Love Is... (part one)
“It has been noted by numerous writers how Paul describes love with the church of Corinth and its shortcomings as a background. Where they are impatient and hurtful, love is longsuffering and kind. Where they are wickedly jealous, boastful and arrogant, love is happy for others, self-effacing and humble. Where they…are rude, selfish and irritable, love is courteous, unselfish and emotionally in control. Where they…are CPAs of wrongs they suffer, love dismisses injuries from the mind. Where they…smile at wickedness and are resentful when chastened, love is delighted with truth and hurt at wickedness. Where they…openly scorn another’s weakness, love covers it…Where they…are suspicious, disgruntled and quick to flare up, love trusts, continues to optimistically look forward and bears with a grin what comes its way” (McGuiggen, pp. 174-175). While these verses certainly have a great application to husbands and wives, or other family relationships, they were primarily penned to a church struggling with prejudice, jealousy, pettiness, and waning faith. Indeed, even beyond the application to the Corinthian church, love is meant to have universal application – our enemies, government representatives, wicked employers, and complete strangers.
“Love is patient” The patience of love is not one that is just resigned to endure a situation one cannot change. More accurately, this love is patient with people even when there is opportunity to take revenge or get even. It is self-restraint in the face of injury or provocation. Love comes through for us even when our enemies are testing us, pushing our buttons, and seeking the limits of our patience. I am encouraged by the fact that love does not need ideal surrounding to thrive. To Paul, love can grow and be exercised even in a congregation that is torn by strife, envy, worldliness, and pride.
“Love is kind” In other words, it is useful, helpful, friendly. Love does not express itself with regret or frustration. It is never caustic or ungracious.
“Love is not jealous” Love never detracts from the praise that is due others, or tries to make accomplishments seem less by comparison. Love does not look for ways of trivializing the hard work of others. Instead of being envious, we ought to be satisfied with our own portion and talent.