Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (1 Cor. 10: 4-8 NIV)
How many times did I read this passage and groan. How many times did I wonder if I’d ever get this right? How many times did I feel that everyone was getting this but me–such a failure.
Not until I began to understand the abiding life–Christ in me, the hope of glory (Col. 1:27), did I finally get it–I can’t do any part of 1 Cor. 13. Apart from Christ I can do nothing! He said that, not me! Why do I still fall into the trap of thinking that I can do anything at all on my own? And how many times have I heard this subject in sermons and Bible studies and been guilted to death.
So, if I can’t do any part of this—if my own love is always going to fall short of this high standard (like the Proverbs 31 passage you know, that every woman avoids), then what? Did Jesus put this here just to guilt us? If this is what real love is, then only He could actually do it, right?
Exactly! But how do I move from point A—trying and failing to live up to this; to point B—actually experiencing this in my reality. As Beth Moore likes to say—when my theology matches my reality. Or as Oswald Chambers so often reminds us, this “working out of our theology in actuality.”
So, actually, how does this happen?
It happens in the exchanged life. It happens when I exchange my feelings for His. Sounds simple enough in theory. Not so simple in reality. But—it is possible.
Here’s an example: I have two situations right now with people very close to me. One of these persons is more or less dependent on me and looks to me for just company, someone to talk to, help with their little daily life stuff and oftentimes this person needs attention when I am least able to give it. I found myself becoming impatient, resentful, irritable—always having to stop right in the middle of a thought or chore to sit down and visit.
I love this person very much. I didn’t want to be impatient and in a hurry to rush them out the door, but my emotions would not cooperate with what I knew was right and it was making me feel awful—guilty—shamed. One day, reading in the Gospel accounts where the needy multitudes discovered where Jesus was, at the very time He was trying to get away to pray, I saw something really beautiful. He had just learned that His cousin John the Baptist had been beheaded. He was headed up the mountain to be alone and pray. Then He saw the multitudes and it says He was “moved with compassion.” They seemed to Him as sheep without a Shepherd. The Shepherd laid aside His own grief and sat down with the sheep, because He was moved with compassion. He wasn’t irritated that they wouldn’t leave Him alone even when He needed to grieve.
When I saw this I thought, “O Lord, I so want this kind of compassion. Not my human compassion that I exhibit only when it is convenient for me, or when I can find the time, but this kind of compassion—supernatural, above-the-line, eternal compassion.” And then, I did the simplest thing. I took my very human, very weak emotional compassion and handed it up to Him. I said, “Can I exchange this for Yours? I would like to just hand You this very limited and faulty thing I call compassion, and I will receive Yours in exchange.”
That is all I said; that is all I did. Shortly after, this very beloved person came in and my heart was not only filled with compassion, it was filled with joy at being able to spend time with them and visit. It was supernatural. It has been there since and has changed everything.
Get a life! Get His life! Make the exchange for everything—every tiny detail of life—for His attitude, His emotions, His actions—it is an amazing way to live!