This is part two of my study of 1 Corinthians 13 in an effort to better understand love and improve at loving others. Part one tackled the first three verses of the chapter. This one gets into the nitty gritty of what love looks like in verses four through seven. Boy does it sting to compare myself to perfect love. Thank God for grace!
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
I have heard several times to insert my own name into this section to see if I am really loving well. Is the following statement true: Megan is patient, Megan is kind. Megan does not envy, Megan does not boast, Megan is not proud? Definitely not.
I have not always been good about patience, especially when I have prized efficiency over grace. I am learning what inspires impatience and have tried to set up circumstances to allow patience to prevail (like adding extra time to getting ready to leave the house so I don’t end up snapping at my kids to get in the car).
My kindness is tested when I feel slighted. My first inclination is to seek revenge rather than offer love and seek understanding. Often people don’t intentionally do things to hurt or offend me. If I can give them the benefit of the doubt, I can come from a place of love.
My envying is a result of not believing that God will provide all that I need. I want what someone else has rather than focusing on what I have been given. It’s comparing and I wasn’t created to live the same life as anyone else.
I probably am boastful when I am feeling insecure. I need an ego boost and think it will come from proclaiming my wins to someone else. I mistakenly believe I need to feel superior to others to have worth or value.
I cannot pretend to believe that I don’t suffer from pride. I have proudly worn the title of Ms. Independent and Self-Sufficient. I struggle with believing that having it all together and being perfect is achievable and desirable. However, I don’t know anyone who thinks perfect people make great friends and confidants. Anyone seen as perfect makes you feel like you have to pretend to be close to perfect too. You can’t be your real self. And when I pretend to not need people, it just sets me on a path toward loneliness, one I’ve been on too many times. I am well aware of the pitfalls of pride, and yet I often forget and fall into them again.
5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
I have been guilty of cutting others down, both in my head and out loud. I do it to try to feel better but it doesn’t really work. I usually feel terrible for being unkind toward others. Thankfully, I have loving people who will call me out on this bad habit.
I am increasingly aware of my tendency to look out for numero uno. I worry that putting others’ needs first means that there will be nothing left over for me. This scarcity mentality indicates that I do not trust God to provide for my needs. Internally I think, “If I don’t care for my needs, no one will.” It’s not the truth but it’s how I often live.
I don’t believe that I struggle a lot with anger. I could be fooling myself. I think being easily angered is similar to feeling insulted, slighted, or disrespected. Those seem to be the times I’m likely to get angry. But maybe I don’t interact enough with others for this to happen. I do acknowledge that I tend to comment on other drivers while I’m in a car, which probably isn’t the best practice, especially in front of my children.
Keeping no record of wrongs is one I have actively worked on. I have been known to act passively-aggressively when I felt wronged by someone else. I hate conflict and so I’d rather not discuss my hurt feelings and hope they figure it out by my moody behavior. However, becoming aware of this behavior, I have worked to be better at naming my hurt and then moving on, not letting it continue to hang over the relationship. I’m not perfect at this, but I think progress has been made.
6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
Love doesn’t enjoy seeing others hurt or injustice prevail. It doesn’t like deeds done in darkness. It doesn’t indulge in others’ hurts, setbacks or failures. It doesn’t believe in karma. There are definitely times I have been a little gleeful when someone’s bad behavior dealt consequences. It’s mainly because for a long time I tried to be perfect and keep the law. I was a goody two shoes and didn’t like seeing others appear to have more fun and not appear to receive any repercussions. I wasn’t able to see the sin in my own life and the grace I was in need of just as much as the “bad guys.” That has changed, thankfully, as I’ve gotten older and grown in life experiences.
Love is excited that grace is freely available to all, that every person is deeply loved and delighted in by God. Forgiveness and new life are available to all. Praise God! That should be my focus and aim – sharing the truth of all we have received from God.
7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love protects. It looks out for others. It seeks good and not harm. It is on your side. It is dependable. I am a loyal person so, often, if we are good friends I am looking out for your welfare. Likewise, I’m a fairly trusting (sometimes gullible) and trustworthy person. I believe what you say until I learn I have been lied to.
Love hopes. It believes positively that good is coming or can come in any situation. It prays in hope and faith that God will hear and respond. It does not see any situation or person as hopeless or irredeemable. It knows that all things are possible with God. Because of this belief, it perseveres – in prayer, in pursuing deeper relationships, in service, in personal growth. It trusts that it is possible to make an impact in local and world injustices. It believes that becoming more loving and less selfish is possible with God’s work. It chooses not to give up.
Stay tuned for part three next week!
How does your love compare to the kind of love spelled out in this section of scripture? Do you also see areas for improvement? Which part or parts do you excel in loving others?