Saturday, October 8, 2011

Love Beyond the Norms

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7

I was really finding it hard to move on from a heartache made by a criticism. I was quite sad and lonely for the person who made it was someone whom I consider as a friend. In one of my quiet time recently, God reminded me this passage. I know that most of us know this verse very well that sometimes it becomes a cliché whenever we talk about it. Erasing all of the things that we have on our minds, have you ever wondered what Apostle Paul was really trying to say when he wrote this letter to the people of Corinth? Was he just trying to elaborate what real love is all about?  Was he mandating us to love just like how he instructed it?

Let us take a look in this passage in a deeper meaning. My prayer is that as you read this blog post, God will instill in your heart the real meaning of Agape, the unconditional love. And that you are not going to look at this post as one of “those entries” about love that is trying to delude your own perception and understanding of it. Just like you, I am a sinner and I have nothing to brag of except the fact that the Maker of the stars would rather die for you and than live without you.

“Love is Patient.”  - In the English language, patience has a weak meaning due to its common usage. If we are going to look up the original Greek that Paul used in writing, we can find the true meaning of the passage behind the word Makrothumeo which literally means “to not lose heart” or “to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others.” This is closely connected with Jesus’ teachings about persecution (Luke 6:28, Matthew 5:11 and 39). The love that God gives to us is not just a gift to be shared, but a strengthening comfort for believers in Christ.

“Love is kind.”  - This is another word that has lost its full meaning in the English language. In Greek, it speaks a message of power. Chresteuomai implies the action of kindness, not a feeling or a communication of sympathy. Christ’s love manifests itself in deed. (1 John 4:9-10)

The next three characteristics of love are closely knit: “It does not envy, It does not boast. It is not proud…” When a person experiences the agape love of God, he or she neither covet what others have nor does brag about what he or she has been provided with by our Lord. To have love means to be contented. The word for “proud” in this passage literally means “puffed up.” Pride is much the same as a puffer fish that releases certain gases in order to inflate its body as a defense mechanism, although it is not often used to threaten enemies, but to attract the attention of others. God’s love working in us is not proud.

Likewise, the following three are interrelated: “It is not rude, It is not self seeking. It is not easily angered…” The original Greek for “rude” actually refers to acting “unbecoming” or “indecent.” What Paul has done was to list an appropriate opposite of kindness. It is where kindness was listed as a manifestation of the Christ’s love for us. This rudeness is an action that is not made apparent by it. Self-seeking is also a similar term because it is directly opposed to the contentment that we have previously examined. The Greek phrase translates it as to “demand its own way.” Love does not impose itself on others. It does not allow itself to be established by responding in anger.

“Love… keeps no record of wrongs.” The best example of this comes from our Savior Himself. The Gospel of Matthew, in the 18th chapter verses 21-22 tells us, that Peter asked Jesus if how many times he will forgive his brother when he sins against him. Is it up to seven times? Jesus answered that we should forgive seventy times seven. What does Jesus say? Forgive him “Seventy-seven times.” In Jewish culture, the number seven is very significant, for a variety of reasons and one of which is that it represents completeness or fulfillment. What Jesus meant by saying seventy-seven is basically our equivalent of infinity! Agape love requires us to “forgive and forget.”

The next two characteristics tell us something of the nature of love that is quite apart from our actions and thoughts: “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth.” These two are quite unique because they betray the core value of agape, the unconditional love: it has no part in evil and is bound inseparably with the Truth. Indeed, the Bible tells us that “God is love.” Jesus also made the statement in John 14:6, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Not only does love rejoices in truth, but love is truth.

The final four are in line with faith. “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”  In Christ, love protects our faith, provides a trust in the Living God, keeps that spiritual fire burning, and gives us the ability to “fight the good fight of faith.”

I Agape You!

*this blogpost was inspired and contains excerpt from by David Ketter’s Article, Devotional: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

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