“Be” Versus “Happens”

In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a Paul describes love.  Note closely he doesn’t write to BE loving, but rather love IS…

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.

I don’t think it is possible to will into our own lives substantive character change… because we’re fallen sinners.  If Paul had written, “BE this way,” I’d rather tear this out of Scripture because it is impossible to will BEING what he describes.  I’m of the opinion that the ONLY way we can become loving is to have an overpowering experience of love happen TO us.  The only way I can approach being humble is as I have been humbled.

Are you getting the point I’m making?

I believe when Paul wrote 1 Cor 13 he had Jesus in mind.  I believe his point is that as we have an encounter with Jesus’ love toward us… as described in the passage… THEN we are transformed and live out what we’ve experienced.

I’ve found that I am much more likely to show mercy when I’ve been shown mercy.  I’m much more likely to be patient with others when people have been patient toward me.  I desire to forgive when I’ve experienced forgiveness.  I am able to love unconditionally when I have experienced unconditional love.  Paul even wrote, “Forgive as God in Christ has fogiven you!” (Col 3:13).

Thus the only way any person is transformed is to have an encounter with the risen Christ.  The only way a person is continually transformed into the image of Christ is as they have an ongoing encounter with the risen Christ.  And this much is sure, those who God has saved WILL experience these things according to Romans 8:29.

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One comment on ““Be” Versus “Happens”

  1. tammie says:

    Good words. Hard to practice in a godly way, but necessary.

    “I don’t think it is possible to will into our own lives substantive character change… because we’re fallen sinners.” I agree with that emphatically. However, I never thought of applying it to 1 corinthians 13. I know that I cannot love others–especially those with animosity–as he loves me without his grace and strength and love flowing through me.

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