Reflections on compassion
Love does not demand its own way.
I Corinthians 13:5b
My husband was baking chocolate chip cookies the other day. Baking is not his thing, but I was not available that day and he needed cookies. He complained that the cookies weren’t as good as usual – okay, but not really good. It didn’t really matter, because the youth group will eat anything sweet. But as I questioned him on what he had done, I was reminded of the variations that can make a difference in chocolate chip cookies: butter vs. Crisco VS, a combination. Chilling the batter vs. not chilling the batter, adding more flour or using just the amount in the traditional recipe. All the variations will result in good cookies – but there will probably be one that you like the most. Many folks insist that the way they prefer is the only way – The scriptures tell us that love does not insist on its own way. Many ways work just fine and we need to be accepting that other people’s way will work, even if it is not what we would chose.
Love is not irritable
I Corinthians 13:5c
I had a rough week-end recently. I left the hospital at 4:30 on Friday to drive to Raleigh, NC to retrieve a now functioning car and back before I had to preach a Sunday church service at 11:00 am. I was tired. I was very tired of being in the car. I discovered the car’s air conditioner is only good in temps below 85 or so. I was in North Carolina and it was 95. Not a good combination. Into that reality I am reminded that love is not irritable. AS people we sometimes feel we are entitled to be irritable. Some days are hard and our tempers fray, but what we know is that as people who are called to care being irritable is not on our list of acceptable behaviors.
Love keeps no record of being wronged
I Corinthians 13:5d
Do you keep track of how often you are taken advantage of? Do you know whose turn it is to pay or to call? Love keeps no record of being wronged. That does not come naturally to most of us – we remember who has done us wrong or taken advantage of us. While love doesn’t say we should always let people take advantage of us – it does say that we need to be willing to forgive and move on. It isn’t easy, but it makes the world a better place.
Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
I Corinthians 13:6
“That’s not fair!” That is a frequent cry among children and we can understand why. We want things to be fair. We want the good guy to win. We want everything to work out. We are called to be people who rejoice in justice and truth. Sometimes we equate fairness with justice, but it really isn’t the same. Fairness means that everyone gets the same amount. Justice is that everyone gets what they need.
Love never gives up
I Corinthians 13:7a
Do you have days that you are just ready to give up? Days when the demands you face just seem more than you can bear. Or the person you are working with or love just can’t seem to manage doing the right things. There are certainly times that it seems like giving up is the only option, but in reality love never gives up, it does one more step, one more time, one more try…that is the reality of love and compassion.
Love never loses faith
I Corinthians 13:7b
Faith means complete trust or confidence in someone or something. What do you have faith in? Yourself, your family, God? Your faith needs to be in something that really matters and will last. Place your faith in love and hold it tight.
Love is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance
I Corinthians 13:7c
Hope is not the same as wishful thinking. Hope requires participating in the work of what you hope for. When we talk about love being hopeful and enduring it means that love doesn’t quit just because the going got rough. Love is something that doesn’t doesn’t let discouragement get in the way of what needs to be done. Are there days when you want to just quit, days that keeping going is too hard. Of course, we all experience those days. But if we are committed to something important in our lives that allows us to continue to endure.