A couple years ago our church spent several months studying 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. I knew the passage fairly well because it had been important to me for a long time. It was the Scripture reading that my wife and I selected for our wedding ceremony over twenty years earlier. However, working through 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 with a fine tooth comb I realized something.
I questioned whether there was anyone in my life I had ever loved!
I could think of many times when I had not been very patient – even with those who meant the most to me. I could remember instances where kindness would not have been a proper description of my attitude or actions. I could even think of things that I wish I could do as well as my wife or one of my children. Somehow I had allowed my heart to be jealous.
Mind you, if you lived in my house you would not have seen continual examples of these things nor would you have come to the conclusion that I was just one big ME monster. But God’s truth was hitting home. I could be patient … sometimes … I could be kind … sometimes … I could rejoice over the talents of others … sometimes. But there were those other times when my heart was from that place.
During this series I had the privilege to speak about love not bragging or being arrogant. I was sure this message would not be convicting. Yet, it was. I realized that I tried to tell stories that were better than the stories others had to tell. I realized that I wanted the other person to finish to give me time to speak.
This series was really getting annoying. The longer it went the harder it was to listen to (or to preach!).
Somewhere along the line, however, I realized that in the midst of this section of Scripture that even love was a gift from the Lord. Instead of focusing so much on the really amazing gifts, maybe I needed to focus on the everyday, Christianity 101, love.
I am totally dependent on the Lord to make me aware of the times I am fail to be patient, fail to be kind, or look to draw attention to myself. I cannot obey this passage in my own strength. I need the Lord’s help to do what he commands me to do.
The fact is, your counselees struggle, too. We would all be helped if we learned that true love is only going to come from the Source of true love – the One who died for us.
Maybe it would be wise for you to consider how a discussion of love – love for God and love for others – will only occur if we want to draw near to our savior.
Think of it this way … If my love is only 60% pure and I seek to fill the tank of my spouse or child with love of this quality, and she then draws from that same love in order to love me it will not be long before our love is heavily diluted with our own selfishness. But when my love comes from the perfect love of my savior and her love for me is drawn from the perfect love of her savior, then and only then will we show genuine love to one another.
Steps for application:
- Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 slowly and carefully.
- Repent of your own failures to love in your strength.
- Ask the Lord to strengthen you with his love.
- Communicate to your counselees that they will only love one another if they recognize Christ’s love and then ask for his help to genuinely love others.