does not envy
does not boast
is not proud
does not dishonor others
is not self-seeking,
is not easily angered
keeps no record of wrongs
does not delight in evil but
rejoices in the truth.
always perseveres. [1 Corinthians 13:4-7]
Our human kind of love is just not capable of what God’s love can produce in us and in our neighbors. Just for example, I loved my husband, but for a long time I took what he said about me personally and resented it. About 15 years into our marriage, I was finally able to see that what he said that seemed to be about me was really just about his view of things and not about me at all. I no longer took what he said as directed at me personally and he was able to do the same. Then our love was really able to flourish, as our defensiveness faded.
As God heals the pain and traumas within us, we become more and more able to love with God’s kind of love– not the human kind of love– until at last we can really express the fruit of the Spirit: love, peace, joy, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and humility(self-control). Think of that: that love expresses peace and joy, patience, goodness, kindness, and gentleness, faithfulness and humility. If we approach our neighbors with the fruit of the Spirit, then we get a wholly different response then when we rail at them, judge them, confront them or just plain preach at them—our more human ways of approaching our neighbors.
What needs to be healed in us in order for us to be able to express God’s love is
our tendency to judge others who are not like us,
our competition with other human beings,
our attachment to our own ways of being and doing in this world,
our refusal to love ourselves,
our ego’s preferences for how we want our lives to go
All of these are deeply grounded in our fight or flight syndrome which would protect us from any harm. But it also keeps us from joy and peace and love. If we are called by God to love Him and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves [The Two Great Commandments of Jesus, Matt 22:34-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-37], then we need to willingly give up all these efforts of our own that cut us off from God and other human beings. The way we are to show our love for God besides attending church, praying and putting God first in our lives is to treat all our neighbors with God’s love, not with the human kind.
For this is how we prove our love of God, of Christ and of the Holy Spirit—by how we treat everyone else, including ourselves, in this world. So we have to give up all manner of attitudes that judge or condemn or distance ourselves from others. We are to embrace the other person, value who they are, what formed them and their choices in this world. We are to help where needed and to express unadulterated love for the other, as if it came straight from God himself. We are to be the vehicle for God’s love in this world. Just as He is loving every human being and forgiving them their sinfulness, so we are to be loving and forgiving, too. We are to give up our very personal ways and to adopt God’s ways of love towards everyone—with His help– rich or poor, no matter their race or education or status or any other difference between us and them, no matter what they have done in their lives.
If we Christians were to give out God’s kind of love in all that we do and say, then think how different this world would be!
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I immersed in the human kind of love or in God’s kind of love? Do I love with patience, peace and joy and all the other fruit of the Spirit? What do I need help with to give out this kind of love? What should my prayer be? What are the issues in me that come between me and God, between me and other people?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who can love freely, without any self-interest controlling us. May we love freely and completely.
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God’s love in our lives in all that we do, then how different the world would be, how inviting the kingdom of God would be.