Have you ever read a verse a thousand times, and know it so well that you can quote it by heart without even trying? There are verses in the Bible that we memorized as kids and now as adults they are so familiar we almost sing through them. We love these verses so much but if we are not careful we start to think of them as verses we have somehow outgrown.
If you have been a Christian long you know how quickly these verses can become relevant once again during certain seasons of change in our lives. Of course they always were relevant but the new life circumstance helps them to stand out like hidden gems that once were so precious to us.
This pandemic that is currently spreading a dark cloud over our country is creating a season of change for most of us. It is also providentially creating a darker environment for some of these gems to shine brighter than ever before. One of these familiar gems is 1 Corinthians chapter 13:4-7. This chapter is also known as the love chapter.
Just a few weeks ago we might have lazily read through the all too familiar exhortations to be patient and kind. This week we are sheltering in place with our families that may include several children home from school. This week we may be home schooling those kids. This week we are not able to meet with our churches and our life groups. This week we can’t go get coffee with our best friend. Life was challenging before but now there are a whole new set of challenges we didn’t anticipate having to face.
If it’s been a while since you have read it, take a look at 1 Corinthians chapter 13:4-7 with this new perspective.
4. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5. does not behave rudely, does not seek it’s own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6. does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth;7. bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
As we are seeking to love those around us during this time; these verses can shed some light on how we are doing and give us some goals to work on as well. Take a look at these brief explanations of these verses.
Love suffers long
This means love is patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others. If someone says or does something that is hurtful to us, instead of responding out of that hurt we bear it patiently and consider the godly response. We also bear the offense without becoming bitter or resentful. Instead our desire is to see the offender restored to Christ.
Love is kind
Being kind to those around us looks like having a mild and soft response. 1 Peter 3:4 says that we are beautiful if we have a gentle and quiet spirit. Kindness also means that we are seeking out good things to do. Throughout the day we are thinking of ways that we can be a blessing to those around us.
Love does not envy
If we are being loving we will wish good things for others so much that there will be no room for envy. We won’t be grieved in our spirit if someone is better looking, has a better house or car, has a Pinterest worthy kitchen, or children who are godly and well behaved. On the contrary, we will rejoice with them as if we possessed these good gifts right along with them.
Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up
The encouragement here is not to make a big deal out of ourselves. When we interact with others we are quarantined with, from the youngest to the oldest, we should consider them more important than ourselves. Love looks like our responses will not be rude, arrogant, or disrespectful but instead will take the time to consider the other person.
Love does not behave rudely
It does nothing that is unfitting or inappropriate. Choosing to love means we are content with others around us, how God made them, and where they are at in the sanctification process. It’s not our goal every day to try and change them or their roles in our lives. As Christ strengthens us we can be content no matter what is happening around us and not behave in a rude way to the people we are called to love.
Love does not seek its own
It’s so very easy to fall into a complacent attitude of selfishness. Seeking others best interest first takes purpose and determination on our part. It’s not that we should let people sin against us and walk all over us, but love does not try to get its own way when it will hurt or neglect others. In fact often it means stepping aside and letting others get their way. It often means sacrificing something that we want so that someone we love will receive the blessing instead.
Love is not provoked, thinks no evil
Being loving means that we will not be unjustly angry with others. We won’t provoke the situation and make it worse with an angry response. If our kids, our husband, our boss or a friend isn’t behaving how we wish they would, we won’t add fuel to the fire. When we love the people around us there will be no room for anger in our heart towards them. If we control our thoughts about them we will not be thinking evil but instead things that are true, noble, just, pure and lovely (Philippians 4).
Love does not rejoice in iniquity but rejoices in the truth
Love never has an “I told you so” attitude. Christians should never find any happiness or gloating in someone’s sin struggle. It grieves Christ when they fall into temptation and it should grieve us as well. When we see someone we love sin, even if it’s against us, our sole desire should be to see them restored to Christ again. On the other hand, we will rejoice in the spiritual successes of our brothers and sisters in Christ as if they were our own.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
If there are ninety nine ways to interpret something that is said or done by a loved one in a bad way and only one hope of a good interpretation, let’s start with the good. We should be hoping and believing the best of those around us. Instead of making up and assigning a motivation to them we should hope for the best as we ask questions to better understand what took place. We might find out in the end that their behavior was wrong, but we should be reluctant to believe it until it is proven without a doubt. We would want and appreciate that same level of grace from others.
As we are in close quarters in stressful times, these verses are like hidden gems shining brightly to point us towards Christ-like love. Maybe you have been struggling to get along with difficult people in your life, or the stress of all that is going on in the world is getting to you. Take the time each day to read through these hope filled and encouraging verses. They are encouraging because they give us the answer to know how to respond to the people around us right now. We might not always be able to please others but we can know that God will be honored and pleased if we are seeking to love others with this kind of love.
Sources used for the explanation of the verses: Strongs Concordance and Matthew Henry Commentary