The Practice of Love
Today’s reading: Proverbs 3-4; 1 Corinthians 13
27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.
28 Do not say to your neighbor, “Go, and come again, tomorrow I will give it”—when you have it with you. 29 Do not plan evil against your neighbor, who dwells trustingly beside you. Proverbs 3:27-29
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never ends. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
Biblical love expresses itself in practical ways both in what it does and what it avoids.
The wisdom literature of the Bible has a recurring theme of the wicked man versus the godly man (e.g. Psalm 1, Proverbs 1, etc). In Proverbs we see that the godly man is wise and that wisdom grows out of the fear of the Lord. This godly wisdom has both a vertical (God-ward) and horizontal (man-ward) dimension. In relationship to others, wise people are kind and loving. They are not stingy or selfish. They give to others in need without delay or excuse. They never seek to trick their neighbor or take advantage of others.
Paul in his continuing instructions to the Corinthian church points them to the most important quality of a believer, love. He says that great accomplishments, even in the spiritual realm, have no importance if not accompanied by love. He describes love in terms of what it is not and what it is. The positive qualities include “patient and kind” and “rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.” Love is unselfish and enduring. This is the love that only Christ showed perfectly, but it is the love that He calls us to show to others if we would be known as His disciples (John 13:34, 35). The believers in Corinth needed to commit themselves to this kind of love, and so do I.
How are you doing in showing Christlike love to others? Today is a good day to take stock. Make needed changes, either in attitudes, or in actions, or both.