It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV84)
As I delve into this second devotion on love, I can’t help but notice that Paul states a lot of what love is not. That has me wondering, why? Why not just tell us what love is? Why the need to tell us what it is not? Then it hit me. I tend to consider myself a pretty loving guy, but after reading these verses I realize that I often couch my love in these negative personality traits. You see, I can be pretty rude if I think someone is being rude to me. I have to fight to not be self-seeking. I can be easily angered, especially if someone is casting me negatively. And yes, I keep records of wrongs done to me, although I claim to be a forgiving Christian. Ugh!
Paul is telling us that love must stand alone on its positive characteristics and not be disgraced and disfigured by the negative. We were once created to love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul, but sin changed all that. And if we are willing to be honest with ourselves, we would have to admit that sin continues to change that in our lives. So why, then, is Paul making us feel bad in a devotion on love? Why is he reminding us of what’s broken in us? Because we have a God within whom it is not broken. He loves us no matter what. He loves us just as we are. And, the more we focus on His love for us, the less time we spend focusing on ourselves. Have you noticed that most of the negative traits Paul refers to in this chapter come from times when we are self-absorbed. When it is all about me, all the negative traits seem to surface. But when I focus on the fact that Jesus loves me for who I am, flaws and all, and forgives me over and over again for my stupidity, something happens inside me. Then I tend to be more loving and forgiving to those around me. Jesus seems to make the difference in me. No wonder Jesus said, “They will know you are My disciples if you love one another.” When our focus is on the One who is not rude, or self-seeking, or easily angered, or who keeps no record of wrong, we find ourselves focusing on what love truly is.
Today, let’s not be self- absorbed. Let’s not focus on our failures to love as we ought. Let’s just focus on what true love is! Let’s focus on Jesus!