Loving Our Neighbors
I recently came upon a verse, which I have read and heard many times, but I came upon it as if I just read for the first time. This verse was that verse used on wedding days – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. It’s not very often that a verse which I have seen and heard many times makes me feel like I haven’t seen or heard it before. The verse goes:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
I only ever associated this passage with weddings. And there is nothing wrong with associating it with weddings either – because love IS patient, and love IS kind, and these verses are good verses to think about when wondering how we should love our spouses. However, it was a mistake for me to only associate it with weddings; because, when Paul wrote this, he did not write it so that it could be read at weddings. This was a lie I believed, mainly because I did not actually go and see the context of these verses in my own time.
This brings up another problem – when I associated this verse with weddings, I also only associated it with marriage. I failed to look at the verses true context – which was, and is, how we should love everyone. God told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. In fact, he commanded us to love them. Why, then, are we not patient with them? Why are we not kind to them? And even though God commanded us to love our neighbors, I fail to completely do so. Am I always kind? Am I always patient? Do I never keep record of the wrongs people have done towards me, or towards others?
Honestly, when I put this verse in the context of loving our neighbor, I realized how hard it is to actually love them. My sinful nature tends to take over, changing my patience into impatience, my kindness into rudeness, my selflessness into selfishness, my trust into distrust. I thought I knew how to love my neighbor, but looking back I see how I clearly have not been loving them the way I ought to.
It is time for me to realize that it is Jesus’ love and strength I can love someone fully – for it is through Him I should be loving my neighbor. I cannot always be patient, and always be kind, with my own strength, but with God’s strength I can. And while my sinful nature will cause me to slip up from time to time, it is through the power of Christ I can go back to loving my neighbor the way He wants me to.
We should love our neighbors with patience, kindness, by trusting them and protecting them, by honoring them. When we fail to kind, or be patient, we fail to love. I know I have failed many times – but this is an encouragement to all of you, to love everyone as 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. says to love. For we are nothing without love.
What are ways you can love your neighbors?
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