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Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians 13’

Cubes - 379 - INFLUENCE

Influence can be good or bad … lets consider the good.

Who has influenced you?

Who has changed your life?

What you do …

What you say …

How you think …

How you live …

There are many in my life who have influenced me for good. My parents, other family members, friends along the way, teachers, my hubby, my children.

One of the events, the other day, was that the youth pastor of our church was taking our son out for lunch, and it reminded me of a person who influenced me as a teen of about the same age as my son.

I did not grow up as a ‘church kid’ who was marinated in the things of that institution from conception onward. I went to Sunday School, and to the summer DVBS (Daily Vacation Bible School) programs, but I did not know the ins and the outs of church life (some days I see that as a blessing … after all, we church people are so very human).

What I did know about church came from my own observations … old women had VERY hairy legs, my grandmother sang like Lucille Ball, do NOT run in the sanctuary, and that church is a place where you get cookies and juice (truly, feeding my sugar-cravings was the way to ensure I came back).

The most important learning I received at church came from my Sunday School teacher when I was in middle school.

Beth was a lovely, loving lady. Not a nasty word was ever spoken from her mouth, and she greeted each of us with a warm, welcoming and sincere embrace. She was a wife of a pig farmer, and mother to two little boys. They did not have much money, yet her eyes glittered with more joy than any other person I knew. She loved us all equally, whether we were a ‘church kid’ or just some kid from the community who was brought faithfully to Sunday School each and every week.

In Beth’s presence I felt cared for, accepted, and loved far beyond what I expected from someone who was not family. It was the way that Beth loved me, loved all the girls in that class, that made me see the possibilities of a life with Jesus as the model. And, for me, Beth was that model of Christ’s love for me.

She shared of her life as a believer in Christ, she shared of her life as a wife, as a mom. She held nothing back when she shared of her own experiences in those roles.

She lived the life of being patient and kind, she did not envy, or boast, and was not proud. She did not dishonor others, and was not self-seeking, easily angered, and kept no record of wrongs. She did not delight in evil but rejoiced with the truth. She always protected, always trusted, always hoped, always persevered.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

In her Sunday School class, Beth taught … from the Bible. My most long lasting memory is a continuing lesson on faith, that was rooted in:

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)

The teaching of that lesson … teaching about hope, teaching about faith influenced my life even until today. And she communicated love in the most consistent of ways.

I am thankful for this sister-in Christ, who influenced me so significantly.

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Sitting at a wedding recently, the ‘love chapter’ was read.

1 Corinthians 13 is a pretty common passage read at weddings, after all a wedding is all about love, and this passage certainly fits the bill.

There is a portion of the reading that always catches my ear, my thoughts …

“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”
(v. 4-7)

Whenever I hear those words read at a wedding ceremony, my ‘experienced’ married brain of twenty-three plus years, thinks, ‘they have no idea what love is, no idea how difficult it will be to keep loving.’

Now I don’t mean to be so negative at such a special event. It’s just that … well, after twenty-three plus years in the marital trenches I understand that soon the firing will start and both of those individuals who ‘love’ each other will be experiencing what it is to be shell shocked.

Let’s unpack this!

“Love is patient,
Other than the fashionably late bride, has there really been much practice of patience before they say ‘I do’?

love is kind.
Being kind might be more difficult when he is sick, and she is PMS’ing (so I’ve heard).

It does not envy,
What happens when one is experiencing great success at their career, and the other is experiencing a time of stagnation?

it does not boast,
Sometimes this is heard in phrases like, “my mom makes much better turkey stuffing” or “my dad always filled the gas tank for my mom.”

it is not proud.
“my chair,” “my remote,” “my chocolate,” “my money,” “my body” … just put ‘my’ in front of it and you’ve got pride.

It does not dishonor others,
They have not had time to tell their private stories, of the other, to their girlfriends, their guy friends.

it is not self-seeking,
Lets face it, in the beginning, a relationship is truly born out of self-seeking. They meet the needs of each other, and it is in the meeting of needs that their attraction for the other grows. The difficulty is that we often ignore this part of the passage, as soon as it is said. When, in realty, it should be on our lips, and in our minds from sun up ’til bedtime at night. I really believe that if we can drop self-seeking in the early days, we might have a better chance of staying together. How many couples, years (or months) after the marriage say, “but, they don’t meet my needs anymore …”?

it is not easily angered,
On the wedding day, it is easier to not be easily angered … there has been no anniversary to forget, or in laws to insult.

it keeps no record of wrongs.
This is sooooo much easier in the beginning, when there has not yet been enough time to have wronged each other, when there is so little baggage to make you say things like, “but, you always do …”

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
At the beginning of a marriage both individuals are filled with hope for the future (otherwise why would they do it?), they are not anticipating the negative, the nasty.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”
These are the optimistic four! Can the couple keep protecting, trusting, hoping … can the couple persevere through all of the stuff of real, honest to goodness living together … ’til death do them part?

I’m not saying a newly married couple knows nothing of love, just that newly married love is often untested, untried. It is only as the years pass that love will really be defined and purified in how they love each other …

and the greatest of these (faith, hope and love) is

love.

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“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy
but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.

If I speak God’s Word with power,
revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day,
and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps,

but I don’t love, I’m nothing.

If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr,
but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere.

So, no matter what I say,
what I believe,
and what I do,
I’m bankrupt without love.”

1 Corinthians 13:1-4

In 1 John 4:7  we are told, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.” Then, later in 1 Corinthians 13 we are told it is “is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (v. 4-7).

It would appear that if we are to love like God loves, we need to do so with the mind and actions of Christ in all that we do … otherwise, Christ, and all that He brings to the table is omitted.

Everywhere we go today we are faced with two words. They are ‘trendy’ words. They are ‘in’ words. But they are not always accompanied by the love of Christ. They are … social justice.

Social justice is an attempt within a society to address issues such as world poverty, clean water, sickness, human trafficking, homelessness, the environment, and oppression around the world. It is a valid, and valiant desire to fulfill the Golden Rule (“do for others what you would want done for you” aka Luke 6:31).

Our North American society is gaga over social justice. The phrase “first world problems” (complaints made by only those of us who live in the privileged 10-15% of the world) has replaced the phrase “out of the box thinking” of just a few years ago. The Occupy movement that littered many cities with everything from human refuse to biodegradable coffee cups, preached an end to the injustice of economic inequality.

Politicians pull out Social Justice issues to win over voters and elections. Teachers integrate into our curriculum teaching of the need to give and to do for those who are not as fortunate as those of us in the ‘first world’. Preachers preach of our need to love our neighbor … in another country, another continent.

“… but if we don’t have love …”

Back in December, I wrote in my post, A God Thing, about the apathy of my homeroom class in choosing one of the prescribed causes to support. The overwhelming response was, “I can easily donate _____ to one of the causes, but it really does not have any real meaning for me.”

I wonder if what these teenage students were really saying, “I can give, but I don’t have love … heck, I do not even know who I am giving to.”

I believe strongly in social justice, I donate to causes and organizations that are the hands and feet of my moula (as well as of Christ), but I have to admit that, like those teens in my homeroom, I have become so satiated with the message of social justice that it is losing any real meaning for me.

Social justice has become so trendy, so … loveless.

What if, rather than try to save those living on the streets of Tijuana, we help our neighbor who is struggling under financial burdens that might make that family homeless?

What if, rather than try to get kids out of prostitution in Thailand, we work towards building up the young girls in our neighborhoods, our schools, our churches, so that they are not tempted into

What if, rather than helping the sick, the lame, the disabled in a third world country, we got to know the senior citizen who lives alone, or the single mom whose son is Autistic, or the gentleman in the wheelchair who you see whenever you go to the swimming pool?

What if …fec41385b476074eb5cbf7fe81e454fd

we showed love …

to those most near to us?

Could there be a more ‘just’ action to do as a society?

Then maybe helping those under oppression, without basic needs, and without hope around the world would have more meaning to us?

if-we-cannot-love-the-person-whom-we-see

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With a title like this one, I know of at least one person who will read this blog post!

I have been married to my hubby for almost twenty-three years, and yes, he has taught me a thing or two. Probably not as much as he would have liked me to have learned from him in that time 😉 .

The best thing that he taught me has made me a better person, a better mom, a better neighbor, a better colleague and better at my job (probably a better wife too, but hubby would be better at discerning that). It is something that he told me he recently learned from an elderly retired pastor, but really he has been living it as long as I have known him.

This thing that I have learned from hubby is to take people at face value. To not impart guessing into their motives, but to accept them as they are.

It sounds good … it is not easy.

I am one who has a tendency towards discernment. I have an inner ability to grasp and comprehend what is obscure (definition thanks to the Merriam-Webster dictionary). Another way to put it is that I often get a ‘feeling’ or have a sense about individuals when I first meet them, that is often, but not always true. This gift tends to make me very open to some, and very guarded to others.

If I get a bad ‘feeling’ about someone, I tend to treat them with suspicion, distrust, and doubt. It is so easy for me to hang a cloud over that persons head, and for me to treat them in a manner in which they are convicted before they are even accused. I give no opportunity for them to plead their case. I act a judge and jury, and they are imprisoned by arrogant way I yield my ‘gift’.

What hubby has modeled, in my lifetime with him, is that he gives people the benefit of the doubt. He believes well of people, until he has evidence, from them directly of something different. He believes in people with no judgment on them. He gives them the benefit of the doubt. He always believes, always hopes, always perseveres.

Hum, that sounds familiar.

It sounds like 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
“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. Love never fails.”

To love someone is to do all of the above. To pre-judge is to never allow others the opportunity to show their best side, and likewise it never allows us to show ours either.

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