Posted by: forfreedomalone | 04/06/2017

What is this thing called love? 2

Yesterday we started looking at love, as defined by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Today we’ll look at the second attribute of love which Paul writes in the positive. Love IS patient, love IS kind, he says. Why are these two positive but from here on he writes in the negative, love IS NOT proud etc?
He does this because he is writing to the Corinthians who were neither patient nor kind, but were proud, self-seeking, easily angered, etc. He is drawing a contrast between what love is and how they are behaving.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit and so it is deposited in us when we accept the Spirit. However, it does not just happen to be the way we live our lives without any effort from us. We have to make choices, daily, to allow the Spirit free rein in our lives to love as he wants to love, and not as we want to.
This is a process.

Just because I understand what love is, does not mean I live in a loving way every minute of every day. We all fail and we all have to pick ourselves us and start again, but learning to love is all the other fruit, it has to come to maturity slowly and over a period of time.

When one plants a new fruit tree there will be no fruit for three or maybe more years. The tree is too young and immature to produce fruit. It needs time to get its root established and to grow strong. THEN it produces fruit.
In the first year that may be one or two small pieces, but, as the years pass the fruit gets more, larger and better quality. The best fruit does not come from a young tree, but from an old one.
The perfection of love is not something we can produce in our first year, nor even in our 20th, but it is always the perfect picture we hold before us as the example of what is within us and which we can choose to let out.

So let’s move on to the second attribute of love…..

LOVE IS KIND.

We could see that patience is passive, but kindness is active. Being kind requires action.

People who are kind set themselves to take action for the welfare of others. They are willing to ‘do’ rather than sit on the sidelines and watch. They will see needs before most and they will not hold back in meeting those needs because of perceived slights.

Kindness reaches out, even if its hand will be struck. Kindness wants to help others out of the darkness and into the light.
Kindness is an attribute of God.

Luke 6:35 tells us that “He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men”
Eph 4:32 tell us to “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also forgave you”
This is in the form of a command from Paul. He is instructing the Ephesians, and us, that we are to do this. It is not a suggestion.

According to Paul, when he wrote to the Galatians (5:22) kindness is another of the fruits of the Spirit. Once we know that an attribute of the mature Christian is a “fruit of the Spirit” we are utterly without excuse. This attribute is already deposited within us and we are expected to work it out into our lives.

Kindness does not mean that we never challenge or oppose things, in the lives of others, which will hurt them or worse, destroy them.
Kindness will not allow disputes and divisions, it will not stand by and watch as sin is accepted, it will not assist those who are sinning to continue to do so. Kindness does not support the rights of one over the other. Kindness wants the other to do well, to be honoured and to be all that they can be in Christ.

Kindness and long-suffering could be seen as two sides of the same coin. While long-suffering endures the abuses of others, kindness seeks to do good to those who are the abusers.

Kindness, like long-suffering, is not always easy. It can be hard to endure the abuses of others and, sometimes, even harder to respond to them with kindness, but if we want to understand love and be like the one who first loved us, we have to be both long-suffering and kind. We have the power we just need to make the choice.

God is love and love is kind.

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