February 3, 2014 by Chris French
In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul talks about love, but he’s not defining the mushy Valentine’s Day kind of love here, or at least he’s not only talking about that kind of love. You should love your spouse like Paul outlines here, but have you ever looked at this passage in depth? You’ve probably heard several sermons from Paul’s words here and you’ll probably hear another one in a couple of weeks, but this week I wanted to look at some of the words Paul uses to define love and see how well we match up to true love.
Paul starts off his definition by saying that love is patient and kind. That word “kind” literally means that your personality puts people at ease and that you shrink back from hurting others. All that doesn’t come thru in our word “kind”, but it did in Greek. You may be thinking that your personality is just naturally kind of harsh and sarcastic. That’s not good enough! God never called you to be yourself! He called you to be like Him! Some are born with a personality that lends itself to this definition of kindness. They can naturally and without even thinking about it make other people feel comfortable around them even during hard conversations. Some people aren’t born with this personality and we have to work on it, but unless we want to be useless to God we better be developing this trait (1 Corinthians 13.1).
The second part of the Biblical definition of love is our fear of hurting someone. We shrink back from hurting others. I get the picture of Dracula quickly pulling away from the light of the sun when I think about this aspect of kindness. Of course this doesn’t mean that we let sin run rampant in people’s lives. Ignoring a cancer in my friend’s life is not kindness. What this means is that when we do have to have those difficult conversations I handle you with kid gloves. More often than not though this characteristic of kindness can be seen in our everyday interactions with people. If I’m stressed and you get in my way I might explode on you. Since one of the puzzle pieces that makes up true love is kindness I am very cautious that my words and actions don’t hurt you.
So how do you match up? Are people repelled by your personality or do you put them at ease? Are you quick to speak and slow to think about how it will affect the hearer? Paul would say that you’re missing an essential piece of love!
Kindness is fairly easy to practice on a good day, but I think the true test of whether your personality has truly been transformed is how you react on awful days, days when everything has gone wrong and the big deadline is coming up. All that stress is coming because we really value whatever it is that we could lose. Which brings to mind a question. What do you value? If I value meeting a deadline or getting a project done over your feelings I’m going to show you that by the way I treat you and the deadline. If I value you over the deadline when the deadline conflicts with you I don’t run you over to get back to it. What do you stress out about the most? What do you worry about the most? The big question is what do you run roughshod over to get your job accomplished, hobby taken care of, alone time, or whatever else you’re trying to do? The thing that you’re willing to sacrifice everything else for is the thing you truly value.
Paul would say that if love isn’t the motivation of everything you do even the good things you do are useless. Kindness is an integral part of love so to be of use in His kingdom I need to make sure my personality puts others at ease and that I shrink back from hurting others like I would shrink back from hurting myself.