Michael McKendricks – writer, theologian, web developer and waffle, bacon and all round food enthusiast

Love Part 3: Tread Softly

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.

Love Part 2: To Love is to Lose, but not to FAIL!

In part 1 I talked about the first characteristics of love: patience and kindness. I now want to move on and look at two more qualities

it is not arrogant or rude.

The difficult piece for people to swallow here is not being rude. I think everyone is familiar with just how rude our friends and family can be. However, we often feel justified in our rudeness, and think that other people deserve it. In reality, it doesn’t matter. Despite how loathsome and ignorant someone is; if you love them, do not be rude to them. (This may be asking for trouble, but) if you call yourself a Christian, and know you are to love everyone that means you are also expected not to be rude to anyone for any reason. I’ll wait for you to stop cursing before I continue…

Love does not put itself above others and it does not put itself before others. In saying that love is not arrogant, we are declaring that we will not hold ourselves to be superior. This can mean that we do not feel that we are the stronger person in a relationship, that we don’t need them, they need us. It also means that we do not believe our thoughts actions and beliefs to be better than someone else’s. We could even go so far as to say love means humility–it means looking the fool, accepting defeat and yielding to someone else (even when they’re being stupid).

It does not insist on its own way;

A hard thing about being in a relationship is that even if only sometimes, we feel neglected or we have something we are interested in that the other is not. This is complicated by the fact that the wants and/or needs of the other person may be contradictory to our way. In all situations, we are not to insist on our own way. The emphasis on insist is key, because we should not feel that we should never deserve to get our way or that we must always do everything the other person wants. This passage is simply expressing that we do not force people to serve us, to do what we want or to do something our way. However, we can ask and sometimes, people want to oblige us. In those cases, there is no harm. As it so happens, we might extrapolate from this passage that when we are faced with circumstances where another person is asking something of us, that we should make a reasonable effort to oblige them. It might be that we can say no (I’m not sure on this one yet).

So, love is patient, kind, humble, and selfless. It is not easy to live like this. If you’re still with me, great! But don’t get too excited, because we still have three more assertions to go–and none of them include satisfaction, happiness or me-time.