Nothing Is Impossible With God
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
In this well-quoted passage, Paul talks about one of the defining character strengths of God – Love. The first aspect of God’s love is that it is patient. Because of our sin nature, we are naturally impatient. And, in recent times, we have taken this to a new level, almost making it an art form.
We have instant coffee, instant potatoes, microwave ovens, Gbps internet bandwidth, instant banking, instant (fill in the blank). Just about every aspect of our lives denotes the very nature of our impatience. People are so focused on the moment that they fail to take the time to wait in line. On the roads in the United States of America, cars whiz by each other as fast as possible and change lanes without regard to the safety of themselves or others on the same road.
But God is patient, waiting for years – possibly decades – with a full-on assault of kindness and blessing to lead us into repentance with Him. And we can barely stand still long enough to say “Amen!” when a prayer is offered. Patience is a lost art in the Western world. Yet it is the very first characteristic of love that is delineated by Paul in this great treatise on love.
Keeping up Kindness
It’s the little things in life that make the day go by easier and more smoothly. Kindness is listed next in the characteristics of Godly love. The primitive church disciples of Christ were known as chrestos, or kind-ones. It was mistakenly believed that they were being called Christians because they followed Christ. In reality, they were just so kind, that they stood apart from the world.
The chrestos ministered to a dying world in an amazing way. When Roman citizens would throw their babies into the river to get rid of them, the chrestos went into the river, rescued them, and raised them as their own children. When plague and sickness invaded cities, everyone fled, but the chrestos rushed in, providing comfort and care to those who were suffering, often dying of the very diseases that they were helping others to overcome. Such was the life of kindness displayed in the primitive church.
Having said what love was, Paul now tells us what love is not. Love is not envious. Envy is a terrible sin. Desiring the property, relationships, wealth, position, status, authority, or anything else of someone else is effectively saying that God made a mistake in not providing it to you. Since God does not make mistakes, it is we who make the mistake when we desire what we do not have.
We also have the desire to promote ourselves, rather than God. We seek to lay claim to His glory as our own, for it is God who enables us to do all things. Nothing that we do is done solely by us, but rather with the express prior permission, provision, and protection of God. We cannot take a breath of air without His help. Christ holds all things together, and created all things.
When we boast, we are in effect saying that by our own ability something was accomplished. Yet anything done without the power and provision of God is hay and stubble, tainted by the very nature of sin that now threatens to usurp God’s rightful claim to glory and praise. If we must boast in something, let it be in our weakness, for when we are weak, God is strong.
The three main threats we encounter in our sinful nature are the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Pride is the seed and root of boasting, believing that we are the authors of our own destinies. Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. We are setting ourselves us for failure when we buy into the belief that we are the authors of anything good.
God alone is good, and we need Him to help us accomplish anything worthy of praise. And because of our dependence upon Him, we can rightfully give all glory and honor to God. Since God and God alone is worthy of all praise and glory, it is right to give it all to Him. The Bible says that we will be tested by our praise. Let us remember the source of all our power, energy, strength, and ability – The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the vine. We are merely the branches, drawing life from the root of the plant.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I demonstrating the love of God to others, or am I adhering to the cultural norms?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, You have demonstrated Your love for us, in that You sent Your One and only Son, Jesus Christ, to bear the punishment for our sins. Help me this day, Father, to bear Your image properly. Help me to see others as You see them, and to love others as You love them. Show me how to shed the attitudes of culture so that I can embrace Your character instead. Guard my heart against the desire to promote myself, and help me to promote Jesus instead. Let my life be a testament to Your glory, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the supernatural power that You have to free us from the bondage of sin. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
This blog has been edited for spelling errors.