My pastors are teaching a series on the 9 fruit of the Spirit. Today the topic was love. We were challenged to read I Corinthians 13 daily. As I was doing this tonight another comment from the sermon jumped out. “If we are not exhibiting the 9 fruit in our lives, something is wrong with our love.”
I admit to being a little self-righteous in my thinking about love. I “love” people, genuinely. I haven’t met anyone that I dislike. I don’t hate anyone. So I thought I was doing pretty good in this area. Then in the sermon, the preacher pointed out that love, God’s defined love is Agape love. It is defined in the scriptures and I fall so incredibly short.
Love is long-suffering or patient. I love my family dearly, second only to God, I say. I am not patient when my daughter’s family comes over for Sunday dinner. If she tells me a time and is not here, I become impatient. It doesn’t even matter if dinner is not ready. If it is ready I will just go ahead and eat instead of waiting patiently to enjoy dinner with my daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren. When my husband drags into the shower when I am ready to leave, I am not patient. It doesn’t matter that he’ll be ready to walk out the door before I get my shoes on, and I’m the one that is “ready.” That is not God’s love.
Love is kind. Today when the little cutie I call granddaughter was smearing chocolate all over herself in the car, I was anything but kind when she didn’t want to take the wet wipe and wash her hands off. Or when my daughter borrows something and doesn’t put it back. I will send her a snappy message if she is not here that is anything but kind. If she is here I am not kind with my words or tone, I am frustrated. That is not God’s love.
Love does not envy or is not jealous. I have always looked at this from a materialistic view, and said I’m not an envious our jealous person. However, I have caught myself being jealous of people’s down time. It doesn’t matter I have pretty much hand-picked the activities, including work schedule, that consume my time. I enjoyed my extended time off last year, but I find myself envious of those who have more downtime. I am envious of the time they have to enjoy God’s presence, even though it is available to me at all times. That is not God’s love.
Love does not parade itself or is not boastful. I have realized lately I do this without thinking. I don’t mean to, but subconsciously I must have the desire. I brag about the things that I have accomplished. As a task oriented person it is easy to accomplish things, but that means nothing if it is not the things that God has called me to do. I can accomplish everything and miss the things of God. Parading what I have done leaves not room for what God has done. That is not love.
Love is not puffed up or proud. I have to fight against this also, daily. I don’t think about it as pride, but when I judge where I am and how I perceive things against where someone else is or how someone else sees things, it is. When I compare my journey to someone else’s and look at the difference between the two, that is pride. I am not better than anyone else, and it is false humility when I put myself below someone else. That is not love.
Love does not behave rudely. I have a straight forward personality. I call it like I see it, and have never felt the need to soften my viewpoint. I can remember being told once that I should take a class in tact. And those are times when I am not trying to be rude. If I am offended, I am downright rude. That is not love.
Love does not seek its own or it is not selfish. I admit this is an area where there has been great improvement, praise God, but I can still be very selfish. If anyone will allow me to make it all about me, I do. It is still first nature. I do like relationships with give and take. I also find myself at times being very selfish if someone spends too much time on themselves in the relationship. That is not love.
Love is not provoked or irritable. This one has been tested a lot lately. My mother has multiple health problems, and on top of them has dementia. I often get very frustrated when at her doctor appointments or helping in her care. There are things I can see, and history I know. Some of her symptoms are not seen. She gets an idea in her head and every test in the world can’t convince her it is okay. I get irritable when the tests say she is good, but she is dramatic in saying she is not. Or when she gives three different answers in the span of one visit. I realize that it is not her, but the illness but sometimes I let it provoke me and I am irritable. That is not love.
Love thinks no evil or keeps no record of wrong. I know that God has brought me leaps and bounds in this area as I used to be able to recite every wrong ever done to me. When my husband and I would get into a disagreement I would bring up the time that we were dating and he…. Over the last eight years of our twenty-four year relationship I have been able to stop that. However the other night we were walking and he made a comment, and I made snide comment about something that he did over a decade before. It wasn’t relevant or a necessary comment. It’s in the past and he has more than made up for the wrong. That is not love.
Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. Or it does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. I believe that God has given me a passion to fight against injustices, and celebrating when truth wins is the joy that comes at the end of tough battles.
Love bears all things or it never gives up. I have kept my feet planted during difficult times. I am loyal, and don’t give up on those I care about. I have faced some tough stuff with my husband and family, and I continue in my love for them. God has given me the grace not to give up.
Love believes all things or never loses faith. I believe the best in the people around me. I am call them on what I see, but I believe that they can be better. Not my definition of better, but God’s plan for who they are. God has given me faith in people, to believe the best even when at times what is staring me in the face is the exact opposite.
Love hopes all things. I hope the best for those around me. When situations seem hopeless, God has given me the ability to speak hope and encourage someone until they can see things happening. God has blessed me by allowing me to see so many lives go from hopeless to hopeful. To see situations go from no hope, to situation resolved is such a blessing.
Love endures all things. God’s love continues to exist, even in my shortcomings and failures. I realize that there may always be something wrong with my love this side of Heaven. There are so many ways that my love is not Love, but God is Love. He covers my weaknesses. His love doesn’t give up on me, even as I go around the same mountain over and over again. His love is complete. His love never fails.