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Becoming Love


Our reading from the Narrative Lectionary this week is 1 Corinthians 13.  Paul has just discussed the various gifts of the spirit, but he wants to refocus the Corinthians on what is really important.  In chapter 13 he explains that all the gifts are worthless without love.  Eventually, when Christ returns they will all pass away and only love will remain eternal.  Today, lets focus on verse 4-7. 

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.

In the original language these are all verbs, and they are all in a verb tense that is present, ongoing, even habitual.  For instance, I may say that the tomatoes in my yard are growing.  It is something that they are doing right now as we speak.  They have been doing it and they will continue doing it.  These descriptions of love should be understood in that way. 

We know that Jesus is love.  Reading the verses again with Jesus replacing the word love reads perfectly well and it rings true:

"Jesus is patient and kind; Jesus does not envy or boast; Jesus is not arrogant or rude. Jesus does not insist on his own way; he is not irritable or resentful; he does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Jesus bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

We also know that one of the fruit of the spirit is love, and God is growing that fruit in us.  So read it again with the word "I" in place of "love":

"I am patient and kind;  I do not envy or boast; I am not arrogant or rude. I do not insist on my own way; I am not irritable or resentful; I do not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoice with the truth.  I bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things."

I know as you read it this way you have internal objections.  Your internal critic screams at you, confronts you with the ways you fall short.  But, it is so important to remember that Love is one of the fruits of the spirit.  Fruits are not instant, my tomatoes are not yet ready to eat, they are still growing. It takes time for a fruit to ripen.  You may read it and feel the need to take action, but fruit does not do anything to grow, all of it's growing comes from the vine.  It is a verb, but it is passive.
 Paul tells us that Love is the most mature of fruits, it is you as your best self.  Instead of reading this and comparing who you are with it, read it and know that this is who God is transforming you into. This is you, as your best self. 

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