Theme of the Week: Friendship
Bible Verse: 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. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a.
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Patience is pretty low on my personal character quality inventory. That’s not an overstatement. If anything, it’s soft-pedaling that particular short-coming. The absence of that virtue was magnified over the strict lock-down portions of the COVID pandemic. I love my wife and my children. But they, unfortunately, see the least gracious side of me. And being together for more hours than we normally are, presented us with more chances to show each other those pretty areas of our personalities that need the most development.
I say I love them, but then 1 Corinthians 13 decides to challenge that assertion head on. The very first character quality of love is patience . . . That’s one of those passages that I wish we could chalk up to contextual interpretation and application. And the list is only getting started.
While this passage is popular at weddings (it would be interesting to see if this or Ruth 1:16-17 is the more popular), it was never meant to describe romantic love—although it certainly should. Paul wrote this famous passage to a church that was struggling with divisions. This was how they were to treat each other. These are the character qualities and practises that were to define their relationships. Far from romantic love. This passage describes brotherly and sisterly love. Friendship.
Paul highlights just a few (a good argument can be made that this is not an exhaustive definition—good, but not exhaustive) of the characteristics of love. And remember, Jesus said that we are supposed to love one another. Paul lists both positive things—qualities that love is/has—and negative things—traits or actions that love does not have/do. It’s a difficult list to live up to with those we claim to love, let alone those outside our closest relationships. But this is the list we are called to live out to one another. This is the kind of friend we are called to be.
Prayer: Jesus, I know you have called us to live in love for others. I can see from 1 Corinthians 13 that I fall short nearly all the time. Please help me to do better, even just a little with showing love to those around me.
Reflection: Which character quality in the list of 1 Corinthians 13 is easiest for you? Which is the most difficult?
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