Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Time to Grow Up! Part Seven

1 Corinthians 13 is basically a study on the selflessness of love. It is a challenge to me asking: What are my motives?

v. 5: "Love is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered"

(cue Don Henley): I've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter...but I think it's about forgiveness...

The first six parts of this study were done two years ago--and then I stopped. I'm not really sure what set me back but I think I got hung up on the meaning of this portion of verse 5. As I tried to make sense of it last night, I originally thought it meant, "don't provoke", but now that I've thought it through, what I think it's really saying is, "don't allow yourself to be provoked".

There are a couple of common sense reasons why this is important. First of all, if God is for me, what does it matter if anyone else is against me? Not that I don't get hurt when there's conflict in my life, but is it really worth it to respond to those who would provoke me? I've experienced the heartache that comes from casting my pearls before swine. Remember what your mama taught you: Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.

Wait a minute!!! That's not true! Often times, words hurt worse than physical abuse. Words carry curses and reverberate through our heads for much longer than it takes for a bruise to heal.

This is where the next portion of the verse comes in. "(Love) does not take into account a wrong suffered". Forgiveness. Always forgiveness. What God has shown me in this verse is that if we'll keep an attitude of forgiveness--always forgiveness--then we'll automatically keep ourselves from being provoked.

If we commit to forgiving, even before the wrong is done, then when the provocation comes, God's love will be a barrier between us and the hurt. We'll be more concerned with the hurt inside the one provoking us than we will be about the hurt they are attempting to cause in us.

We can do this by practicing grace. If there's one thing the Lord gives us in abundance, it's His grace. If we are to be Christ-like, let's begin by extending that grace to everyone around us--most of all to those who, by their actions, seem the least deserving of it.

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