Four years ago, I was in a funk! It was a difficult time and things just did not seem to be going as planned. I found myself extremely discouraged and discontent. It was nothing earth-shattering—no grave illness or life-altering circumstance. And I had many REALLY good things in my life for which to be thankful. And yet, I felt stuck. Stuck with little hope that things would change. Stuck with a case of the blahs, and a bad attitude to go with it! I had resigned myself to the situation and my pity party was underway. Summer was approaching and everywhere I turned everyone else’s life seemed to be going to well (and we know this is never as accurate as we tend to see it in our own heads). Nevertheless, with all the talk and Facebook and Instagram posts on the excitement of summer plans, trips to the beach, cruises, and “beautiful, perfect-looking” lives, my pity-party was in full swing!…continue reading
Sometimes walking by faith and trusting God is hard. When our dreams, desires and expectations collide with our reality, it’s easy to become discouraged and give into apathy. When life seems like a tidal wave washing over us, it’s hard to endure and persevere. Many times we find comfort in the routine and change is not always welcomed.
But we find encouragement in 1 Corinthians 13 when it speaks of a love that believes, hopes and endures ALL things.
Life hurts sometimes. We all face times of loss, disappointment, hardship, discouragement, and doubt.
Read how Paul describes his situation in the letter to the Corinthian church in the first century:
For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. —2 Corinthians 1:8-9
Can you relate to any of these thoughts or feelings? Burdened beyond your strength? Despair? Affliction?
The word for burdened in the original language of Scripture means heaviness, weight, burden, trouble. If you continue reading, Paul gives us the proper perspective to adopt in the midst of our hardships:
But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. —2 Corinthians 1:9-10
We have hope! As painful and uncomfortable as these situations may be, they serve to teach us to rely on God. We read that God delivered, will deliver, and will deliver us again. That’s good news!
My idea of deliverance from something painful or difficult is very different from what is promised in this verse. The word for deliver in the original language means to draw to one’s self, to rescue. I often want the deliverance to be out of or the end to a difficult circumstance!
But God delivers by drawing me to Himself. He is my place of refuge, security, hope, peace and joy in the midst! Because…He IS hope. He IS peace. He IS joy. He IS steadfast and immovable. He IS the source of my hope, joy, contentment, and peace in life. None of these are dependent upon my circumstances, but in knowing and trusting in the character of God. He IS faithful and trustworthy!
God is our refuge and comfort in times of difficulty and despair. As we walk in love, we extend this same comfort and encouragement to others. We are not called to bear life’s difficulties alone.…continue reading
I like order. I like rules. I like to stick to the rules and I like it when others follow the rules too. I have a tendency to be a “line drawer”. I grew up with three sisters. I am the oldest, and naturally the bossy one. As a military family we moved around…ALOT! Most of the time I was blessed (and thankful) to have my own room. It worked best given my tendency to like things in order, neat, clean, and everything in its place. It was not a desire my sisters all shared with the same conviction. At one of our duty stations my sister Patty and I had to share a room. She was not as concerned about the order of the room. One day, in extreme frustration with the mess, I was going to teach her a lesson (for her own good, of course). This wrong needed to be righted! I drew the line! Literally. I found the duct tape and put a strip down the center of the room threatening that anything that crossed the line was going in the trash! I felt so good about my decision. Smug. I was going to teach Patty to be a neat, organized person, and to follow my rules for the room. Patty readily agreed to this new rule. I was shocked! As she walked out of the room, she pointed out that the door was on her side of the “line”. I was stuck in my “perfect” room.
Love does not rejoice in wrongdoings but rejoices with the truth. —1 Corinthians 13:6…continue reading
Forgiving others when we have been hurt or wronged is hard. No question! So where do we begin? How do we love and forgive when we’ve been wronged?
As we continue our study of learning to walk in love, let’s compare 1 Corinthians 13:5b with the mutuality commands (one anothers) found in Ephesians 4.
Love..is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. —1 Corinthians 13:5b (NIV)
Love…is not irritable or resentful. —1 Corinthians 13:5b (ESV)
Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. —Ephesians 4:32
LOVE is not irritable or resentful so WALK being kind and forgiving.
Seeking my own way and serving my own needs is not hard. But learning to put others first at times can be difficult. When it comes to love are self-seeking or serving?
We continue through 1 Corinthians 13 as we compare the attributes of love with the mutuality commands (one anothers) found throughout the Scriptures.
Love does not insist on its own way; (ESV)
Love is not self-seeking; (NIV)
Love isn’t always “me first,” (MSG)
Love is not self-absorbed. (The Voice)
Love is not selfish. (HCSB)
—1 Corinthians 13:5b
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” —Galatians 5:13-14
Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. — 1 Corinthians 10:24
LOVE is not self-seeking so WALK serving one another.
Seek (insist) in the original language of Scripture means to require, demand, expect, crave; to demand something from someone.
Seeking, craving and demanding my own way is not hard! If you are like me, I find being a creature of comfort and convenience quite natural and easy. I like things to fit my routine, my plans, my schedule, my needs and my expectations.
“One measure of our love is our willingness to care for people who aren’t very attractive to us: the whining, griping, passive, angry, and annoying people we try to avoid. “ —Julie Clinton, Woman of Extraordinary Faith
Jesus doesn’t just call us to love the people we like. God loves and accepts each of us in our weaknesses and faults, and through that love changes us. God’s love expands the field of vision and our hearts so we can better see and love others the way Jesus sees and loves them.
A love that serves removes the “me”focus, because the focus is Christ! This love-walk is the overflow of my love relationship with Christ Jesus and that enables me to love and look to the interest of others instead of seeking “my way”.
The opposite of a self-seeking love is a serving love. What does it mean to serve others in love?
A Serving Love Shows Hospitality and Welcomes
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God ‘s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. —1 Peter 4:8-10
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. — Romans 15:5-7
show hospitality —hospitable, loving strangers; a friend/kind to strangers.
welcome — to take as one’s companion, to take by the hand to lead, to take into one’s heart, to take into friendship, to receive into one’s home.
We show hospitality when we extend kindness and love to a friend or stranger. We show hospitality by acknowledging people, by commending accomplishments and by expressing affection and gratitude for others. We show hospitality by opening our homes to friends and strangers.
Our homes do not have to be large and impressive in order to extend hospitality. As they say, “love grows best in tiny spaces”. All that is required is a willingness to open our homes, and to do our best to make others feel comfortable and cared for while they are our guests.
We welcome one another as we embrace people as they are, whether strong or weak, right or wrong. It is not something we practice only when we “feel” like it or extend only to those who are easy to love and serve. It requires that we serve with a love beyond our natural abilities. It requires a complete dependence upon the Lord as His Spirit expresses love through us. We just become the vessels of His love.
A Serving Love Serves
As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God ‘s varied grace: —1 Peter 4:10
serving — to attend to anything that may serve another’s interests
We serve one another anytime we meet the need of someone. We serve one another as we use our spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ and further God’s kingdom. We serve one another as we commit our resources, time, money, energy and expertise to meet the practical needs of fellow believers and those in need around us.
Is God calling you to love, serve, welcome or show hospitality to someone outside your comfort zone? Extend a hand of hospitality today!
Rejoicing in Him!
©2013 Walk in Love, Susan Cady
“Follow your heart!”
“Do what makes you happy!”
“Look out for number one!”
These are all love and happiness messages of the world that seek to inform how we are to live. But how do these messages align with the walk of love we’ve been discussing?
We continue our comparison of the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 with the mutuality commands (one anothers) in the New Testament Scriptures, as we seek to discover how the way of love helps us to walk in love.
Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. —1 Corinthians 13:4b-5a
Let’s begin with the definitions of these attributes of love as found in the original language of Scripture:
- Envy means to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred or anger
- Boastful means to boast one’s self; extolling one’s self excessively, a braggart
- Arrogant means to puff up, swell up, to inflate
- Rude means to behave in an ugly, indecent matter; to act unbecomingly
Unfortunately, I can relate to displaying all of these attributes at one time or another in my life. They certainly seem to characterize the current climate of our culture. But a walk of love is none of these!
A walk of love is characterized by showing honor and mutual respect for one another.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. —Romans 12:10
In the original language show honor means we let others know we value and esteem them. It is the idea of showing deference or reverence to someone.
In the original language outdo does not mean we seek to “one up” others, but rather it means to prefer, to go before and lead the way by example, and to show mutual respect.
A walk of love is displayed by a community that dwells together in harmony.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. —Romans 12:16
Harmony in the original language is a word that means to think, to have a mindset. It describes where we direct our thoughts as individuals and refers to being of one accord or of one mindset as a collective group.
Before we begin our discussion of what means, practically, to walk out a love characterized by mutual respect and harmony take a moment to read through Romans 12.
LOVE does not envy or boast and is not arrogant or rude so WALK in harmony showing honor and mutual respect for one another.
This walk of love requires a shift in the way we think.
This shift in thought begins by remembering who we are! In our guiding verse for this study, Ephesians 5:1-2, we saw that we are the beloved of God. It’s about identity!
Our identity goes beyond our gender, race, ethnicity, and roles in life. These can certainly inform and give insight to who we are, but they are not the core of our identity as believers in Christ Jesus!
We can define identity as where we find security (our core trust) and where we find significance (affirmation/worth).
When our identity is found in something or someone other than Christ, we will live from a place of fear—seeking to defend our false securities and to perform or please to find acceptance and significance. When we allow the Word of God and His Spirit to transform our hearts and minds, we will begin to walk out our identity as new creations in Christ Jesus, those beloved by God!
When I accept and rest secure in who I am in Christ, I no longer have the need to compete with those around me or to be defensive.
An identity centered on Christ brings about a new freedom in my life. It allows me to exhibit humility and respect—rather than trying to defend myself or my position. It allows me to walk in harmony with others.
This shift in thought requires I renew my mind. My tendency in the flesh will always be toward self-promotion (envy and boasting) and the defense of what I feel is right (arrogance and rudeness).
God’s Word and His Spirit change me from the inside out. It’s like a daily detox to the patterns of worldly thinking and behaving in which I find myself immersed every day.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. —Romans 12:1-2
As we remember who we are in Christ and renew our minds in God’s Word, we will be equipped to be of one mind, living in harmony, and showing respect to one another.
Ephesians 5:15-21 reminds us we are to walk wisely:
- making the best use of our time
- being filled with the Spirit
- addressing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord with our hearts
- giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
- submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ
As the body of Christ we are to be of the same mind with a single purpose:
Now may the God of patient endurance and of encouragement grant you to be in agreement with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that with one mind you may glorify with one mouth the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 15:5-6
We are to be of one mind and one mouth glorifying the Father—not boasting in ourselves or our accomplishments—but glorifying Him in all things!
We can disagree with others with an attitude of mutual respect—yet remain single-minded in our love and devotion to Christ and in our commitment to live out the gospel.
What would the watching world think if they observed us leading the way by example, as we valued and esteemed one another and exhibited mutual respect?
What if the church was seen as a beautiful symphony of love, respect, and harmony—a beautiful chorus of joyful noise that glorifies the Father?
It’s worth finding out!
©2013 Susan Cady, susancady.com
We know we are called to love others, but how do we do this? It can be even more difficult with those who are hard to love. God’s Word gives us the answer. As we learn to walk in love, it will affect our attitudes, our actions, and our relationship!
Learning to walk in love is made practical through what is known as the mutuality commands or the “one anothers” in the Scriptures. This week we begin by comparing the famous love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 with the mutuality commands of Scripture. Look at 1 Corinthians 13:4a alongside Ephesians 4:1-3:
Love is patient and kind; —1 Corinthians 13:4a
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. —Ephesians 4:1-3
LOVE is patient and kind so WALK bearing with one another.
Bear with in the original language means to hold up or keep back from falling, to bear patiently and is spoken of having patience with the errors of weaknesses of others. It implies the idea of giving another person/believer room to grow in their faith and their walk.
When I am impatient my words and actions are rushed and rude. When I walk with an attitude of bearing with my words and actions are to be patient and kind.
How exactly are we to bear with one another?…continue reading
Life is hard. Relationships are messy. How do we love one another and extend grace when we just don’t feel like it, or when it seems impossible given the current situation we are facing? How do we walk in love?
In reading through Ephesians 4:1-5:21, we find some answers as we look at two repeated words in this passage.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. —Ephesians 5:1-2
We began our Walk in Love study with the word Remember! Remember, you are the beloved of the Father—You are loved by God so deeply!
We are to REMEMBER we are loved, so that we might RESPOND like Jesus—to love as Christ loved us, giving Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
This love-walk is not always an easy path. How do I respond when:…continue reading