“Love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud”
1 Corinthians 13: 4
When love takes its full place in any group such as a family, a church or a community, then those in that group can live in joy and be productive, or, if necessary, it can be rebuilt. Love replaces endless rivalries, grudges and jealousies. In fact, if love lives in each member of a family, a church family, or a community the right answers will come when difficult decisions must be made, because there exists an intelligibility in love. Right answers to difficult and decisive questions will come, because it is not about who is right and who is wrong on a divisive issue. When love is guiding our decisions then right answers and correct loving behavior will help the family, the church or the community grow in love.
Richard Hay once wrote that, “love gives meaning to an otherwise unintelligible world”.
That helps me more fully understand that love is absolutely necessary in our families, in our churches and our communities. When love rules in a group of people, rivalries, divisiveness, grudge and jealousies do not control the work, or actions of the group or any individual members of the group.
Trust and faith in each other develops because of love guiding the thoughts and actions of everyone in the group.
I recall times when our boys were entering their teen years, sometimes as parents we had to sit down and talk seriously about their recreational activities that they wanted to participate in, and how important their participation might be or may not be in those activities.
Making sure we approached those conversations out of our love for them was paramount to their understanding of where we were coming from. It helped them know that we were thinking first and foremost of them rather than just laying down a rule. It meant that we always needed to know how they felt about that activity and how important it was to all those participating in it. It meant that we had to know what they were seeing and feeling.
One thing that love depends on is a clear understanding of each other that shares our feelings, our caring for each other, as well as our fears and our hopes for each other. It seemed that when we kept these concerns at the forefront of our conversations we gained a better understanding of each other and love prevailed in seeking the right answers for us as a family. This takes time and cannot be rushed through because everyone has to believe that the right answer to the question at hand has been reached.
That’s why Paul said that “love is patient and kind.”
Paul wanted the church at Corinth to learn how their love for each other would grow their ministry and the spiritual life of each person in their congregation. We all need to learn that lesson and begin to see the effect of love on all of our relationships. Help us Lord to love as you love.
- If we read all of 1 Corinthians chapter 13, we see that Paul give us several characteristics of love. Which ones enlighten you most as it relates to the relationships with others that you have in your life right now?
- What difference does it make for you when you see your life with others as a Christian journey where you and others learn how to love?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.