Love – Going Deeper

It is true what they say about marriage. You are always learning new things about your spouse. We are continually growing and learning new things about each other. My husband and I have been married for almost 25 years. We know each other pretty well. Now and again, though, we will surprise each other with something we say or something we do. It is the same way in our relationship with God. Just when you think you know all there is to know in His Word, you read something and see it in a way you never did before, or He does something, and it completely takes you by surprise because it seems so out of character for what you know about Him.

I think this is why He gave us marriage. This relationship is a real-time example of our relationship with God. My husband and I knew each other when we got married but only the very tip of the outside of who we were. As we have lived life together and gone through good times and hard things, we have had to go deeper into knowing one another: surgeries, jobs, babies, and financial struggles. You can not live surface level when you are going through those things together. It takes commitment and love. Not just a love that is surface level.

Today we are going to go a little deeper into our love study. We are focused on one verse today, yet there were multiple side scriptures and notes about this one verse. God’s Word amazes me and encourages me to go deeper with Him.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant. 1 Corinthians 13:4

I am going to start by giving you some definitions for these words. I believe that it is important to understand what the words mean. These definitions come from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

PATIENT1. Bearing pain or trials without complaint; 2. showing self-control; 3. steadfast, persevering

KIND1. of a sympathetic, forbearing, or pleasant nature. 2. Arising from sympathy or forbearance

JEALOUS 1. demanding complete devotion; 2. suspicious of a rival or of one believed to enjoy an advantage; 3. vigilant

BRAGto talk or assert boastfully

ARROGANT offensively exaggerating one’s own importance

With these definitions in mind, we will study this verse and learn more about who God is, who He desires us to be, and how He wants us to live as children of God.

Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses. Proverbs 10:12

Henry’s Concise Commentary says: “The wise know how to recognize and what to expect of various kinds of people. A good woman will rather help than weaken her husband, and a good man is even kind to his animals. The fool is always sure of himself, speaks without thinking, and is destroyed by his own lies. But the wise both listen and speak well.”

As I read this and think about all that has gone on in our Nation this year, God has really exposed our hearts this way. For years, I was more of the fool in this scenario. I was either too sure of myself in what I was saying or quickly spoke and became very reactive. This caused damage to many relationships for me. Some of these things were self-protection and defensive mechanisms due to damaged and broken places in me. I have seen this happen in many conversations online and in person. People seem to think they have all the answers and know what the solution is for all that is going on. Of course, we all think our perspective is right, and only one and anyone else around us is treated as ridiculous.

I love what it says here: “The wise both listen and speak well.” To love people means we need to listen well. We need to think of the other person and care about what they say and feel despite what we think. It doesn’t mean we have to agree, but we need to listen and not be quick to speak. When we speak, we need to pause and evaluate the words coming out of our mouths.

“Are they kind”?

Am I being patient by listening, and do my words reflect that I am impatient with the person I am speaking to?

Do my words reflect any jealousy, or arrogance?

Let’s commit to being intentional to listen and speak well this week.

I have applied all these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, brothers, that you may learn by us not to go beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?
Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. 1 Corinthians 4:6-9

The Life Application Study Bible says: “How easy is it for us to become attached to a spiritual leader. When someone has helped us, it’s natural to feel loyalty. But Paul warns against having such pride in our favorite leaders that we cause division in the church. Any true spiritual leader is a representative of Christ and has nothing to offer that God hasn’t given him or her. Don’t let your loyalty cause strife, slander, or broken relationships. Make sure that your deepest loyalties are to Christ and not His human agents. Those who spend more time debating church leadership than declaring Christ’s message don’t have Christ as their highest priority.

I have been walking with the Lord for over thirty years. I have been through many growth spurts and phases, and through many of them, there were individual spiritual leaders I was following or listening to. Now there are even more available to listen to, whether on television, podcasts, or social media. We have different spiritual leaders in our church, and in other churches. We have political leaders. I have been in many conversations over the years debating whether a spiritual leader is good or bad. I have heard people giving their opinions left and right about who is a better leader in the church and who is a better leader for the United States. Somehow along the way, we lose focus. We allow the debates and conversations to cause division in the church.

This past year, both on-line and in the church, I have heard more discussion about church leadership and political leadership than I heard about Jesus. I often wonder, do we love our leadership by praying for them and asking God to be the one to speak into their lives and to lead them in the right direction, or are we so proud that we think we have all the answers? Do we rely on church and political leadership more than we rely on Jesus? These are the right questions to ask ourselves. Our most significant loyalty should be to God, not His human agents. We should be talking about our relationship with Jesus and building each other up in that relationship. We should be more concerned that they know Him and not the spiritual leader or political leader we think is great.

Let’s commit this week to focus the greatest spiritual leader in our life; Jesus Christ.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6

The Life Application Bible Study Notes say: “There is one body”, says Paul. Unity doesn’t just happen we have to work at it. Often differences among people can lead to division, but this should not be true in the church. Instead of concentrating on what divides us, we should remember what unites us; one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God. Have you learned to appreciate people who are different from you? Can you see how their differing gifts and viewpoints can help the church as it does God’s work? Learn to enjoy the way the members of Christ’s body complement one another.”

I really appreciate how this scripture says, “eager to maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace”. I had to look up the word eager as I read that this morning. Merriam-Websters definition says:

EAGERmarked by an urgent or enthusiastic desire or interest.

Are we eager to maintain unity in the body of Christ? I don’t like to admit this but I don’t see people who are eager to maintain unity, I typically see people who are eager to get someone else to see their point or side to things. I see people who are eager to divide, and I see people who are eager to have their own way and who are not willing to look at someone else’s perspective or thoughts and feelings.

We have a foundation in Christ that unites us. The truth is we are all different. God made us uniquely different. That is amazing to me. For a long time, I struggled with people who were different than me, not with disabilities or other things like that but people who could do things I couldn’t do, or had interests that were different than mine.

The message I received from others growing up was that who I was as a person was not good enough. I needed to be more this or that. I needed to be more like this other person who was into sports or other things. What I liked seemed silly to them and many times I was made fun of for who I was, so I started trying to be like other people, which lead me to a bad place. We can become jealous of others and their gifting if we aren’t careful. We need to use our words to build people up in their gifting instead of telling them they should be different. Love is not jealous.

Let’s commit to encouraging someone in their gifts this week. Try to focus on someone that may be very different from you.

This last verse is special because last week at prayer night, our Pastor shared this scripture and it was a prayer focus for us for our church. A couple of days later I was studying to prepare for this blog post as well as an online bible study I am doing for our women at church, and this verse was a side verse to the main scripture. That is confirmation. When God does that, He is affirming what He is saying, and it is an encouragement to pay attention.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Colossians 3:12-15

The Life Application Bible Study Notes says this: “Paul offers us a strategy to help us live for God day by day.

1. Imitate Christ’s compassionate, forgiving attitude.

2. Let love guide your life.

3. Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.

4. Always be thankful.

5. Keep God’s Word with you at all times.

6. Live as Jesus Christ’s representative.

Let’s commit to praying and asking God to help us live this out. Through our relationship with Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can listen and speak well. As we focus on Jesus Christ as the greatest spiritual leader in our lives, we can live in Him, and we can live like Him. We can live in His peace and His love. The focus comes off of us, so we are only boasting in Him, walking humbly in the gifts He has given us to love Him and one another.

We can change the atmosphere no matter who is President, no matter what is going on around us. Let’s continue to focus on who Jesus is and go deeper learning about this amazing, faithful God who has created us for that relationship with Him and with one another. The enemy won’t be able to continue to divide and destroy when we begin to live this way.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your Word. May You plant it deep in our hearts, in that good soil, so it may grow and bear fruit for You. Please help us to keep our eyes on Jesus no matter what storm is going on around us. Please help us to walk in Your peace and thankfulness. Give us an appreciation for who You have made us be and who You have made others be. Help us to seek you first and keep You first in all things, including our conversations. Help us to listen and speak well, representing You in all that we say and do. In Jesus’ Name!