Love Part 3: Tread Softly

by Michael

In part 1 I talked about the first characteristics of love: patience and kindness. In part 2 I made some observations about love’s selflessness and the fact that it isn’t rude. This segment finishes off my commentary on the specific qualities described in 1 Cor. 13.

it is not irritable or resentful;

I tend to get irritable if I don’t eat breakfast–what does that say about my ability to love? Not too much, but it should give an idea of how hard it is not to be irritable. When our lives lead us to situations that upset us, we need to find a way not to be irritable, or at the least to act out of anger and resentment towards another for the sake of love. Strange as it may seem, eating right and living healthy helps you love other people for the fact that your body is less stressed out and therefore less prone to react disproportionately to the situation. Beyond that, love does demand a certain amount of will power to keep our urges to get upset at bay. I’m not saying to suppress your feelings, but what I am saying is not to let your emotions go unchecked–keep them under control. Discuss your feelings calmly with someone you can trust. Don’t blow up in the heat of the moment.

it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.

Have you ever said, “You remember the time you bought me plumber’s tape for my birthday” or “What about that time you didn’t clean your room/pay that bill/apologize” or something like it? Sometimes we get excited when someone we love does something wrong because it makes us feel better about the time that we did the same thing. The unfortunate reality is that sometimes, probably at all times, we may all have been wrong. Even if it’s situations where there isn’t a prior offense that we are seeking to justify we should still refrain from being happy when we or the other person does something wrong, for any reason.

The clause, “…but rejoices with the truth,” has to do with recognition of the wrongdoing and being forgiving. Sometimes we lie, sometimes we make mistakes. In those situations, we are responsible to recognize the errors we have made and to ask for forgiveness. When the other person has come to us, acknowledged their error, then we should be glad, and should encourage them and forgive them (notice that I didn’t include that will apologize–sometimes they don’t and we should still forgive them). Another way to understand this clause may be to look beyond the offense entirely and to see the bigger picture. Yes, the person may have screwed up, but in the end, how much does that matter? It shouldn’t. Let go of other people’s mistakes. Celebrate the good things about them, and if there ain’t much good, then go back to all the earlier stuff about being patient, kind, and un-agitated.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love does not give up. No matter how difficult or insurmountable, we should never stop loving. Further, we should always celebrate and enjoy the good things about life. We see and believe in the capacity and ability of others. We try to see the possibility for prosperity, success, health and goodness in and for them. Consequently, we do what we can to help them become those things.