25 July 2007

Is this love?

My morning meditation had me in I Corinthians today. Any student of the Bible will recognize this passage tells us much about love.

While I was reading the scripture, I reflected to a conversation I had with a friend earlier this week. She was sharing a story she heard over the lunch table at work from one of her friends. This woman was relaying her frustration in dealing with her family's apparent refusal to acknowledge her work for them. Evidently she is upset over their ability to keep things tidy and help her maintain the home. She has employed many methods to get them to help. She was sharing with the lunch crowd that she felt the effort she put forth was a gift of love for her family and she thought it was not being appreciated. She went on to say how much it hurt to have her love gift ignored.

As I was listening to the whole story one thought kept running through my brain. She obviously doesn't understand what love is. If you are truly expressing love you do so for the sheer joy of giving of yourself to another. The gift is it's own reward. That doesn't mean that you don't enjoy it when you get a positive reward. Everybody likes a pat on the back. It just shouldn't be the motivator for loving.

True love cares more for others than self, is pleased to bring others pleasure, is satisfied by meeting someone else's need.

The most distressing part of this whole story is the fact this woman works at a local church. Church is the place to learn the most about love. Accepting God's love for me causes me to share it with others. I am convinced if you allow God to fill you with His love you have no choice in sharing. You will be filled to overflowing and love should spill out of you onto everyone you encounter. The verses below are often quoted as being a description of the virtues of love. I don't think that is quite right. I find it to be a guide for expressing love. Notice how many of the identifiers of love contain verbs. Verbs connote action.

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

I Corinthians 13 4-7
The Message

Later in the chapter we are told that we and our knowledge of God is incomplete but to hold on until we can be made Complete in Him.

But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation:

Trust steadily in God,
hope unswervingly,
love extravagantly.
And the best of the three is love.

I Corinthians 13:13
The Message

Seeking God's help to love as extravagantly as I can

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