Your true love is measured in others
When the concept of true love has to be explained even the well-spoken Paul needs quite a number of words to put it clearly. Therefore, he starts 1 Corinthians 13 by saying what it’s not. Then he starts explaining what love truly is.
4 So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Living from the basis of love there is no space for treating other people badly. Hitting others with your tongue is taboo. If you climb over the wall, you are no longer within the boundaries of being a loving person.
What makes the requirement of being a loving person even more difficult is when the person to whom we have to show love does not really qualify for love. That person who is so irritating. That person who doesn’t deserve love. That person who doesn’t do what we want him or her to do. That person who doesn’t listen to us. That person who does his or her own thing and never listens to a word we say. How many times have I had to explain to that person the way it really works, but no! And with all these thoughts in my head I form an image of the person and it becomes quite difficult for me to picture my heart in that image.
But love breaks down boundaries. Love swims against the stream. Love makes you behave differently from other people out there. When your desk is covered in work the person you have helped so many times before and who still drags that same problem with him, walks in expecting your attention and time. When you then respond by pushing the work out of the way a bit, patiently sitting back and asking in a soft voice and with a sparkle in your eye what you can do (as if for the first time), that is when you are living and expressing love. Then you break the boundaries of irritation and sit with someone who is longing for a small piece of the bread of love – simply to survive.
Then you understand that love is not about me or the own self, but about the other person. It’s not about getting, but giving.
But love goes still further: 4 … Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self.
This can mean a lot in today’s terms. Here are a couple of ideas to give the verse practical meaning in our lives:
· Listen carefully; don’t be involved in your own thoughts.
· Be sensitive to the other person’s needs and listen to what that person is actually saying in addition to his/her words.
· Make quality time for others, even if your programme is bursting at the seams.
· Leave what you are busy with and spend time with anyone entering your space, even if the deadline has passed.
· Don’t get angry if someone steps onto the wet paint for the thousandth time.
· Don’t open old sores just to prove your point.
· Don’t elevate yourself above others and look down on those who have less than you.
· Look for places where you can do good.
· Even if you don’t wear a WWJD bracelet, still do what Jesus would have done.
· Don’t raise your voice when you’re angry, so that others can nestle close to you for consolation.
· Go into the shop and buy the homeless man a nice sandwich.
· Be an oasis in the desert where those who have been burnt by the hard rays of life can find refreshing, cooling water and rest for their soul.
Let’s be honest – it’s not easy. It’s not always easy to create a space where people can be safe and unafraid. But we have to put all our energy into doing that. That is how people felt with Jesus. We must also strive to be a safe haven for others.
Where does your love fall short?
What plans do you have to be a concerned and loving listener?
Lord Jesus, I really want to be like You. I want others to experience your love with me. I want people to feel safe with me at all times. I want other people to feel good about themselves when they walk away from me. That only can happen if your love flows through me. Amen