4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant
5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Okay, so we all know this verse well because we’ve all been to a wedding, but do we ever spend more than the few fleeting moments we are sitting behind the bride and the groom to truly meditate on the verse and apply it to our lives?
We all love imperfectly because we all try to love others in our own power. We need to continually hold up God’s definition of love against what to world teaches us to find and fight the discrepancies. And when we do, we need to think about how we love others - not how others love us. Far too often, we hear this list and immediately start thinking about how others in our lives have failed us. We’re not meant to apply scripture to other people’s lives, we’re meant to apply it to our own.
We are all guilty of hearing criticism where love is intended, or of giving criticism where we want to love. I get caught in this trap all the time. I could walk around with this verse in front of me all day, and I'd still do it. But I am growing in my ability to love as He loves, and I'm learning to catch myself quicker.
Changing my thinking about people was the first step - I intentionally try think the best of others, and I’m learning to receive well. Assume positive intent. We are so naturally critical as humans that we tend to think others are being critical of us in what they say. I try hard not to assume the worst when I am receiving someone’s words. Its easy to jump to the conclusion that someone’s intention in their words is to be hurtful, but my experiences have taught me that far too often, people don’t even recognize the hurt their words cause because they’re so wrapped up in their own thoughts and feelings.
In short, I stopped being so sensitive. I assume people have other things going on in their heads than just me and my feelings, I assume they have different agendas and trials they're dealing with in their lives rather than me. And I allow them to be who they are - a broken sinner like me working through life the best they can. That includes my husbands, my friends, my children.
I also work hard to see the good in everything - that takes effort and retraining of the brain. My mind is so well trained to immediately see problems, judge others, criticize situations. I am a problem solver, so I see problems - everywhere. I have to intentionally take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. When we look for good, we see things we could not see before. But it takes effort and work on my part to be intentional about seeing the good in others, and it takes spending daily time in His Word allowing Him to fill me with His Spirit.
Finally, I work to create an environment of love, even when those around me seem to want to create the complete opposite. I used to get angry and be confrontational when I felt I was working on being loving, but others around me were not applying the same truths to their lives. I used to be the martyr, complaining that I'm over here being awesome, and certain people around me were just being mean. But the focus of those thoughts are on me, and not on what this verse calls us to do - not be irritable, not be resentful, but to bear all things, believe all things, endure all things. I've found that I need to be the love in my life that I so desperately crave, and not expect others to be it for me. And when I have chosen to allow the Spirit to move in me in a way that demonstrates His love where it is most difficult, I have been blown away at the incredible blessings He has given to me.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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