Today's passage: I Corinthians 13:1-4
This is one of my favorite passages in the Bible. I would venture that it is a favorite of many people. A majority of the verses are dedicated to telling us what Godly love is supposed to look like. We often interchange the words charity and love but they are not the same. One of the best definitions I have seen for the word charity is "Godly love in action". We have experienced Godly love through our Lord. It is hard to explain it without showing what it is. There is so much in these verses that I think I will take only a few at a time. I want to have a real understanding about how God loves me, and how He wants me to love other people.
"Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up." This morning as I was having my prayer time, I was really meditating on these verses. I was praising God for being these verses. He is the definition of godly love, since He is God. I was thanking Him for being a longsuffering God. He is not only waiting for unbelievers to accept His Son, He waits for me to continue to grow and mature into the Christian He wants for me to be. I'm really thankful He is so patient with me. I thanked Him for being kind. Oh, how kind He is. How can I even begin to explain how good He has been to me. He shows me kindnesses every day. He has given me a wonderful family. He has provided all my needs. He protects me.
I praised Him for being a God without envy. Jealous, yes, but not envious. They are two completely different things. I asked Him to help me to be a person who does not wish for the things of others, who does not wish to be others. I praised Him for being a God who does not promote Himself. I was really struck by this, because if there is any One who deserves to be promoted it is Him. The Bible is full of verses talking about exalting, praising, reverencing, worshipping God, and they all come from people who at the time recognize how great He is and how much He deserves all of it. God doesn't boom His voice down to us, reminding us that it is praise time again. He doesn't arrange the clouds to say, "Hey, down there, I'm up here and I want you to worship me." He could. He has all the power in the world to do that. He has all the right in the world to expect it. His beautiful Creation points to it. But He doesn't ever ask us. He isn't "puffed up". Nor could He ever be, since any recognition He gets He rightly deserves.
He does not have to exalt Himself, because when I recognize the characteristics of charity that have just been described, when I think about His longsuffering, His kindnesses, being devoid of envy, it automatically brings me to a place where I will promote Him, I will boast and brag about what a wonderful God He is.
I can't articulate appropriately just how much God impressed this on my heart this morning. I can't because He is beyond my faltering words. I pray that God will make me a person who is longsuffering (although I will never be as longsuffering as He is), a person who is kind (even though His kindnesses exceed any I even attempt), a person who is devoid of envy, but especially a person who does not seek her own glory. I pray that if I am able to achieve even a sliver of charity's traits, I will understand that I do not deserve any recognition for those things, because God is the only One who can enable them in me. If I represent charity in any fashion, then I know it can only be God, because never can I have that kind of love on my own. He doesn't demand our praise, but when any of us shows His love in our lives, He is the source of it. When we do something that seems completely contradictory to how a person would react, we are pointing to Him. We make people wonder how we possibly could respond the way we do, then He is getting that credit He deserves, because it acknowledges a "higher power" to act that way. When I accept praise for a particular kindness or unexplained patience, then it must not be charity at all, because if I can achieve it on my own, it must not be from God. True charity has no feigned action. It has no disguised humility. It is not doing what ought to be done with an underlying sense of obligation. If I loved others the way God loves me, I would never do anything out of duty. I would do it with the love I have for my own children. And even that, as selfless as it usually is, doesn't quite compare. Because God loved me enough to give up His only child, and I'm pretty certain I will never be as selfless as that.