By Phillip Lynch
Sometimes I’m amazed at how dense I can be! I’ve been reading the Bible regularly for the past 40 years, but it was only yesterday that something so elementary struck me that I wondered where my head had been the past four decades.
I’ve been bothered recently by what a raw deal God usually gets. In many of the books I’ve read and the television shows and movies I’ve watched, it seems that whenever God comes up, He is portrayed as hard and unyielding, even mean. I was getting tired of this portrayal because it simply doesn’t match up with the God I know. At the same time, I admit that I have myself also occasionally wondered about God’s goodness—not so much whether He was good, but rather if I was the only one somehow missing out on it. But even when battling with my own questions about God’s justness, I knew that these other portrayals were grossly unfair.
I was thinking about this and how God must get fed up with humanity’s grumblings and accusations, when the words came to me, “Love endures long and is patient and kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4 AMP) I recognized them immediately as part of Apostle Paul’s famous discourse on love. Then I was reminded of how John the Beloved captured the essence of God’s nature in three simple words: “God is love.” (1 John 4:8) It struck me that the passage in 1 Corinthians was also describing God.
What a God! He puts up with us because it is in His nature to. His justice and righteousness are tempered with infinite patience, kindness, forbearance, and a readiness to always believe the best about each of us. He is a God who endures all that we unjustly throw at Him; He isn’t conceited, arrogant, rude, unbecoming, self-seeking, touchy, fretful, resentful, or vengeful. He is a God who will freely and graciously give us all things. (See Romans 8:32)
What struck me the hardest was that while I was pointing to specks of dust in the eyes of these authors and scriptwriters who I thought were giving God such a raw deal, I was excusing the log in my own eye when I complained to God about His “neglecting” me. As I said, I can be dense.
Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye but do not notice or consider the beam [of timber] that is in your own eye? … First take the beam out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye.—Jesus, Luke 6:41–42 AMP
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The Nature of God
Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily.
It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong].
It does not rejoice at injustice and unrighteousness, but rejoices when right and truth prevail.
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening].
Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy ([a]the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth].
—Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:4–8 AMP
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