1 Corinthians 13 is called the “Love” Chapter. In Monday’s post we began to look at verse 14. The first sentence tells what love is: Love is patient and kind. The second sentence in verse 14 identifies what love isn’t:
It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 1 Corinthians 13:14b
According to Wikipedia, Aristotle defined envy as the pain a person experiences at the sight of another person’s good fortune. Jealousy, bitterness and resentment are all characteristics of envy. As I think about envy, I realize this is often an interior, perhaps secret attitude of the heart. Envy can be masked with a disingenuous compliment.
Boastfulness, on the other hand, is generally pretty noticeable. Arrogant, bragging, big-headed behaviors are hard to hide.
Pride may manifest itself with egotistic, vane or self-important characteristics. Another form of pride, however, occurs in the person who believes he or she is indispensable or responsible for taking care of the needs or sins of others.
The other day, I was visiting with a young wife who told me her conscience was pricked when she realized she was focusing on her husband’s behavior weaknesses rather than her own. The sincere woman said she’d been reminded of words Jesus spoke:
“And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? (Matthew 7:3 NKJV)
I’m no longer a young wife, but I sure could relate to her observation!
I must be purposeful about dealing with my “plank” rather than focusing on another’s “speck.” For instance, it’s a whole lot easier to identify envy, boastfulness and pride in someone else.
Ignatius of Loyola stressed the importance of experiencing sorrow, tears and confusion over one’s own sins, but always in the light of God’s unlimited love, grace and mercy. Before I became acquainted with St. Ignatius, I’d reached this same conclusion.
The more I realized what the Apostle Paul called the width and length and depth and height of God’s love (Ephesians 3:18) and that there is no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus (Romans 8:1 TPT), the more I realized the freedom that comes when I’m willing to recognize and acknowledge “planks” in my own eye.
When I say, “God, I’m so sorry. I did IT (whatever IT may be) again,” I come with the absolute assurance God won’t be angry and won’t abuse me emotionally or spiritually. God won’t gasp an exasperated sigh, wag a warning finger, or make a sarcastic comment.
Instead, God will wrap arms of unconditional love around my soul, accept my confession and validate my growing self-awareness. God will give strength for my next steps and grace to help me amend my ways.
If you’re one of my friends fortunate enough to receive a sweet Valentine’s card tomorrow, enjoy. Whether or not you’re blessed with a Hallmark sentiment, I hope you’ll allow the words of a never-changing God to sink deeply into your heart:
To __(insert your name here)__, the one I love,
“Never will I leave you;
never will I forsake you.”
From your God who is love…
Happy Valentine’s Day…
- Hebrews 13:5 ↑