L. Kathleen Cline
From childhood, we are taught that God is love. While that statement is repeated over and over again, do we as Christ followers fully understand what we are saying?
The great copycat, Satan, mimics everything God does to the point that many times evil is successful at deceiving many. With that said, God gave us one fact that Satan cannot contend with and that is "By this, all men will know that you are My disciples if you have love for another" John 13:35. Why you may ask? Because God is love and Satan is not God! Demonic love comes out narcissistic, cruel, detached, cold and immune to reality. But even the compassion of the wicked is cruel. Proverbs 12:10b
Before we can even begin to attempt to live a godly life, everything pivots on this one fact: God is love and Christ followers must display love in their lives, Period! This is not up for debate or any personal story exceptions. So, the next question in your head must be, what does love look like according to God's character?
For the next few weeks, we will be looking at 1 Corinthians 13 and applying it to our daily lives. The beauty of God is that He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13) and He is faithful to guide His own. Life is messy and evil will always do what evil does. Our mission is to prevail in showing God's love in our experiences and activities.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now, we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.1 Corinthians 13
Love is patient: What can make you lose your patience?
My father used to tell me over and over again, that a person cannot make you lose your temper. To be honest, I used to think my father was crazy for teaching me that line of thought but now, I know my father was right. In life, we have a choice to lose our patience with someone. It is not what a person is doing that makes us snap but instead what makes us snap is how we are accepting the other person's behavior. If you have affection for a person, then your tolerance level is more accepting. If you dislike a person, then everybody put your seat belt on, things are going to get rough.
God teaches us that true love has patience. The word patient means enduring pain, provocation, or annoyance with calmness. Did your insides just turn a little with a "What!?" We need to understand that God is not asking us to excuse bad behavior but instead not pick on each other like an open wound. The golden rule mentioned in Matthew 7:12 is there, so children of God can learn to show mercy to each other for those so-called bad days. That even though someone has a bad day, every-day-of-their-life, that God's children show love instead of displaying those spiritually crippling words of anger.
2 Thessalonians 3:15 tells us to not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother. This means we have to put everyone in the affection category. Hmm, does that mean we are not allowed a dislike category for people?
How is your ability to allow people to grow at their own pace with God? Is your expectation of people reasonable? Is your annoyance with a particular person founded or is your annoyance based on your immediate emotional state? Is your love patient?
If God is our Father, and we consider Him good, how silly is it to vocalize that people should never pray for patience? Once again, if God is a good Father and already knows our faults, shouldn't He by definition be helping His children in a weak area? So, combining both questions, what does our verbalizing "never pray for such and such" say about God to those that do not know God? If words are our witness, what are we declaring to non-believers? What is our actual purpose or intent when we give the advice to another person not to pray in a certain way? What is the result of such statements?
Think about these possible scenarios that non-believers or baby Christian might think when we do vocalize "never pray for patience." Maybe they think:
· God is like a genie and if you are not very careful with your words, He will give you a twisted version of what you ask.
· God is incapable of knowing our hearts, so it is a requirement for us to say every word correctly for God to diagnose and conclude how to answer prayers.
· God is a "got-you" god and is looking for ways to mess you up or toy with you.
· It is possible for a person to pull-one-over on God if information is left out or if a blatant lie is prayed.
· God's will of creating effective godly children is false. God's will is about granting wishes to make certain people happy.
Today, we live in a society that claims it is okay to act badly towards someone that is annoying us. Bizarrely, society is even encouraging false claims of victimization if someone challenges your choices. The result is a group of people refusing to develop a strong character by living out their beliefs versus a group of people name calling and bullying to cause harm and damage. Words are flying everywhere with little development of core values being lived out in society as a whole.
If Christ followers truly believe that the Holy Spirit is the one that gives a new spirit and a new heart’s desire (Ezekiel 36:26) and if we believe that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to help us discern the will of God (Hebrews 4:12), then why are we engaging life without involving the Holy Spirit?
One of the hardest things I had to learn while teaching rescued ladies, is watching God work in their lives and allow the ladies to freely choose poorly. My flesh wanted to intervene, while my spirit was instructed to intercede.
Love is patient means that I, as a Christ follower must prayerfully strive with my sister or brother, with patience as God works out His will in their lives, without interference on my part.
If you don’t think that last sentence will take you on a deeper walk with God, then you have never fought vigorously in prayer, while a stronghold or crippling issue consumed someone you love. It is easy to walk away and claim someone as an enemy. It is easy to claim tough love and harden your heart. It is easy to dump the problem on someone else. It is knee bending, when you are crying and pleading to God on someone’s behalf because they are frozen in a situation without hope.
As I said above, demonic love comes out narcissistic, cruel, detached, cold and immune to reality. Today is the day for all of us to stop displaying love in this manner. Ask God how to specifically deploy loving patience in your life. Wisdom comes from God. This blog is only beneficial if you ask God how to apply it to your life.