take pleasure in the unjust deeds of others or myself.
I will be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others, I will be mild and slow to punish.
I will use kindness with everyone.
I will share the joy of personal excellence in others.
I will protect the affairs of others by not talking about them.
I will commit myself to others and have confidence in them.
I will trust people…even when they fail.
Print this out and hang it where you can see it daily. Allow the love of God to flow from you. My personal desire is for the love of God to literally seep out of every pore of my body, out of every word that leaves my lips, out of my every action and every thought that crosses my mind.
One more thought…
For those of you who have been deeply hurt by others…I know how that feels. It seems easier to shut everyone out, to build walls around your heart than to love again or be loved. It’s risky business to allow people in again. It’s scary and takes courage. But, it’s the desire of God for you to be in relationship with other people…to be loved by someone again…if He wanted us to be alone, He would have created only one person during Creation, not two! And, chances are, if you are not allowing others to love you, you probably are having a hard time allowing God’s love in also. Read this passage written by C.S. Lewis:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries, avoid all entanglements, lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket-safe, dark, motionless, airless-it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakeable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.”
Loving again is worth it, I promise!
Let’s make a commitment to ourselves, to each other and to God to LOVE with everything that is in us!
Here are some of my favorite songs about the love of God. Enjoy and be blessed!