Read His Words Before Ours!
Love is hard, friends. It is so incredibly hard sometimes.
Some days (most days) I think what is perhaps the most important line was left out of 1 Corinthians 13. You know the passage I’m talking about (and if you mouse over that link, you can read over them again for yourself.) Those lines list out God’s painfully clear description of love. I usually refer to them as the “love is” verses. We’ve all heard or read them dozens, maybe hundreds of times, so I’ll spare us the replay…except to say that I’m pretty sure He left out what is (in my opinion) the most crucial aspect of the whole deal: It’s not easy.
It is one of (if not the) most challenging tasks we are given as believers. Even if we set aside our own personal expectations and baggage from prior experience or lack thereof, we are inundated with humanity’s tainted view of what love is and should look like.
Our world paints love to be this wild, unbridled, amorphous thing.
Something that pulses and changes with the tides.
Something unpredictable and decided by mere chance.
Something over which we have no control.
Something which often controls us and our emotions, words and actions.
Thankfully, God responds to those misperceptions with Truth by saying:
No. Love is more. I am more.
I give you control.
And patience. Kindness and contentment.
Humility, gentleness, forgiveness, hope and more.
This is what love is.
He doesn’t stop there. We learn in Galatians 6 that we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ by coming alongside those who are caught in sin and helping them back to the right path.
Without pride. Without judgement. Without that silent little bubble of self-righteousness that whispers in the back of our mind, “I’m so glad God placed me in this position to help them,” while simultaneously thinking “I will never allow myself to get in this situation.” Without encouraging a victim mentality in our friend, rather than gently and humbly steering them back to Truth. Without silently grumbling about the inconvenience we experience at sacrificing our time or schedule.
Ouch. Hurts, doesn’t it?
Paul goes on to say that we must be careful that we don’t make the same mistake ourselves. He implores us to share in their burdens. This is where we tend to get a little fuzzy on the details.
We might feel that by listening to others share what they are going through in their lives, we are fulfilling this directive. Maybe we feel that by knowing about our sister’s burden, sin or struggle, we’re good. Check the box.
Except…is that really what it means to share someone’s burden? Or are we meant for more?
What if instead of merely listening to our sister as she pours out her need and her not enough, we kneel with her, right there in the dirt, grasp her hand and cry through it, together?
What if instead of pushing aside the memory of a quiet addiction admitted in a hard moment, we gently and humbly hold our sister accountable and walk with her in her journey to clean?
What if instead of pitying her marital trouble, we stopped by with a pizza, a flower and a gift card, cared for her children and sent her on a date with her husband?
What if instead of sweeping those precious, discarded raw moments under the rug and pretending they were nothing, we polish them in private, praying over, around and through them until we SEE the realization of His redemption in those dark places?
What if this is love?
Never one to mince words, Paul is succinct. “If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” (Galatians 6:3 NLT) While his words may be painful to hear, he is not wrong. How quickly do we “check the box” when we are helping a sister in trouble? How quickly are we measuring her trouble against our own? And how quickly are we determining that her trouble is either bigger or lesser than ours? When we allow our eyes to veer left or right, we forget that we will only be held accountable for our own selves. Paul is clear in this: We will reap what we sow. When we sow into comparison, we are sowing into the flesh and nothing spiritual will be reaped from that “work.”
Love is hard, friends. It is the dirty work. But it is the good work.
Living love is forsaking the flesh and sowing into the spiritual realm. There is nothing easy about looking the dark and hard things in the face, seeing the broken pieces of those close to us and carrying part of a burden. But it is our work.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!