The first fruit we will take a look at in the Bear Fruit series is love. Valentine's day is one of the nation's most commercial holidays. Chocolates, roses, and stuffed animals fly off the shelf faster than lighting. The sad reality is many people don't really understand what true love is. They confuse it with lust and you should know there's a big difference between the two. But before you can show love, let's start by defining it. Merriam Webster's dictionary says love is an "unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as (1): the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2): brotherly concern for others" (there are three definitions of romantic love before this one but we won't focus on them as you teens aren't ready for that type of love at this stage of life). 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says this: "Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends..."
So, how do you show love? My interpretation of Merriam Webster's definition is plain and simple: putting others before yourself. The scripture reference from the 1 Corinthians also breaks it down for us. So let's take it piece-by-piece:
"Love is patient and kind". A practical way for you to show love with your family members and friends is to be patient and kind to them. Let's say they don't respond to you the way you think they should. Does this mean you should fly off the handle and scream at them or call them names? No, it means that they handle things a different way than you. Be patient and kind to them as you don't have a complete picture of why they respond the way they do.
"Love does not envy or boast". When you want something that belongs to someone else so bad that it upsets you, you have a problem. Be confident of the fact that all you need will be given to you in due time. There is no need to be envious of others because what God has for you will suit you just fine. Also, don't pump yourself up too much. No one likes to hear you talk about yourself constantly. It makes your head look too big. Wanting what someone else has to the point of being angry and talking about yourself too much is being inconsiderate of all those around you. Just stop!
"It's not arrogant or rude". I don't even need to tell you about arrogance or rudeness. You should already know. If you think you're "all that and a bag of chips", get a life and some humility. If you think you're better than others (aka God's gift to humanity), let me break it down to you: YOU'RE NOT! We were all created in God's image so bring yourself down a notch. There is nothing more unloving than thinking you're better than someone else and being rude.
"It does not insist on it's on way". This isn't Burger King and you can't have it your way (especially not if you're trying to show love). That's all I have to say about that one because it's self-explanatory.
"It is not irritable or resentful". Whoa, that one hit me pretty hard when I read it the first time. I thought "wait, you expect me to not be irritated?" No, the scripture says "it is not irritable..." meaning love doesn't irritate. When you show love, you don't show irritation. Even when something bothers you, showing love means that you suck it up and do for others without complaining or having a bad attitude about doing it. It says "I value you enough to do this for you (even though I may not want to) because it pleases you". It also doesn't show resentment or anger. If you're angry at someone, find out why and deal with it. Sometimes that's a process.
"It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth". If you see something or someone being done wrong and you don't say/do anything, you're not showing love. As a matter of fact, you're showing hate. Have enough love to say something to someone (an adult or friend) so that others know you care.
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things..." To me, this phrase is a mouthful. Showing love isn't easy. It's a sacrifice. It's hard to bear the burden of a friend that's going through rough times. I can tell you from personal experience that seeing one of my friends battle cancer was tough. Being at the hospital through the first few rounds of chemo took a toll on me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It would have been a lot easier for me to say "I'll keep you in my prayers" and not physically be there through the treatment, bone marrow biopsies, beeping machines, doctors, nurses, needles, IVs, etc. (I did have my life to deal with too) but sacrificial love caused me to give of myself during that time, without expecting anything in return.
Written 1/27/2014 by John Weaver