What A Loving Person Looks Like
What A Loving Person Looks Like
If I have $1,000,000,000, what will I have if I take the first digit away? Zero. Just one little number makes a gigantic difference.
In the same way, Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13 that I can have great experiences (“speaking human or angelic tongues”), or lots of knowledge (“understanding all mysteries and all knowledge”) or lofty ambitions (“faith so that I can move mountains”) or good deeds (“giving away all my possessions, giving over my body in order to boast”), but if I don’t have love, “I am nothing.” Nothing.
That’s what leads him into maybe the most-quoted section of the entire Bible:
Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
That Scripture is so powerful and inspiring, I’ve even seen it on wall hangings at Ross. But here’s the thing. All these attributes of love didn’t come out of thin air. It’s not like Paul was like, “Hmm … What is … love? … Well … Love is patient. .. And … love is kind.” No, if you read the rest of his letter to the Corinthians you’ll find all these words in other places. Because these are all things the Corinthians weren’t doing. They weren’t patient and kind with each other. They were really arrogant and rude toward each other. They didn’t bear all things with each other.
But Paul doesn’t respond by giving them a to-do list. He’s not saying, “You really need to work on your patience and kindness. You really need to stop being rude. Try smile!” Instead of a to-do list, he offers a living picture of what a loving person will look like.
You’ll be patient. Even with people who aren’t patient with you. With difficult people. People who need extra grace, extra time, extra help.
You’ll be kind. Even to people who aren’t kind to you. People who annoy you and aggravate you. People who purposefully go against you. Intentionally hurt you.
You won’t envy people who’ve got stuff you don’t. And you won’t boast when you’ve got stuff they don’t.
You won’t be rude, self-seeking, and irritable. You know that person who always makes some kind of comment about everything? You always need to walk on eggshells because you know he’s going to say something? If you don’t know that person, that person is probably you. Irritable and rude!
But if you value love more than anything else, you’ll find no joy in unrighteousness. You won’t gossip about other people and the mistakes they’ve made. You won’t secretly cheer when someone else fails. “Her kid failed algebra. My kid won the math award!”
No way. If you value love more than anything else, you’ll bear with people, even when they annoy you. You’ll believe the best in people, even when they hurt you. You’ll hope for the best in people, even when they fail you. You’ll endure with people, even when they disappoint you.
Now, I know that kind of life can seem unattainable for us. It seems totally impossible to do all that. But God never calls us to the impossible. You can do all that, because that’s what Jesus did for you. You can love God and love the people around you, because Jesus loved you first.
As 1 John 4:10-11 says, “Love consists in this: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, if God loved us in this way, we also must love one another.” In other words, it’s possible for us to value love more than anything else, but only when we’ve experienced the love of God that comes through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross, as the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Jesus gave up the love of God so that we could gain the love of God. Remember what he said on the cross? “My God my God, why have you forsaken me?” He was forsaken by the one person in the universe he loved the most. Imagine that! If you’ve ever really loved someone and been rejected by them, you know how devastating that is. It’s the worst feeling in the world. And that’s one-one-thousandth of the pain Jesus experienced, for you.
Jesus was rejected by God on the cross so that you could be accepted by God today. His extreme love for you is what will power your love for God and the people around you.