Tuesday, 6 January 2015
…does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 1 Corinthians 13:5
Four more traits of the nature of true love are given from the pen of Paul in this verse. The first is that it “does not behave rudely.” If someone is truly loving toward another, there will be no improper conduct towards that person. There will be due respect for the individual regardless of societal class. There will be an attitude of care regardless of nationality. The amount of money or the type of home a person has won’t be a consideration in how that person is treated. There will always be a tone of decency and propriety in one’s conduct towards others. If these are lacking, then the true heart of love is also lacking.
Love also doesn’t “seek its own.” Instead of self-gratification, there will be a desire to look out for the benefit of others. How often do we attempt to ingratiate ourselves with someone who is well-known or who possesses a certain talent so that we can seem more esteemed in the eyes of another! This isn’t true love, but rather it is identification with someone for personal benefit. To seek the well-being of others for the sakes of their well-being, without any regard for self, shows that the heart is properly directed in that relationship.
Love is also “not provoked.” Some translations say “easily provoked” but this statement is in the absolute sense and so adding the adverb gives a false sense of Paul’s intent. True love overlooks faults, mistakes, misunderstandings, and the like. Rather than being offended or exasperated, love will stand firm and remain strong through the offenses which come from time to time. Love will not allow itself to be provoked.
Finally, Paul tells us that love “thinks no evil.” Instead of looking for others’ actions as suspect, and rather than finding “evil intent” in how people present themselves, love will accept the approaches of others in the best possible light unless there is a sound reason to consider them differently. This is not a naive attitude towards others, but it is giving them the benefit of the doubt in their conduct and actions.
Life application: There are times when we are to carefully consider the actions of others as being suspect. The Lord Jesus told us to be as “wise as serpents” in our interactions. And yet, we need to balance these considerations with a loving attitude. Because we cannot read the hearts and minds of others, we should give them the opportunity to demonstrate their faithfulness without being rude or curt in the process.
Lord, its hard to know the motives of others and misunderstandings can often arise which may cause unnecessary friction. Help me to be wise in my dealings with others, giving them the benefit of the doubt while at the same time not being naive in blindly accepting people who may have evil intent. Its a tough path to walk, but I know that with Your wisdom I will be ready to meet each person with the tools necessary to evaluate them in a loving way. So be with me in this I pray. Amen.