Thursday, May 28, 2009

Love... does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

It was unintentional, but it still hurt. The words spoken weren’t meant to be spiteful, but they still struck a cord inside of me. Now the decision point comes. Do I tell this dear one that they hurt me, or do I hold it inside? As a peacemaker, my first choice would be to internalize and never tell this person how their words wounded me. But 1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love “rejoices with the truth.” If I internalized this hurt, I wouldn’t be doing myself, or this loved one any good. I would only be building a wall between me and this person, and causing more trouble in the future.

At times, it’s hard to be truthful with those we love, isn't it? Consider Psalm 15:1-4: “LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts.”

Speaking the truth from the heart can be difficult. It can be painful. It can cause strife. But it can also cause healing.

What do you need to be truthful about today? What has God been saying to you? How can God bring healing to your relationships through love and truthfulness?

I’ll leave you with John 3:20-21: “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God."

Friday, May 8, 2009

Love is... not easily angered

The attributes in 1 Corinthians 13:5 can be really tough to carry out sometimes. The Apostle Paul tells us that love is not easily angered, but how do we live this out?

I have to admit that I’ve already had a few times today when I’ve become angry and resentful. It’s easy for me to hold a grudge when I feel that I’ve been wronged, and harder for me to show the love and graciousness God calls me to.

For me not being angry includes holding my tongue.

Proverbs 29:23 says that “An angry man stirs up dissension and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” I know I have said many things in a moment of anger, only to regret them later. This verse from Proverbs reminds us that sin often results from anger. Isn’t it true that we often do and say things in a moment of heated argument that we often regret later? As James tells us, the tongue is a dangerous weapon. It is poison in our lives (James 3:8). In moments of anger it hurts deeply… the wounds it causes are hard to repair.
The destruction an angry tongue causes are not products of love. What does love look like then? How does a Christian respond to moments of irritation?

Instead of anger, those who love with the Love of Christ must exhibit patience. Listen to the words of wise King Solomon: “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

Sometimes, holding one’s tongue is what love is all about. Sometimes all it takes is a little God given patience to get past those moments of irritation and move one. For love is being patient when those we love the most annoy us the most.

Prayer: Lord, please replace any angry moments in this coming day with patience and love.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Love... keeps no records of wrongs

Our section of the Love Chapter comes from 1 Corinthians 13:5 today. In this verse Paul tells us that Love “keeps no records of wrongs.” Yikes, this is a tough one! I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but give me a person and I can easily come up with a time, even a decade or two ago, where they hurt me in one way or another. But love means forgiving and forgetting.

Consider the sinful woman in Luke 7 who anoints Jesus feet with oil. Jesus tells the Pharisee named Simon: "Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little." (Luke 7:44-47)

Jesus knew of this woman’s past. Yet, he knew that she was truly repenting of everything she had done. And he forgave her.

1 Peter 4:8 says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” It’s often hard to forgive, especially when the offense was personal. But Jesus forgave. He loved. And more than that, once the sin is forgiven, it’s forgotten as well. As Psalm 103:12, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

I won’t admit here that I have a complete handle on forgiveness. It’s extremely hard to forgive sometimes. But it’s something God asks of us anyway. I do know that, if I am going to live a life of love, I can’t keep a record of all the wrong doings in the past. I have to move forward in life, and ask God for the strength to forgive completely.

Prayer: Lord, help me to forgive and even come to love those who have hurt me in the past.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lord, Bring the Spring

Back in February I took a trip to the beach. As a child I visited this place quite often, but it had been years since I’d last looked out across these waters. Something was different about this trip though. Instead of warm gusts of wind, I was meant with frigid temperatures and frozen piers. The sight of the beach in the middle of winter was breathtaking. Icicles hung off of reeds of grass, shimmering in the winter light. Around me ice cracked as the sunshine caused it to melt, what a beautiful sight! The crackling ice reminded me of the changing seasons and how God works through the seasons of my own life.
My first close experiences with death happened in college. In the space of a few months I lost two of my grandparents. My family has never quite been the same since. Grief caused pain and rifts that have yet to be completely healed. There was so much pain and doubt during this dark time. I was confused and hurt by everything that was happening. I wondered if my family would ever be happy again. But God was working even then. He was calling me to trust in him that

“What was frozen through is newly purposed
Turning all things green
So it is with You
And how you make me new
With every season’s change” (Nichole Nordemon, “Every Season”)

Even during this season of death, God had a purpose. It’s been six years since then, and I can’t honestly tell you what that purpose was. But I do know that he’s slowly thawing the hearts of my family members. Some off us have already experienced the joy of spring, while others are still dwelling in a time of darkness.

Understanding why God would allow such things to occur is beyond us. It pains me to see all of this suffering.

This beautiful afternoon on the winter beach reminded me of King David’s words in Psalm 30:5, “weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.” Morning always follows night. Spring always follows Winter. Sometimes these winters of life feel like they last for years. Take heart, Spring will come.