Writing is free therapy that connects the world in ways beyond comprehension.
Love, what exactly is love? A feeling, an emotion, an action word, God, love is all of these things. What are the characteristics of love? 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says, "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."
Is this how you love? I can't say that I totally love this way, but I am trying. Love is hard because we are so used to things being a certain way that often times we neglect certain parts of love, like the patience part, if someone does something that gets on your nerves, we are quick to dismiss them or say something rude. We get agitated and forget that we love them for that one moment. I know I am good at this, especially when my son starts whining and acting as if he is two years old! UGH! Look I am getting impatient just writing about it. It drives me crazy and makes me want to shake him! LOL! Don't judge me, you know you get like that too! Or when your significant other does something you feel is stupid and you take their heads off with your words, lol! Raise your hand if you know what I am talking about! LOL! I see you over there with both hands raised. I think patience is the hardest part of love, once you have patience all the other parts are easy.
Think about it, which characteristic comes first? Patience, look at that, you got it on the first try :0) Patience comes first, why? Well without patience you can't be kind. Is it possible to be kind and not patient? Let's look at the definition of kind: Having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature. Can we do that without patience? Lack of patience usually leads to an angry or aggravated spirit; I don't how many people can pull being kind off while being angry or agitated. Imagine someone handing you a dollar with an angry tone, lol! You probably wouldn't want to take it; I know I wouldn't! Never mind, keep your dollar would be my response!
Ok, moving on, now we know you can't be kind without patience, what about the next one, "it does not envy". Hmmm, how does patience relate to being envious? Well let's see, if we are patient we know that our time is soon to come and we would not be envious of others and what they have. Is it possible to not be envious without patience? I don't think so, if you lack patience, everything you see, you will be envious of. I want that now! Why don't I have a man/woman, why don't I drive a fancy car... but if you have patience you know that God will provide! "And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4.19 So you see, if you lack patience you will be envious - no bueno mi amigos! Didn't know I could speak Spanish did you! Ha! lol! Ok, only a little!
Alright, so we can't be kind and we will be envious without patience, what's next? "It does not boast", ok, so boasting means bragging, how does patience relate to bragging? Well, it takes a lot of self-control to remain humble; to understand that it's not about us, and without patience there is no self-control. So in order to keep from boasting we need the patience to refrain from making it all about us. There is of course one exception to this rule, but only when it comes to me, it's always about me! LOL! Just kidding, no seriously it is! Bwahahahahahahaaaaa!! Ok, ok, I just couldn't help myself! Hush bestie, say nothing! I digress, back to the topic of discussion, see how I just did that! Now if I had patience, I would have stopped myself from interjecting that statement. SMH, Lord please help me!
So let's look at this a little closer, imagine with me if you will (in my preaching voice lol) God, being the loving God that he is, lacks patience, heaven help us, I would not be writing this and you would not be reading this, we would not have even been born LOL! He would have wiped us all out and kept moving. Praise God that he is love, because if he wasn't... he wouldn't have sent his son, he would have thought about it and said you know what, nope, Jesus stay right where you are! I'm not giving myself for these people, the same people who neglect me and use me only for their own selfish gain, these people who don't love me, who turn their backs on me time and time again. Ok, now I'm off on a whole other topic, let's get back to the subject at hand. If God weren’t love, we wouldn't be.
Next, "it is not proud", I like how the list talks about what it isn't as well as what it is. There can be no confusion on what love is. It is not proud, how does patience relate to being proud? What does proud mean: Having, proceeding from, or showing a high opinion of one's own dignity, importance, or superiority. Well I guess you can say that this goes right along with boasting, since pride and boasting go hand in hand, self-control is needed in this case as well and a good dose of humility! Pride and love don't belong together - pride prevents you from being open, from being vulnerable from being willing... from being patient. If you're all puffed up you won't have any patience to deal with anyone else, you will have a sense of superiority, that you are better than others and that is definitely not love. Since we are grouping here, why don't we throw in "it is not self-seeking" into the mix. All of these relate to being puffed up.
Love does not "dishonor others". Sometimes we can be so impatient with people that we judge them or we speak ill of them because we don't understand them, or because we don't want to understand them. We are so quick to rely on our own resolve that we neglect to see the world through their eyes, we forget that it is not about me, we forget that we all sin and fall short. We often hear that power is in the tongue, well it is. We can't lack patience and then speak highly of others; again this spirit of negativity comes into play when we have no patience. We need patience in order to deal with others on all levels, to encourage and uplift we need the patience to listen to what's going on, the patience to think our reply through before we speak, the patience to stick around to talk about it or be there for someone, or even just sit with someone. Job's friends sat with him for hours on end without speaking can't do that without patience.
Love is not "easily angered", well isn't this an easy one, you definitely need patience to control your temper. Without the patience to deal with people or circumstances we would all be angry all the time. There has to be a level of patience involved in order to not get angry. Scripture tells us "Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry." James 1.19 We can't do this without patience. James goes on further to say in verse 20 "Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires." And we want to please God, right? So if we want to please God, we need to develop patience so that we are able to control our tempers and act in love instead of react with emotion.
Love "keeps no record of wrongs", love doesn't hold a grudge. Oh boy, now we are on my street, well the street I used to live on. I could hold a grudge for life, that is until I realized that forgiveness is key to pleasing God and living a life of low stress. We may not realize it but when we hold on to things, it drains us, it keeps us from God's will and it creates needless stress in our lives. Holding on is allowing that person or situation to control you, because every time you think about it, animosity begins to take hold and you become hurt or angry as if it just happened, but if you let it go and forgive, each time you think about it, you smile knowing that God has forgiven you as you have forgiven others and you understand that this situation or person no longer has a hold on you, your spirit is free from their hold. This part of love is difficult because we are so deeply connected to our feelings that is becomes hard to let go, it becomes hard to truly forgive because all we can think of is the wrong... start thinking about the right, think about what you learned from the situation or the person, think about what God can do in your life and theirs. We have to understand that without forgiveness we remain in bondage. There's a saying that says you don't forgive a person for them, you forgive them for you. I find fault in this statement because you forgive for yourself as well as for them. Forgiving them shows them that you are loving, it shows them how God operates, it shows a level of patience that allows you to be in their presence without wanting to lay hands on them, and I don't mean with the anointing oil! ;0) Scripture says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you." Ephesians 4.32; "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one and another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive." Colossians 3.12-13 There are so many other Scriptures that talk about forgiveness - we must pay attention. To truly love you cannot hold records of wrong, we must forgive and move on in love.
Love "does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth" We cannot love and then wish bad things on people, we can't rejoice when bad things happen to people, it's just not right. We already know that you reap what you so, but we should not delight in people's misfortune, even if they have wronged us. Revenge belongs to the Lord, not us. Delight: A feeling of extreme gratification aroused by something good or desired. Evil: Something that is a cause or source of suffering, injury, or destruction: the social evils of poverty and injustice. I know there have been many times when I said to myself that person deserves what they got, or have wished bad things on people because of what they did to me, but that was lack of patience on my part. And my lack of patience caused me to act unkind, it caused to me to hold a grudge, it caused me to anger... you get the point. Patience is still an ever-occurring theme in all of these characteristics of love. Love rejoices with "truth" - the truth of the Gospel, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us so that we can be made clean by the shedding of his blood. The truth the "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." John 3.16. "But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God." John 3.21 Let us delight in these truths instead of evil, let's not be quick to judge or point the finger saying I told you so, let's not be too proud to think that we are better than others. Interestingly enough my Pastor in his sermon today made reference to the parable of the tax collector and the Pharisee:
"Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other people - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.' "But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a sinner.' "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." Luke 18.10-14
Let's not be like the Pharisee, exalting ourselves, I'm telling you, that's the wrong way to go.
The last group of things that love is points to three things that brings joy "trusts, hopes and perseveres". These three things definitely relate to patience. You need patience to trust, because things don't always happen instantaneously and some times when situations look bleak, we have to have the patience to trust that God will provide. You definitely need patience to hope because if you are impatient you feel defeated; there is nothing else that can be done. Hope and trust go together, your faith provides hope and your trust strengthens your faith, either way without patience none of these exist. Love perseveres - well you definitely need patience to persevere, otherwise if things don't turn out as they should you will quit, but if you have patience you will try again, and again until you reach your goal. Love is a multitude of things, but without patience you will have difficulty truly loving others.
Perhaps in our daily prayers we should include the desire for patience so that we are able to love as God describes. Though we are not Jesus, we should strive to do as Jesus would have us to do and that is love. We know what the true definition of love is, the bible makes it clear, we just need patience and the Holy Spirit to act accordingly because love is the fruit of the spirit and without the Holy Spirit there is no love.
I pray that God will send his Holy Spirit to permeate our souls so much so that we have an outpouring of this love that Scriptures teaches, that we are able to walk, talk and act in love so that someone may see Jesus in us and want to know what they must do to experience this same love.
I could go on writing on this subject of love, but if I love myself, I must take care of myself and resting is an important part of taking care of myself. So I need to retire for the night and get some rest. I would however, love to hear your comments on this wonderful topic of love.
Talk you soon!
Keisha Natalee Cole
She Speaks I She Writes I She Lives