Today's passage: I Corinthians 13:5
I have always approached these verses, wondering how I can improve in my love for others. I have always looked at them as a checklist to check my charity meter. This week, I have been meditating on how God is all of these verses. In my prayer time, I thank God for being each characteristic of charity, and why I know He is. Then I thank Jesus for being each of these characteristics and then the Holy Spirit. Praising God is easy when you just pray the Scripture and really think about how God embodies it.
"Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;"
Doth not behave itself unseemly... God never behaves inappropriately. He never says a word too many and He never listens to or tells a raunchy joke. We probably apply this sense of decorum to heads of state or monarchs. There is a sense of how to behave, what to wear, how to carry yourself. We think of the majesty of a royal position. God is all those and never pushes the bounds of indecency.
Seeketh not her own...God created us to worship Him. He created us to fellowship with Him. He made us in His image. Yet, most of His Creation refuses to even give Him a thought. If He were to put us under His thumb, He could require us to worship Him as we should. But He gives us free will. And because of that, He allows us to go our own way, separate from Him. He is not going to put us in a headlock until we cry out "Uncle" so that He can acquire our devotion. If He wanted to, He could. If Christ had been selfish, He would never have left Heaven. If He wanted to do only what He wanted to do, He would have told the Father to have somebody else do the job. The Holy Spirit allows God the Father and God the Son to receive all the glory, even though He does an equally important work in our lives. His love for us prevents Him from shining a neon arrow upon Himself to remind us that He is at work as well. I also find it interesting that the pronoun used for charity in this trait is her. In other places in the passage, charity is referred to as it. I am not implying that women have more love than men, but if you think about it, a mother almost always has this quality when it comes to her children, and men are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church. I just think that maybe this quality in charity comes a little more naturally for women and therefore, God chose to use a feminine pronoun. Just an observation.
Is not easily provoked...This is so true of our God. When I think about the times in the Bible that God exercised judgement upon the earth, He always gave fair warning. He did not just react to what was taking place. When He decided to destroy the earth by flood, He had been patient with the wickedness for hundreds of years. Even after he instructs Noah to build the ark, He gives ample time for people to repent, to choose Him. He didn't tell Noah and the next day send rain. When He exiled Israel into captivity, first to the Assyrians, then to the Babylonians, He charged prophet after prophet to warn of what would be coming. He could have destroyed them instantly, but because His righteous anger is a slow burn, He doesn't punish immediately. That idea of lightning striking someone when they have done wrong just does not fit in with this characteristic of God. Jesus was not easily provoked when the Pharisees questioned Him unfairly. He could have zapped them. He could have stricken them with leprosy. If he was a vengeful God, He would have. How many times have I provoked the Holy Spirit? How many times have I told Him no, have I waved Him away, have I hardened my heart against Him? If He was easily provoked, He would just take His presence and leave.
Thinketh no evil...Some people believe that God is sitting up in Heaven hatching up plans for us. Some think that He is sketching out every detail on how to make us more miserable. If God is a God of love, which He is, and these are the characteristics of love, then we know this cannot be true. First of all, God is not capable of evil, but to even think of Him scheming and plotting gives an evil slant to His plans. Christ could have pocketed a ledger with names of those who spit on Him, who challenged His deity, who withheld food or shelter from Him. He could have studied that list and prayed to His Father to allow some unforeseen danger to happen in that person's path. Instead, when we read the Gospels, Jesus is never praying evil on us, only good. He intercedes for us, and an intercessor wants our best, not our worst.
When I think about how God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit embody these qualities of charity, it doesn't make me feel defeated. It might seem that it would, because He is perfect and I am imperfect. He is holy and I am unholy. But because He is living in me, His power becomes my power, His holiness becomes my holiness, His love becomes my love. I have access to this kind of love because He resides in me and so as a by-product, I have His love in me. I can choose to not use it, but I always have access to it, and that is a thought that fills me with hope.