The world is in chaos and everyone seems to be shouting their opinion right now. Have you noticed? Is it wearing you down?
But even more than that, I get irritated at MYSELF when I notice I’m complaining or criticizing.
I don’t want to slip into a habit of negativity.
I don’t want to be rude because I don’t agree with someone.
I don’t want to avoid talking to someone I love because I’m tired of hearing their opinions about politics I don’t agree with.
We are called to be loving. But it’s hard when you disagree with someone, especially on issues that are very important to you. And it’s even harder in these emotionally charged times.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul gave us a few insider tips about love that can help:
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.
(1 Corinthians 13:4-5)
Have you read these verses a thousand times? I know the feeling when your eyes gloss over and maybe you skim a bit. You know what the words say. You barely need to read them.
But when I slowed down with these verses, the last sentence caught my eye. “It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
Wise words the Spirit was using to speak to my conflicted heart.
Now to put Paul’s words into practice…
#1 Honor Other People
When we see someone across the table or across the internet spouting lies and untruths, it can get our blood boiling. Whether we choose to say something or keep silent, either choice takes a toll. It costs us something.
If we can remember, no matter how irritating or frustrating someone is, or how wrong we believe them to be, they are still a beloved child of God, it can help us treat the other person with the dignity they deserve as a child of God. It can help us honor them (even if we don’t respect them).
This can help us move more quickly from a place of anger to a heart of prayer, inviting Jesus into our interaction with them.
Love does not dishonor others.
#2 Focus on Serving Others
When we think someone else is wrong, it’s natural to get riled up and start thinking of all the right words we can use to teach them the “right” way (our way). But when we are self-seeking, constantly thinking we know what’s right above everyone else (and sometimes, sadly, even above God), we lose sight of what’s really important…love.
More importantly, it’s not how Jesus operated. And we can trust the example Jesus gave us to teach us how we should live.
Jesus didn’t back down from a disagreement with the Pharisees or Sadducees, but He didn’t seek out those arguments either. His focus, the focus of His whole life, was on serving others.
When we start to notice ourselves preparing to launch an argument on a topic, or going out looking for a disagreement, it could help to reshape the way we look at the issue.
Instead of seeing it as an argument or seeing ourselves as the judge and jury, we could look at the situation from a servant’s perspective.
How could I help? Who could I serve to make this issue better in my own little way?
Love is not self-seeking.
#3 Don’t Keep Score
We are God’s beloved children. We deserve to be honored, but people are going to be rude and disrespectful to us. It’s inevitable in this sinful world.
But when we don’t get the honor we deserve as children of God, Paul tells us…don’t keep score.
Love doesn’t keep track. It doesn’t actively work to hold onto the wrongs people have committed against us in the past.
Being unforgiving will rot you from the inside out. It will make it harder and harder to love other people until eventually you suspect the worst in people instead of looking for the best.
So if your friend, family member, or a perfect stranger on the internet offends you, pray for them, pray for yourself, and give it to Jesus to sort out in heaven. Then ask Jesus to heal the bitterness and anger you feel toward the person, and to help you work to see the good in people.
Love is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Paul tells us love rejoices with the truth. Jesus is truth and He is love. Join in that rejoicing with Him today. Persevere in prayer and love so your life will become more abundant with Jesus.
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