Learning The Hard Way

Last summer I scored an end-of-season deal on patio furniture, which was great since I needed to outfit our new home. With a click of the mouse the lovely chairs were shipped to me. In boxes…in lots of pieces inside boxes.

I guess I wasn’t thinking about the whole assembly thing. Some part of my brain must have protected me from the distressing thought of putting 10, count them 10, patio chairs together. It took 20 minutes just to properly unpack the first box and 15 minutes to make sense of my husband’s ratchet set. 25 minutes into assembling that chair I realized I had installed a key component backward and had to start over. 35 minutes later I demanded my husband take me out to eat. The first chair could wait.

Have you ever thought you were doing something really well only to discover you weren’t?

Paul talks about something similar in 1 Corinthians. The Christians in Corinth had been doing a bit of bickering about who was spiritually better than whom. In their effort to be super spiritual they had forgotten the very core of our faith: love.

In God’s view, we have little value if we aren’t demonstrating His kind of love — an unselfish love that seeks to build up and expects nothing in return.

Think about that for a second.

Paul said that if we could speak in the languages of Heaven or had the faith to move mountains (he was describing a devout believer here), but didn’t love others, we would be of no value whatsoever (1 Cor 13:3 NLT). Paul wasn’t talking about people, in general; he was talking specifically about Christians – committed, devout, serving Christians.

  • He’s talking to those of us who get so busy in the details of our volunteerism at church that we forget WHY we are serving in the first place.
  • He’s talking to those of us who say yes to opportunities to help others, only to find ourselves complaining about the work required to help them.
  • He’s talking to those of us who go to church every week but are short-tempered with daily acquaintances.
  • He’s talking to those of us who say we love God but then tear others down with our words.

YIKES! My toes are getting stomped on, y’all!

So what kind of love should we be training ourselves to show?

The kind that is patient and kind and not jealous. The kind that isn’t proud or rude or irritable. The kind that doesn’t give up and endures through every circumstance.

Reading 1 Corinthians 13 simply reminds me what God wants me to do. I will patiently and kindly love others….even those who wrong me because God does that for me. I will not allow pride to hold on to feelings of bitterness. I will not be rude in response to ill-will, and I will keep no record of wrongs. (Ok, let’s be honest. I might never forget the things others do to harm me, but I can choose not to hold it against them.) And, I will determine to remain hopeful in every relationship.

The truth is if we’re busy doing lots of good things, like serving in church or offering to help others, but we trample on people in the process, we are missing the point. God desires love, not activity. He is pleased with love, not busyness.

Let’s not live our whole lives thinking we’re doing something really well only to discover we’re not. Let’s start today learning to love God’s way. Trust me, it’s always the best way.

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