Previous posts in the Live Alive series can be found here.
By this point in our brief journey through the description of love in I Corinthians 13, you may be thinking, Alright, that's enough of that. I will be busy enough trying to be patient, kind, not arrogant and rude, and not insisting on my own way. To which I must reply:
But wait! There's more!!
Don't groan; this is good for us! In our alive life in Christ we have a whole new mission: love God and love our neighbor. The hard part is that it doesn't come naturally to us, despite having been saved from out sin. BUT Jesus sent the Spirit to live in us and help and guide us until we are fully glorified with Him. So hang in there with me. If we pursue the way of love as God intends, we will experience even more of the alive life He has given us.
[love] is not irritable or resentful.
I Corinthians 3:5b
I grew up reading the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible which says, it is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. I love how the English Standard Version (ESV) pairs these two and states them so succinctly. To live in love, I must resist being irritable and resentful.
What makes us get irritable and resentful? What are the loving alternatives we need to practice to live alive? To some degree what irritates us is very individual, but the easily-angered response is common to all the situations. What is it that drives us there? Again we come back to the power of our own preference and how we use that to justify treating others cruelly. As a person who is easily angered, I feel qualified to used the word cruelly, because even if we are quiet in our anger it is no less loving toward our neighbor than lashing out at them. Either way we are thinking, I am better than they are and they should know it! Embarrassing to put it in those terms, right?
Resentfulness simply takes that anger and doesn't let it go, keeping a record of wrongs and clinging to bitterness. Sure doesn't sound like there is anything life-giving in that space! Makes me think about the Lord's prayer where Jesus instructs us to pray and forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors. I really want my Lord to forgive my sins all around. It appears clinging to resentment definitely disrupts living alive, by not only how it affects our relationship with our neighbor, but also with God. We cannot be alive, active love-pursuers if we are constantly tripping over our quick anger and falling into our pits of resentment.
This strikes a chord in my heart. Often I am easily angered in situations where the "evil perpetrator" is not commuting any sin against me! A kind word might be enough to get them to stop what they are doing. And how tempting it is to let resentfulness disrupt my relationships with my family, and refuse to treat them compassionately (as I would want for myself). How much I need to grow in faithfulness in this area!
The Gospel helps us so much here. God demonstrates this kind of love for us when we are made alive with Christ. He alone would have the right to be easily angered at how we sin against Him day in and day out with our self-love and lack of trust in Him. He definitely could be justified in resentfulness toward us. I mean, for real. But the Scriptures tell a different story:
Hey! Let's practice being slow to anger and releasing people from our resentfulness. These are the steps of the redeemed: to trust that the Lord's way is the good way and the alive way, and to walk in it. He is our help, strength, and life! I have a feeling Thanksgiving week will give us ample opportunities to draw on His help and ask Him to show up and change our hearts.
You are loved! Live alive!