Thursday, October 30, 2008

Loving God, Loving Others

Reading 1 Corinthians 13 does it for me. Going through Mary Kassian's study has done it. Reading & responding to the 50+ comments on the last post (that are no longer up) did it. Being around irritating or difficult people does it. Even being at home, with the people I love and treasure, does it. What is "it"?

"It" is: forcing me to really see how little I resemble God, and how little I truly LOVE God. As I read through 1 Corinthians 13, it easily becomes a checklist for self-examination:

  • Do I focus on speaking well, but lack love?
  • Do I have insight, knowledge, and even faith, but lack love?
  • Do I give generously & even live radically for God and yet lack love?
  • Am I patient and kind towards others, both the easy-to-love and the less-easy-to-love people around me?
  • Do I compare myself with others, either envying or boasting?
  • Am I arrogant or rude, essentially puffing up myself and/or putting down others?
  • Am I convinced that my way is the only right way?
  • Do I get easily irritated with others? Am I resentful?
  • Am I entertained, excited, or delighted by sin, or by the truth?
  • Do I put up with difficulties, or am I weak and whiny when it comes to suffering?
  • Do I believe and trust, or am I suspicious?
  • Do I hope, or am I shaky, anxious, and uncertain?
  • Do I endure (am I reliable?) or do I give in and give up?
Boy, do I fall short! On almost every single question, I answer the wrong way. It is painful to see just how unloving I really and truly am.

Honestly, y'all, these last few weeks have been chock-full of God's gentle, yet firm and in-my-face, showcasing of my failings. He's doing it, I'm confident, to change me. To bring me low so that I won't walk in pride or even come close to thinking that I have it all together. To show me that He loves me enough to keep softening my rough edges. But, as a form of public confession, here are some of the things He's bringing to mind:
  • I am, all too often, irritable towards my husband.
  • I'm impatient with my children.
  • I am unkind in my heart, mind, and words towards others who are different (as seen here at MH this week).
  • I care far too much about the perceptions of others... I want to be seen as smart, fun, insightful, and desirable-as-a-friend... not a critical, grumpy know-it-all.
  • I think my way is the best way, almost all the time... whether we're talking about editing a brochure or making lasagne or raising kids or folding laundry or whatever.
  • Plain and simple: I lack love.
Pretty convicting. And embarrassing. But what a precious thing to have a Father that doesn't just let me stay like I am-- but One who is willing to hurt me and wound my heart as He points out my sin so that, in the long run, I will hopefully be more and more like Him. One who is willing to break me so that I will rely on His wisdom instead of my own. One who knows--better than I do-- what I need.

And what I need is love.

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