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. (I Corinthians 13:4-7, ESV)
I’ve been working on memorizing these verses, so they’ve been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks. I confess that this is one of those passages that is so often quoted that it had kind of lost its power for me until I re-read it in the English Standard Version and got to the part about love not being “irritable or resentful”. I have a problem with being irritable – often with my kids, or if it is early in the morning, or if I lost sleep the night before, or if it’s a day that ends in ‘y’…
Love is incredibly important for us as Christians. By our love for one another, people should be able to tell that we are followers of Christ (John 13:34-35). He gave us the ultimate example of love that was not just a warm and fuzzy feeling but lived out every day, even unto death.
That kind of love requires a death to self that does not come naturally, and for that reason I think the passage in 1 Corinthians one of the most challenging passages there is.
Oh, except for the part about “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:43). It’s hard enough to love my friends and family.
Love and forgiveness are inextricable entwined. Love is not resentful, which means it has made a decision to let things go and forgive. I think it helps to assume that most of my friends and family don’t sin against me or hurt me on purpose, to assume that they have good intentions but didn’t think everything through.
But even if they don’t, even if they undeniably did something to hurt me on purpose, I’m not off the hook for forgiving them. God doesn’t only ask easy things of us, but in asking us to forgive, neither is he asking something from us that He has not done, and is not willing to do, for us.
Since all of this has been going through my mind lately, I was particularly drawn to Kathy Pollard’s Bible marking topic on forgiveness. I think it’s a good review even if you aren’t struggling with forgiving anyone particularly at the moment, because it will be an issue sooner or later. Being a part of a family or a church guarantees that we’re going to need to forgive and be forgiven with regularity.