Previous posts in the Live Alive series can be found here.
Yesterday I shared how alive people put others before themselves, thus living out the second greatest commandment, and the first, too. For as we are obedient to the second - love your neighbor - we live out the first - love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Not absorbed with our own needs, because we know God's got that all in hand, we are able to look to the interests of others.
I promised that we'd get into the nitty-gritty of this loving your neighbor business in subsequent posts, and this is the first subsequent post! As a structure we'll use these verses and take the descriptors of love set-by-set:
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. I Corinthians 13: 4-7Perhaps you've heard these verses at a wedding. They're nice, aren't they? Yeah, till you think about actually living them out and you're like, how in the world?!
Before I go on, a reminder: the only One who ever perfectly lived out this kind of love on earth was Jesus. The Bible says God is love and I talked in an earlier post about how alive people are serious about God's love. His love is the basis for our relationship with Him, for he so loved the world. Without that love, we are lost. Jesus showed us the extent of God's love, (that would be death on a cross).
While living out that love in the world - a love we long for but struggle so much to give and receive - Jesus said to His disciples that he had a new command for them: love one another. The love He was talking about is the love described above.
Another reminder: Jesus sent the Spirit. Alive people rely on that strength to try to live out this kind of love, not their own. You Cannot Love Like This Alone. Please reread that sentence. If you want to have any hope of maturing into this kind of love, you must stay close to the Spirit of God. He's the source of the alive life, every day and always.
With all that background, today we hit patient and kind. These two seem kind of obvious, right? Naturally, we love others when we are patient with and kind to them. But, boy, others sure make it hard to do: a co-worker isn't pulling his weight, a friend never asks how you are doing, a child pushes back in every little thing, a spouse doesn't love you the way you need, a driver cuts you off, etc., etc. At each of those junctures we have a choice: trust God and try to live alive or turn back toward death and live for self.
We not only live out the alive life when we choose patience and kindness, we also come more to life and are filled with praise for the Life Giver. When the Spirit pricks our heart and prompts us to choose God's way, there's a jolt of energy to our faith. Hey, wait a minute, I am "hearing" God speak to me! I am still wrestling with a desire to disobey, because I like me so much, but wow, God is at work in my life. That's incredible. Maybe there's hope for transformation after all.
If that's not enough reason to pursue the live alive, I'll give you one more. Choosing patience and kindness also increases our compassion. You know, because sometimes we're the one in need of patience and kindness. Remembering that we're just as human as the person driving us bonkers or the person who has an inconvenient-for-us need drives us back to how merciful God has been to us. I mean, 'cause seriously, there was nothing convenient for Jesus about his years here on Earth! But love brought Him and love kept Him on the cross.
The alive life of patience and kindness isn't about a grin-and-bear-it and hope-it's-over-quick tolerance, but rather a dependent pursuit of the alive life by practicing patience and kindness with all our neighbors, i.e. anyone God puts in our path. Right at this very moment I am having trouble trying to practice this in my own house with my people, so I'm gonna hop off here and think about this for myself.
For Christ and His glory,