Monday, June 26, 2017

Loving your neighbor

"The love which Paul describes goes out to our brethren and to our fellow men. "Love suffers long." This first stroke of the brush shows that we are to be given a portrait of Christian love as it finds itself amid the sins, evils, and trials of a fallen world...
Paul does not describe love to us in the role of performing great, wonderful, and astounding deeds; he prefers to show us how the inner heart of love looks when it is placed among sinful men and weak and needy brethren. He does not picture love in ideal surroundings of friendship and affection where each individual embraces and kisses the other but in the hard surroundings of a bad world and a faulty church where distressing influences bring out the positive power and value of love."
(Lenski, R.C.H. (1961). The interpretation of I and II Corinthians. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House, p. 554-555).

This commentary is in relation to 1 Corinthians 13:4. To begin by saying "love suffers long" (KJV) leads to the implications made by Lenski above. If, as he says, love were in ideal surroundings, it would not suffer. However, it does suffer because of the difficult surroundings love finds itself in. So love has to be patient, love has to resist being unkind, boastful or rude. The environment would have the tendency to push it in that direction, however, it must resist. These resistances to reaction in and to a hostile environment are the successes of love. We face these challenges to love in the "sins, evils, and trials of a fallen world" as well as a "bad world and a faulty church."

Obviously the church is not perfect and will never be until redeemed by Christ himself as his bride. But we expect more from it. Perhaps we expect faulty love, but we still expect love nonetheless. But faulty love can be improved upon if we desire to improve upon it. When aspects of our faulty love are pointed out to us, one would hope our response would be more along the lines of "Thank you and I will try to respond better" than a response of "Whatever?" Sometimes the faulty love we evidence is most clearly demonstrated in our response to devalued people who have always experienced faulty relationships, faulty caring and faulty love expressed toward them as a matter of course. It is no wonder they often will not trust us when we try to be more loving toward them.

I see the lack of love in myself toward others. Anger will sometimes trump love. Comfort will sometimes trump love. Impatience will sometimes trump love. It isn't that I have refused to do something spectacular from a love perspective. No, it is more that I have refused to love more mundanely through phone calls, spending of time, being patient. My relationships with people take place in a "bad world and a faulty church." Will I contribute to continuing the bad world? Will I be the evidence that the love of the church is faulty? It seems to start with me.



  1. Anonymous11:46 AM

    I appreciate Paul’s description of love; the ability to love when the going gets tough is much more important than loving others when it is easier to do so. Our true personalities are revealed in the way we treat others; however, there are numerous factors in life that can make it difficult for people to conduct themselves in a caring and thoughtful way. Facing temptations daily makes it difficult to love, but we must recall that we should be living like Jesus. If He was able to love through every trial and temptation, so can we. As we are given constructive criticism, we should embrace it and take it with a grain of salt. I believe the purpose of friends and family is not only to love one another, but help each other realize and understand our faults in a respectable way. It is vital that we express our love to every individual, especially since we do not know what they are going through. People have to face tough battles constantly and we should build one another up through love. Let us become individuals that display loving and healthy mannerisms in lieu of permitting our inferior qualities to take control. Faulty love needs to come to an end.

  2. Anonymous4:13 PM

    Love is not love until it has been tested and existed in a place of discomfort, of pain, of this twisted world. That's the beauty of it, right? I think we may idealize love in a way that is unfair to it. How many people swear by the redeeming power of love and then fall to pieces when the world does not go their way? Such conditional love is not truly love at all, in my opinion. If anyone's love come conditionally, then "love" is not the proper term for it. "Allowance" or "benefit" may better suit it.
    But, as you've stated, sometimes we may become distracted from the purpose of love or choose more comfortable paths. It is the intention of improving that will help our love become what it truly ought to be.
    I would like to build on this with a lyric I have recently become enamored with. Looking at the state of the world today, Misterwives asks:
    "Oh love, where did you, where did you go?
    'Cause I need hope that these sticks and stones won’t break my bones"
    Everyone is so willing to hold on to their comfortable hate. How many will choose love when it counts?
    How many will be able to FIND love when it counts?

    ~The World is Quiet Here