Summary: Love is an uncommon force that copes with suffering. By enduring the pain, sorrow and anger we are exhibiting God’s unconditional love. People who are mature in love endure the pain of selfish, critical and immature scoffers.
How Great is Your Love - I Cor. 13:4-7
Illustration: One evening while appearing on CNN’s Larry King Live, Jack Kemp, the honorable congressman from New York, made an insightful comment about the religious right when he said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” A book about how to overcome fears of and anger for the reactionary religious right, would be incomplete without a description of Paul’s teachings on love in I Corinthians 13.
Illustration: Perfect love is able to cast away fear, anger or anything hindering communications. One day when the author was waiting in a hospital, the Lord taught me to overcome misunderstandings of His will through a little Nigerian boy named Nuhu.
As I sat waiting for a blood test in a hospital in Nigeria, I noticed a small little boy sitting next to me. I asked him “What is your name?” He said in a muffled tone, “Nuhu.” I could see that the little fellow was very afraid of having his blood taken for the first time. When the nurse appeared in her white uniform, something strange happened to Nuhu. He turned and look at me with trembling lips shook his head and said, “Waiyo” – which in the Hausa language means ‘I am a goner! There is no hope for me. I will probably end up dead in a few short minutes. Even God cannot save me now!’
As I sat there watching little Nuhu walk into the lab with the nurse holding his hand I thought, that is the way most people view their relationship with God. When the Lord calls them through adversity, sickness or some set-back, they immediately think, “Oh No! What have I done to deserve this? God is really going to punish me now.”
Many people seem to fear God in an unhealthy way. Perhaps, they really do not know that God allows things to come into our lives for their best interests. When people really know the Lord, they understand that He allows hardships for their good so that He can give the treatment we need. He wants us to become more like Jesus. His ways are higher than our ways and His thought are higher than our thoughts. He works in ways we cannot see. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “I know the plans that I have for you. Plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a great future and hope!” God does not delight when we are trembling in our boots at the thought of having to approach Him. Instead, He wants us to reverently respect Him, love Him and follow Him as our caring Shepherd. He knows how to lead us through any wilderness experience. Only love helps us overcome the enemy within our own sinful nature.
From the following list, try to note the comparisons and contrasts of love that apply to your relationships
WHAT LOVE IS versus WHAT LOVE IS NOT
1. Love is Long Suffering – Love is an uncommon force that copes with suffering. By enduring the pain, sorrow and anger we are exhibiting God’s unconditional love. People who are mature in love endure the pain of selfish, critical and immature scoffers.
1. Love is not in a Hurry - Love’s long suffering or patience does not accept evil or adopt an attitude of resignation that becomes fatalistic. Love is not blind to abuse, sin, or ignorance, but knows how to speak the truth with a love that accomplishes God’s purposes. Love does not naively accept suffering without finding out the lessons that God wants us to learn through our adversity. Love is not judgmental in rushing to criticize someone based upon your own set of assumptions and expectations.
2. Love is Kind – Love is considerate, benevolent, and gentle to people. Love is kind even to the unkind. Kindness freely accepts another and seeks their good regardless of what one can get in return. Kindness even dares to be weak by identifying with people in their pain, problems and weaknesses. Kindness looks for a way to enhance, heal, and help people regardless of who they are. Kindness is not gushy, but is intelligent and tough when necessary. Kindness works with wisdom in a structure of justice and fairness according to the given realities. Kindness encourages the faint hearted, helps the weak, and is patient with everyone. Kindness looks for a way of being constructive in every situation. Kindness is gentle even to those who are harsh and unsympathetic. Kindness knows how to speak in healing voice tones.
2. Love is not Mean or Apathetic - Love’s kindness is not weakness in the face of overwhelming difficulties. It does not give in when pressured. This kindness is not naïve or gullible accepting whatever anyone says. Kindness does not take the attitude that one must be kind just to maintain relationships. Love’s kindness does not sacrifice essential ethical principles. Kindness is not sentimentality that only with one’s emotions. Kindness is not ashamed to weep with those who weep or rejoice with those who rejoice. Kindness is not content with those who say, “Let’s avoid any kind of controversy and go along for the sake of harmony. Kindness is not selfish with a motive that expects favors in return. Kindness is not unwilling to dish out tough discipline if it is the best way to bring about healing and maturity. Kindness does condemn others because of one’s own moral code.