02242016_RobinDance_Love

There’s little doubt that familiarity breeds contempt, but recently I found myself wondering if familiarity can breed contempt even when it comes to Scripture. (Gasp!)

There’s part of me that scolds myself — a heretic at best, guilty of apostasy or blasphemy at worst — but if you hear me out, maybe you can identify? When I’m brutally honest with myself, I see how easily it can happen. It’s not a matter of disdain or unbelief, but more a case of having read or heard “go-to” passages so many times, you gloss over it or think there’s nothing new to learn or that you already know it all as it relates to that verse or this chapter.

But here’s the kicker: we might not even realize we feel that way. It’s as subtle as speed-reading through familiar words or skipping a section altogether because you “know” it so well.  Oh, our enemy is a wily one.

I was thinking on this because I had sensed that Holy Spirit tug to write about 1 Corinthians 13, the greatest treatise on “love” ever penned. I’d wager even new believers or unbelievers immediately think Love is patient, love is kind, upon hearing the Scripture reference. It felt incredibly cliché to write about love during the month we celebrate Valentine’s Day, except . . . except . . . the battle in my head and heart was so fierce, it seemed important to listen.

Why would God want me to write about love? And perhaps a more telling question, why would our enemy not want me to write about love?

When I realized the simple answer to both questions was identical, the wrestle was over: 

There are important things we need to know and/or remember about love.

Try to read the following words as if you’re seeing them for the very first timeTry.

Love . . .

is patient and kind

does not envy or boast

isn’t arrogant or rude

doesn’t insist on its own way

isn’t irritable or resentful

doesn’t rejoice at wrongdoing

rejoices with the truth

bears all things

believes all things

hopes all things

endures all things

Love never ends . . .

{1 Corinthians 13:4-7 ESV}

Throughout the entire chapter, love is seen through the lens of demonstrable action, not emotion.

Love is something we do, not (just) feel.

This is a game changer. In 1 Corinthians, Paul provides a beautiful way for the church to love others when we’ve been wronged or wounded.

Love, when companioned by emotional attachment, affectionate connection, and deep feeling is a precious thing. It’s what first draws us to our mate. It’s what binds us to our children. It’s the thread that knits together the most special of friendships.

It’s rare and at times elusive.

But at all times — and regardless of circumstances — we’re called to love others {see John 13:34-35 and 1 John 4:7-21}. And not just others, we’re called to love our enemies {see Matthew 5:43-48}!

How loving do you feel when your teenage children defy and disobey you? When a friend betrays your confidence? When a co-worker undermines your decisions? When your spouse leaves your marriage and your family in shambles?

How can you love then?

There is a way to love and that’s following The Way and how He loved.

I don’t know if Jesus felt love for the people who failed Him and treated Him horrifically, but we do have a glimpse into how He demonstrated His love —

“. . . but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” {Romans 5:8}

Who in your life is making it difficult for you to love them? Can I ask you to try something? Re-read 1 Corinthians 13 and practice the ways you can show love to the hurtful people in your life.

When you don’t feel love, you can be patient and kind. You can be humble and deferent and enduring. I know it isn’t easy, but it is simple; “love” is spelled out for us in a list of 15 things we can either do or restrain ourselves from doing. Of course, 1 Corinthians 13 isn’t the only Scripture that teaches us about love, but it’s revolutionary once we begin practicing what Paul is preaching.

Who have you been withholding love from because you don’t feel love toward that person? (I can think of a few in my own life.) Thanks be to our Lord who loves us enough, not just to command us to love others, but to make a way for us to love people, and in doing so, live out the Gospel.

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  • Jas

    Beautiful.. I’ve always loved this passage as a kid and used it in our wedding vows. However I’m glad you said read it with fresh eyes as it is really hard to feel or understand the true meaning when you know it off by heart. Thank you for this reminder and little exercise to use the passage as a road map when loving the ones wefind difficult or different in our lives. I especially love how you have pointed out love is an action and not a feeling…to show love, is the action. I needed to hear this . Thank you

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      It’s so hard not to think we know it all when a passage is so familiar. Glad to prompt a fresh reading of important words, Jas :)

  • Bev @ Walking Well With God

    Robin,
    Just like you, when I think I “know” a passage of scripture the enemy tempts me to skim. God’s word, as you pointed out, is alive and living. It ALWAYS has something to offer us. If our moment in time is different, then there is always something new we can draw from a familiar scripture. I am a very “feeling” oriented person, but feelings can be so deceptive. I needed this reminder that love is an action, not just a feeling. God calls us to love even when our emotions and feelings say otherwise. Great post…I’m glad you followed God’s urging…I needed this!
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Thank you, friend.

  • Katie Landers

    Thank you so much for this precious reminder to dig back into scripture with new perspective and to love even when my feelings don’t feel like it. I like your two-fold question about why God wanted you to write about this topic and why the devil did not want you to write it….we often forget to ponder the reasons our enemy may not want us to use our gifts to share our hearts but that pondering can lead us to even greater desire and understanding of why God wants us to share our thoughts and gifts. Thanks!

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      I’m in a season where I’m very aware of satan’s desire to defeat us; it serves me well to remind myself often who my enemy is.

  • Mo

    Sure could relate to this devo. Been struggling w/ the same issues. God has been using Col. 3:12-14 with me, same thought. Above all put on charity…easy to read, harder to do. Command all the same. Disobedience when you get right down to it, which is sin. I feel the war in my members…to know to do good and not do it, James 4:17. I want to do it God’s way, appreciate your prayers.

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Prayed when I read your comment, Mo…and again this morning.

      • Mo

        Knowing you are praying is such a comfort to me. I read about Jesus being meek & lowly, describing His behavior. That’s my prayer, to behave like Him. He sees into my heart…where my motives & heart behavior don’t always match my speech – much less His words and commands. Have a relationship where it feels impossible to love (God has shown me that I had an unrealistic expectation) But that’s the rub…feeling like you said. Pray for God to transform my heart, please. I wanna love as He loves – nothing held back, unconditionally.

  • http://www.aringingbell.com Kate @ A Ringing Bell

    The kids and I were just reading this morning that Paul pointed out the LOVE and FAITH of the Colossians. He had heard these two things about them. We prayed this morning that our family would be known for the same. Isn’t it grand to know that He is the one producing fruit in us, giving us the ability to love, and providing the way to faith? We can’t muster any of that up – it’s all because of His good work in us. Feels so good to know that. Sweet reminder. Many thanks, Kate :)

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      What a precious family prayer, Kate. My babies aren’t with me most of the time (they’re older) but it’s a good prompt to pray this over them, too :).

  • Gail Noe

    Thank you for sharing. Amazing miracle how God fills us with His love. BUT for me His love in me hit a roadblock. After much prayer and seeking God’s face, I learned that the very deep rooted hurt and pain in me caused in childhood had produced a root that kept surfacing and creating problems. I first need to deal with the root. I was living with the pain and the fear connected to it, until the Lord in His grace reached my heart and let me know He could/would heal!!! I can make a choice to forgive those who hurt. This also caused a difficulty as I discovered I could not totally forgive without God’s grace. In 2 Cor. 9:12, God assured me His grace is sufficient for ALL my weaknesses. I am learning this is a process, but in the end through Christ, I triumph over my enemies!!!

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      It sounds like you’ve grown so much, Gail. Much wisdom in identifying this painful root, and dealing with it. I’m proud of you.

  • Joanne Peterson

    Robin,
    You nailed it. Love IS a choice, I love because love is necessary, and I need to express it in a way the other person feels cherished. I need to deal with my emotions and love even when I don’t feel like it, or take a time-out and get my bearings and still love them even if they are acting less than ideal. I NEED to love my kids and my husband better, and an educator better. I get in the way of loving my family as God wants me to love them. You have given me fresh eyes, and more acute hearing ears, and a change of heart with the way you wrote this devotional. I am responsible for my choices, attitudes, and if I’m wallowing in my emotions, or withholding affection because I’m feeling…….whatever emotion. Big, heavy sigh. Time to stop circling the mountain and just do it. How much of me is contributing to a rift, or people feeling a lack of love in the relationship?
    Blessings,
    Joanne

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Wisdom and perspective comes in baby steps. I see your feet moving forward. :)

  • Lynn Warren

    Dear Robin ~~ You begin by wondering why God would want you to write about this? Well, let me first thank Him from the bottom of my heart, because He certainly used it to correct this child of His!! Wow, was I convicted!! I am normally the “peacemaker” in any given situation, but lately I have become so guilty of letting others’ shortcomings, or my perception of them, get the best of me and reacting negatively instead of building up. This most noticeably in my reaction to my husband and daughter, two of the closest people to me, but there’s the rub, eh? I was actually becoming relieved that neither of them was “bothering me” with their “shortcomings,” but now I see that it is because my reactions are less than, if at all, filled with love or compassion. God forgive me, Holy Spirit counsel me, and dear Lord Jesus thank you! Thank you, Robin. In Christ!

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Lynn, your comment was/is a blessing to me, Lynn. If the Lord prompted me to write for the benefit of another? A precious gift indeed. (thank you)

  • Pam

    This is wonderful. What an eye opener. Thank you!

  • Andrea Garrett McCaskey

    So glad you followed through and wrote this post. First, I realized I have not been showing love in all these ways, especially to my husband. Second, I’ve been wanting to “feel” God move in me rather than “experiencing” the ways he is moving. Thank you for the new insight.

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Oh, I WANT to feel God…but if I relied on my feelings, I’d be sunk most of the time :).

  • Wini Schiemann

    I like to consider love as a feeling & demonstrated by action. Your article is a precious one. I was honored in reading this scripture at a son’s wedding.
    A friend once told me that he was going to write a book titled, Love is a Four Letter Word.

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Ha–I’ve said that very phrase many a time :).

  • Rebecca Jones

    You are neither, heretic,apostate or blasphemer. It’s good to re-examine the old stand by verses, Romans 3:23 is one you only hear half of. If we are to above certain behaviors we will have to be refreshed and focus on Jesus. I’m still amazed he could keep His mouth shut as a Lamb to slaughter, but He had to for us. Sometimes we should be quiet for Him and before Him. It is easy to love people who love us, it those unlovely ones that get to you. While Jesus loved everybody, I’m sure the human part of Him must have preferred some disciples, they argued a lot. He died for everyone, yet not everyone will believe, He had to be thinking of those who would. Thanks for the list of 15 do’s or restraints. I’ve done the does, I’ll try the restraint.

  • Sarah Sandifer

    Well. How funny is the Lord? I just locked my 2 and 4 year old in their room together because I just, for the love, needed a single second. I could feel the nastiness in my heart so jumped over to incourage thinking y’all would help nudge me toward the Lord, and as I slowly read the words on love I felt immediate remorse when I read “it isn’t irritable or resentful…” How irritable I had been with my girls just seconds prior. Thank you for being the Lord’s mouthpiece today!

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Oh, dear, Sarah…is it okay if I smiled at your comment? It’s HARD momming and our little darlings can push all the buttons! But they learn so much by the way you love them, by admitting if you responded in a way you aren’t proud of. So very thankful to have encouraged you in that moment. I’m honored!

  • Anna Smit

    Such interesting thoughts here. A friend of mine wrote a blog post on the fruit of the Spirit of “goodness”, defining it as Christ in us and the hope of glory. And pointed out that our feelings denote our brokenness, while goodness in us denotes Christ in us. And she pointed out that we are not defined by our feelings, but by Christ.

    This so fits with what you shared here. And it also fits with what I’ve felt impressed upon my heart: that we feed and clothe others with God’s love and grace and visit them with God’s Presence when we lean into Him in our brokenness and He whispers His desires and invitations into us. Then the actions of love we complete in response to His whispers become food, clothing and visits to His hungry, poor, sick and imprisoned children. And through this pouring out of His Love through us, He fills us with His Joy as we behold His Love as we live and move and have our being in Him.

    Thank you for sharing what God gifted you with us here.

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Write away, Anna. It’s cool to have a window into others’ thoughts.

  • http://www.impartinggrace.com/ Richella Parham

    Oh, dear Robin, thank you for risking being branded a heretic. I think you are quite right; familiarity can certainly breed contempt if we’re not on guard against it. As you said, our enemy is a wily one.

    But oh, to take a fresh look at I Corinthians 13. Thank you for the challenge and for the guidance in looking at it afresh and in a way that’s neither syrupy or intended to arouse feelings of guilt. (Ask me how I know about those!)

    Considered the way you present it, one can actually believe: amor vincit omnia. Dear Lord, help us to be vessels of this kind of love!

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Richella,

      I love it when you speak Latin to me ;) :) <3

  • Beth Williams

    Robin,
    What an intriguing way to look at this scripture and Love. We can all use new perspectives when reading familiar passages. What hits me when I read 1 Cor. 13:4-7 is the saying “actions speak louder than words”. I find that doing small/simple tasks for people speaks volumes. I know it does for me. “Show me you love me”. Spend time with me, send me cards, pray for me. There are a few people in my life that can be hard to love, but with God nothing is impossible, God is gracious and kind to give us what we need to be able to love them!

    Blessings :)

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Beth,

      You always have a way with fleshing out your thoughts; thank you for taking time to share yet again. :)

  • Jas

    Robin, I had to comment again as your words have stayed with me days later and by quoting your “love is not irritated” or love is an action etc has honestly helped me not to react and has helped our relationship immensely with a dear family member who is staying with us at the moment and it is such an important relationship to me and also intense or a pressured environment when family come to stay once a year, I prayed and keep praying and well God spoke to me through your words, it’s pretty amazing. I’m glad you wrote this piece, it’s made a real impact, thank you!!

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Jas!! Again, you bless ME. I think the Lord used my pen to speak to a lot of us (me, included) :). I’m praying for you this morning.

  • http://lauriewallin.com/ Laurie Wallin

    I disagree. It is absolutely a choice, but I spent 17 years in a marriage where love was something I did with someone who didn’t do it back. I love without expecting return. I gave without expecting return. I raised our kids without expecting return. And I ended up suicidal because it is not something the heart can manage, a lifetime of not feeling loved. I think the danger to us as protestant Christians, especially for people who want to do the right thing and end up in situations like I found myself in, is that we preach over and over again that love’s a doing without feeling, and that ignores the fact that there is also abundance to this life… and God’s desire that we experience joy. So, yes to this reminder. But to anyone here like me, who clicked on this link because you’ve been through enough hurt in your life that you need to be reminded to keep going without feeling, I hope that we can all remember that there is a balance in this life. And it is a balance God designed and desires for us.

    • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

      Oh, Laurie….{{hugs}}. When I read your comment initially, I just wished we could sit together and me listen to your story. My intent in writing was never to deny feelings; perhaps better said not to be governed by them. It was dealing with one particular aspect of love, one of action. Praying grace, wisdom, and peace over you (and me, for that matter, too!) :).

  • http://www.pensieve.me/ Robin Dance

    Hey lovies!! My apologies for taking so long to respond. When work wasn’t requiring my time, It held my brain power hostage :). I’ve been keeping up via email just unable to reply before now (thanks for your grace and understanding).