I have attended a lot of wedding services lately because of the nature of my job. I have to say that one of the most popular Scripture selections is 1 Corinthians 13.
Fair enough-- it IS the love chapter.
But sometimes hearing it again and again can be dangerous, because an attitude of "heard it, know what it means," develops and soon it's so easily tuned out.
A few years back, I dissected this chapter because it caught my attention for some reason. My thought was, God is love. So if God is love, then 1 Corinthians 13 lists characteristics of His personality.
As a lover of personality types, this was an exciting realization.
Forgive me for using "The Message" as a translation, but there's something about it that simplifies everything so well for me. Following are the characteristics of love:
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love 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 looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
To me, this sounds like a tall order. I find it a challenge to accomplish just one of these phrases, let alone the whole list. And sometimes, situations in life seem to call for it all in one shot. An overall "loving" attitude is not in our human nature. Today, I was just listening about how we naturally want to compete, hate, and feed the flesh... not love.
Anyway, the list is a good one to go over and review, even daily, and keep in check with how life is being lived.
I was studying this chapter recently, and a couple of other things popped out at me...
Verse 12. It talks about not being able to see things clearly. We don't have the whole picture. I tend to be a curious person. I could ask questions all day long if I knew someone was willing to answer me. I love to learn, especially about people and circumstances, and I often want to know "Why?"
Again and again, I hear the Truth from God's Word telling me that in and through the good times and the bad, we won't always know why. The better question we can ask God is, "Lord, what do you want me to learn? How can I glorify You?"
Because I have to face it: Is knowing "why" going to change the way something turns out? Is knowing "when" going to change how God orchestrates something? If anything, NOT knowing does one thing: It causes us to trust God more. It points back to Christ, and makes us realize our deep need for Him, our inability without Him, and the way in which we must have Faith in Him.
There is a lot that goes on that we don't understand. In fact, almost everyday my mind is plagued with "why, how, and when" questions. The more I learn about God, the more I see just how very VAST He is and how I just don't understand. But I always come back to the same conclusion: God must be glorified.
In the words of verse 12: "We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!"
Could it be that there's so much that we don't understand, so much we don't know, so much we can't look ahead and see, because God just wants us to trust in Him?
You see, it points our focus back to where it should be. I'm not in charge, and no one else is, either. My track record plainly shows that whenever I have tried to take over, most of the time the scenario crashes and burns. Life, and living it, is best left in the hands of the Master.
My other realization with this chapter is at the very end, which wasn't so much a realization as it was a powerful reminder... "that the greatest of these three is love." That's serious. It doesn't matter what we do in life, if we aren't doing it in love... it's worthless.
So as I look over that list of characteristics again, I feel a bit overwhelmed. Yet I know that I can obtain the grace and power to be loving in that supernatural way only through God.
Love you all!