Love and Relationships

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 (I Cor13:4-7).

From the “Love Chapter,” this is a very familiar verse to most people who have attended a wedding. Unfortunately, it is usually rattled off with little attention to the meaning of each phrase. Each part is a gem of wisdom, and if we made a determined effort to apply even just one, our relationships would thrive.

One that I especially need to work on is it keeps no record of wrongs. Sometimes I find myself even years later holding ill-feelings toward someone who I felt treated me unfairly. When that happens, we have choices on how to react (after all, to love is a choice). We can attack back—definitely not a relationship builder. We can get even or retaliate on the same level—also not a loving alternative. Or we can rise above and react kindly and respectfully.

If that last choice seems insincere, then we can first try a little exercise in understanding. Maybe their attack had nothing to do with us—we were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe that person was hurting or confused himself. Our attempt toward understanding can also help with the love is patient, kind and not easily angered phrases too.

I guess second to only Satan, I’m my own worst enemy thinking it’s all about ME. Reflecting on God’s word sure aids in clearing our vision and helps us to take our eyes off ourselves and onto God and others.

Wasted Time

Then I will restore (make-up) to you the years that the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25).

I love interpreting this verse metaphorically in order to apply it to my own life.

We have all had periods in our lives where we have wasted days, even years on being angry, or timid, or sulky, or fearful, or whiney, or even mentally checking-out. Later we regret those times especially if there is a person involved who is no longer with us.

In many instances a do-over is not possible, but God is able and can somehow compensate. He is so gracious to those who put their faith in Him, and with Him nothing is impossible. After all, it is not God that invades our peace, but it is He who can lead us to still waters and can more than satisfy the ache in our soul.

God is God

I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6).

A devotional by Oswald Chambers had this phrase, “As sure as God is God and you are you…” It got me thinking about the vast chasm between God and my human nature—His pure heart, my selfish heart; His foresight, my myopic vision; His unconditional love, my fickle emotions.

Quite often, the way He answers prayer is different than the way I would (we can all be glad about that). The more I pray for someone who needs to change, even if it’s legitimate, the more the Holy Spirit spotlights areas in my life that need to change.

Anyway, I’m glad that God is God and that He is still working on me.

Judge Not

When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things (Rom 2:1 NLT).

 It is said that when we point a finger criticizing someone, three are pointing back at us. This is a hard pill to swallow and often I excuse myself saying, “But I’m not selfish, prideful, ungrateful, vindictive, dishonest….”

Well, I might not act on those things, and even if I would never outwardly express them, my heart may be harboring things that I would never, ever want to admit to.

Thank you, Father, that every ounce of wickedness in my heart, past, present, and future, has been atoned by the cross.

Comfort Him?

If anyone has caused grief…you ought to forgive and comfort him so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow (2 Cor 2:5a and 7) .

I would think that we have all been wounded at some time by another individual. It may be by an acquaintance, or a beloved family member, or even a spouse. Sometimes the wound is nothing more than an annoyance; sometimes it is life-affecting abuse.

Scripture tells us to forgive. This is especially hard when we are truly the innocent victim. But when we choose to forgive, God is faithful in giving the spiritual strength that eventually neutralizes our hurt. I am oversimplifying this amazing concept because it was discussed earlier (see The Tyranny of Unforgiveness—a most visited topic) and because I want to look at these words—“and comfort him”.

What a relationship mender! When we, the victim, reach out to comfort the oppressor, we start looking at that person in a whole new light.

Hurt people hurt people. It takes the strength that can only come from God, to reach out to comfort a hurtful, but hurting person.

Revenge, Retaliation, Payback, Justice

You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” But I tell you do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matt 5:38-9)

So which is it? There is never a contradiction in God’s word, but this sure seems like one. Actually, an eye for an eye deals with the law and how to handle legal issues, matters of justice such as retribution for stealing.

The message that Jesus both taught and modeled was love. He never sought revenge or even justice when He was falsely accused. He taught us to pray for our enemies and ask God’s forgiveness for them.

Jesus came to fulfill the law, and by following Him, instead of punishment, we are given grace.