I Corinthians 13:7 (NIV)
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
In I Corinthians 13, Paul is trying to iron out some common conflicts between the saints at Corinth. The major conflict is status. The saints are bickering over who has greater spiritual gifts, a greater leader, and a greater church.
The truth is that spiritual gifts are no better or worse in each saint’s life. Yet, the people have gotten caught up in the temptation to put themselves before others. It’s caused splinters and factions in the church and strained relationships.
Isn’t that so similar to how we live life today? We put ideas and conflicts above loving other people.
The first lesson is that we are all unique, handcrafted by God. No one is better than another, but God has purposed each of us to fulfill a different role in the body of Christ
The second lesson is the message Paul is focusing on in today’s verse, “Love is there because God is there.” Paul is trying to tell them [and us] that the love of God that gives them passion and desire to see God’s best for them also makes them look for the best in each other.
And if you know the context of the letters Paul is writing to the Corinthians, he’s very upset with them, like a father with a child. He loves them, but they have walked so far away from what he’s taught them that it’s hard for him to be around them.
Do you have anyone like that in your life? It’s hard to be around the prickly people. It’s hard to love them, yet Christ calls us to do just that.
And that’s what Paul is teaching here. You have to look for the good in people because God is there within them.
Another truth to know about Paul—even though he is hurting over the saints, he is supremely confident in the future.
He anchors his hope in the reality that a yielded life surrendered to God will (even in difficult, conflict-ridden relationships) “always” love and look for the love of God that exists within others.
Here are some practical ways to “always” look for the God (and good) in others:
- Keep your hope present. Are you living a Scripture-filled, prayer-intense, worship-passionate life? If not, start here. You will have strength to look past doubt and negativity when focusing on reading your Bible, praying intentionally, and worshiping passionately. God’s Word does not return void.
- Love anyway. The prickly people are usually covered in layers and layers of pain. If you establish your confidence that God is STILL in there somewhere, you can endure and love them where they are.
- Go the distance. Loving people intentionally is the way to bring the “God in them” out. It may take time. Be prepared for conflict. Love them through it. Pray for them. Let them know you are there.
- Remember that God made everything good. He did. “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NIV). If God created everything good, there’s good in everyone. If good gets buried under layers, God’s best is still in them.
- Rely on the Spirit for help. If we have the gift of the Spirit, we can love people “always” and help them to find the good that’s always been there.