Some of us think issues which come up in life are really ours to deal with. We set off in pursuit of the solution, almost without thinking - simply because we have "handled" it before, or we think we can handle it now. We have the "power", but we lack something more important - the "love" behind the action. The trouble with this kind of "do it and get it done" mentality is our lack of enthusiasm for the task - and the lack of sensitivity to those who are affected in our "handling" the task!
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. (I Corinthians 13:2 MSG)
There are many great points within this thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians, but one of the most salient is the idea of doing things, being in relationships, or giving ourselves to things without the love behind it. We reveal the "power", but lack the "heart". When we keep God at the center of all our "issues", it is amazing how much the problem begins to take on a different "feel". For love doesn't focus on the "brawn" to get the job done, it focuses on the individuals affected by the process. If you have ever thought about how much "knowledge" you possess to be able to "do stuff" and then compared it to the "sensitivity" you have in doing the stuff, you might just find you come up with a whole lot of smarts, but a little lean on the sensitivity part.
In life, we acquire all kinds of abilities. We learn how to tie our shoes, drive a car, run a particular machine, diagnose a disease, etc. These are acquired abilities. We saw it done, experimented with it ourselves, and in time, became proficient at the task. True, these tasks are important and God wants us to use our "skills" or "abilities" to further his kingdom, but when we do it without love, we really aren't doing it as God would like. You see, there is one thing which makes us different from other creatures - love. It is the one thing which connects us to God's heart - "For God so loved...." It is the one thing which connects us to the heart of another. It isn't the task, the accumulation of ability or power - it is the permeation of love through the task which speaks the loudest.
Love is learned best through modeled behavior. I bring you back to what I just quoted from John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world (that is us), that he gave (unconditionally, no strings attached) his one and only Son (Jesus), that whosoever believes in him (it doesn't say does good works for him or earns his affections), will have everlasting life (not just life in the here and now, but life beyond anyone's taking)." Modeled behavior - Love gave. Love held nothing back. Love made a way when no other way existed. Love creates a newness which could not exist otherwise.
As we look through this chapter, we see a whole lot of "modeled" behavior:
- Patience - something we learn best by looking at life through God's eyes, and not our own. Our perspective brings a whole lot of impatience because we don't understand the delays, we chafe against the process, and we argue about the intention of the times when we see nothing coming out of the waiting. The change of perspective helps us see the issue from the inside out. We begin to realize the "remodeling" going on within which will eventually make its way out.
- Contentment - follows closely on the heels of patience, for learning to be pleased with the here and now helps us to maintain perspective. We "don't" have a lot of things. Some of them are left in our past, others lay ahead in our future. What we do have is today. When we begin to take the opportunities of today in stride, we begin to chafe a little less against not being where we'd hoped to be by now!
- Humility - Christ certainly exhibited this, did he not? What is modeled in humility is the desire to put others first. Christ did just that - he put us first. His needs were nothing compared to ours. Sometimes, when we learn to look outside of ourselves, we see the needs of others as much greater than our own. This helps us not just focus on running ahead of the crowd, but acting as pace-setters to help our peers run well themselves.
- Attitude - I guess we'd have to say it is the opposite of rudeness or irritability. A whole lot of time we have the "power" to do something, take off in the direction of doing it, but leave a whole lot of hurt people in our wake. Truth be told, I have done that! It is hard to not be affected by the attitude of others, but maintaining the right attitude in the midst of stressful circumstances often is the difference between success and failure.
- Forgiveness - more is accomplished in forgiveness than in all the power and might we can muster to solve the problem. Sometimes all we need is a new perspective on the relationship to bring the problems we face back into perspective.
- Tenacity - the ability to stick to it even when the results are slow coming. I think this is one of the toughest "behaviors" to really get hold of. When the problem just seems to loom and the solution is slow coming, we go back to the top of our list and work our way down again! We embrace patience, live in contentment, humble ourselves to admit we don't always know the best way to do something (even when we know the right way), adjust our attitude and then get back into right relationship. In the end, we get a lot of "sticking power" which takes us the distance! Just sayin!