Last week we began looking at 1 Corinthians 13 to see if we are loving others well. This list continues with more questions from the passage to help you discern how well you are loving the people around you.
1. Am I irritable?
According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, to be irritable means “to stir to anger.” It’s closely tied to impatience but seems to have a more explosive tone. Are you irritable? Do things make you frustrated or angry? Do you rise quickly in emotion, even with small and unimportant things? Are you characterized by calmness or emotional instability? When we’re irritable, we’re not charitable. We’re not giving the benefit of the doubt, but allowing our emotions to ooze out negatively onto those around us. This is clearly not a mark of love.
2. Am I resentful?
Being resentful means you’re holding a grudge against someone. I’ve found that though I am capable of harboring resentment for things done against me, it is far easier to resent someone for harm done to my husband and children. Are you resentful toward someone because of long past sins against you or your family? Are you frustrated with someone because of more recent harm they’ve done to you? Do you practice forgiveness? Or do you rehearse the wrongs done against you repeatedly in your mind so that you’re always dwelling on it? Do you treat some people different because of your history with them?
While you don’t always have to have a super close relationship with those who have hurt you, Jesus does call us to forgive those who hurt us. We look to Jesus who was tortured and killed but still offered forgiveness as our example. This is often an issue of our thoughts which overflow into feelings. Take control of your thoughts and turn them from rehearsing wrongs to practicing prayer and forgiveness.
3. Do I rejoice at wrongdoing or do I rejoice with the truth?
At first glance, you say- of course I rejoice with the truth. I don’t like to see when people do wrong. I like it when good things, not bad things happen. Is that true in your attitude toward your coworkers? Do you sulk when someone gets a promotion over you even if they deserve it more? Do you take pleasure when there is a financial mistake in your favor and fail to bring it to the other party’s attention? Does your joy increase when justice is served, even when it may cost you? If we love others, we will rejoice when true, just and righteous things happen.
4. Do I bear all things?
Since everyone does wrong, the people you love will hurt you. Here in 1 Corinthians 13 we see what our response should be when that happens. Do you bear all things? Are you able to forgive when you are hurt? I’m not talking about abusive situations here. In an abusive situation, you absolutely need to get to a safe space and deal with those issues. But when it comes to more small and minor issues, do you insist on telling everyone when someone does something that hurts you or do you work to overlook offenses? Are you able to overlook the sins of your spouse or do you have to point them all out? What about with your children? Do you bear all things in patience with them? We need to stand up for what is right, and one of the most loving things you can do for another is confront their sin. As we do this, though, it should be with kindness and humility and with a desire to lovingly forgive any sin that is done toward us.
5. Do I believe all things?
Sometimes we read the things on this list and we’ve heard them so many times, we just skip over them. So do you believe all things? -Clearly this is in this list and I should, so the answer is yes. Wait. What did you just agree to? Think about what this means. Is this saying you believe everything you hear, read or see? Of course not! We shouldn’t believe everything we input. So what is this saying? Do we believe all true things? We should be evaluating the validity of a claim before we believe it. According to Gordon Fee as quoted in the Pillar New Testament Commentary, it’s not that we only believe the best about everyone and everything, but that we always believe in God that He will take care of us as we obey Him. Since God tells us to love others, even if we get hurt, we can still trust Him to take care of us as we do that. So are you trusting God as you love others or do you hold back love to try to protect yourself?
6. Do I hope all things?
Do I look forward to what Christ says is coming with positivity? The NIV says love “always hopes.” This is partially about continuing to believe that Jesus will come back and some day take us to heaven to be with Him forever. So are you always hoping in His promises about the future? You can also always hope that if you’re a believer, you will continue to increase in sanctification, as will the other believers around you. Sometimes it’s hard to hope that a fellow Christian will stop sinning in a certain way toward you, but if you love them, you should always have hope for the future. Instead of being exasperated with them or the world around us, we need to hope for a future that will be better. As the hope you have in Christ for your future becomes more sure, you can take more risk as you love the people you’re around.
7. Do I endure all things?
Do you keep going when things are hard? In your relationships, are you quick to walk away and burn the bridge or are you patient and forgiving, wanting to hold on to the friendship? Again, there are some times when you’re in an unhealthy relationship that you absolutely should walk away from, but is that the pattern of all your relationships? How are you doing as you attempt to endure in love toward others? Do you have friends that you’ve been friends with for 2 years or more? Or are all your friendships new and constantly changing?
These are just a few ways that love exhibits itself in a believer’s life. Who are you having the most trouble loving in this way? Ask God to grow your love for that person today. Practice thinking well of them and pray through each of these marks of love. Lord, let us grow in our love for one another so that the watching world will see that we’re truly your disciples.