Jump Start # 2294
1 Corinthians 13:4 “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant”
Our verse today launches us into the love section of 1 Corinthians. These words define, describe and illustrate the choice of love that not only does God have towards us but that we ought to have towards one another. Often the setting of these verses is missed and in that, the meaning becomes fuzzy. Give some thought to these words:
First, these words are placed among several chapters about spiritual gifts. The brethren had a question about spiritual gifts and it appears that they were seen as a mark of superiority. Some had gifts and others did not. And, among those who had the spiritual gifts, tongue speaking seemed to be the one prized the most by the Corinthians.
Keeping this in the forefront is important. Although we use this section on love often in weddings, that wasn’t the purpose here. Paul wasn’t writing about spiritual gifts and in the midst of this remembered that he had a weekend wedding coming up and so he scribbled down some sweet words about love and then returned to his main thoughts about spiritual gifts. Not at all. This section on love has everything to do with the spiritual gifts. Paul is using this to suppress the evil thoughts, suspicions, jealousy and talk concerning who had what gifts. If these brethren truly cared about one another, they would accept that God has given the gifts the way He wanted to and help one another rather than point fingers and get ugly, as they were beginning to do.
Second, these words are actions that are directed toward others. Love is not a feeling. Love does something. Love is patience. It’s allowing a person to grow. It’s allowing a person to apologize. It’s allowing a person to learn. Patience is more than waiting, it’s not coming unglued while you wait. There are many times in life that one has to wait. Construction traffic comes to my mind. Waiting in airports. Waiting on people to show up. Waiting in emergency rooms. We wait because there isn’t many other options, other than go home. But merely waiting isn’t the same thing as patience. Patience is what goes on within a person. It takes place on the inside, while we are waiting on the outside. Many wait, but in the process they huff and puff and get worked up, bothered and when it is finally their time, they let others know all about it. That’s not patience, that’s waiting.
Here, love is patient. While some had special gifts and others didn’t, that understanding took some patience. It’s like watching a little one putting on his snow boots. He tugs and grunts and doesn’t want any help. He has to do it himself. When he finally gets them on and stands up, he realizes that he has them on the wrong feet. So, here we go again. Patience. We just smile.
Love is kind. This follow patience spiritually. It’s nearly impossible to be patient and then be unkind. The unkind folks aren’t patient. While patience is on the inside, kindness is on the outside. Kind words. Kind actions. You can see kindness in the expression of someone’s face. Some folks just light up with a big smile when your eyes connect. They are kind. Kind people are a blessing. They spread kindness by doing good deeds.
Next follows a series of three negatives. Love is not jealous, is not bragging and is not arrogant. While love is, love is also not some things. These three negatives were some of the reasons the Corinthians had problems with spiritual gifts. Jealousy leads to bragging. Bragging stands upon the shoulders of arrogance. I’m better than you are, doesn’t help a person out. It certainly isn’t kind. And, it makes others try to out do you. Before long, our spirits are entangled in an ugly mess of which one of us is better than the other. Love doesn’t go there. Kindness won’t allow that. Those are the seeds of division, hatred and name calling.
Third, these words and the ones that followed, were God’s solution to the division about spiritual gifts. Today, we’d sit everyone down and if possible, we’d let everyone have a turn and let everyone pick which gift that they wanted. That’s not how things happened. God granted the gifts as He decided. Getting along back then over gifts isn’t much different than getting along today over someone sitting in my seat. We can be a bit touchy and sensitive about things. We can read things between the lines that are not there, but we think they are. We can assume hidden agendas, false motives and feel that everyone is out to get us. Truth be known, most don’t even think about us. We think of ourselves much more and much greater than others ever do.
Patience with one another remains a virtue that is necessary to get along with one another. Without this, tempers flare and words are spoken that never should. Kindness is needed today. Kindness can smooth over hurt feelings and fill the gaps that sometimes comes from our bumping into each other.
Love is. Great words. Great reminders. Greatly needed. And, these are within your grasp. These are choices that you can make. You can be patient or you can be impatient. You can be kind or you can be unkind. For us, it starts as we leave the house. It finds application at work. It’s all about how we chart the course of this day. Patient and kind, or selfish and indifferent. God’s way or our way?