As I was navigating some tricky relationships and helping a couple of dear friends do the same this week it occurred to me that in the natural we see others through our own emotional lenses, or simply natural lenses. What we need to do is see others and what they say and do or do not do through the eyes of Jesus. Not just loving the sometimes hard to love but asking the Lord to help us see them as they are spiritually and emotionally at the moment. Although to the natural eye someone looks mature they may not be, and consequently unable to meet our grown up expectations of them. Their own brokenness has kept them from growing up as they should in every area. If we are able to perceive this then our emotional expectations are lessened. I have no expectations that my 2 year old grandson should meet any of my needs, he has too many of his own. However, I adore him and when needed will pick him to give him love and consolation when ever I have the opportunity.  Although most adults have matured beyond toddlerhood there may be emotional obstacles that have kept them from fully maturing in all areas as we would expect and we may need to carry them for a time as well.

1 Corinthians 13:4 The Passion Translation

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else….Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter for it never stops believing the best of others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving.

So, love is LARGE, it makes room for others mistakes, childish behaviors, selfish actions or words and it is patient as they grow. Love is so gentle and kind, rather than judgemental and harsh. Love does not spread disrespect. Why, because it is not easily irritated or easily offended. However, this kind of large selfless love requires I put on other lenses to see as Jesus sees another. It requires I guard my heart against my own unmet expectations of them. It requires that I look to their interests, their pain and healing before looking to my own needs. When I put on this lens I celebrate others in whatever stage of spiritual and emotional development they may currently be in. Then and only then does my love become a place of shelter for them, a place where they know I am continually believing for their best so it is safe “to be”.

I love the footnotes in the Passion translation:

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:4Or “Love patiently endures mistreatment” could mean that love is incredibly patient even in difficult relationships. The Aramaic can be translated “Love transforms the spirit.”

Isn’t this when we need this word the most, in those difficult relationships, where words or attitudes may have the power to wound us? It is here where we need the love that transforms.

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:5Or “resentful” or “does not keep score.” The Aramaic can be translated “Love does not stare at evil.” Love will overlook offenses and remain focused on what is good, refusing to hold resentment in our hearts.

This concept of not staring at evil really struck me. We do not re-play negative words or actions over and over again and stare at them, giving them all our attention. That will soon poison our minds and potentially the relationship. Rather when we overlook the offenses and focus on the good we refuse to allow the enemy room for any heart resentment so that love is able to prevail.

  1. 1 Corinthians 13:7Or “Love bears all things.” Although commonly understood to mean that love can bear hardships of any kind, the nominalized form of the verb (stego) is actually the word for “roof” found in Mark 2:4. Paul is saying that love covers all things, like a roof covers the house. See 1 Peter 4:8. Love does not focus on what is wrong but will bear with the shortcomings of others. And like a roof protects and shields, you could say that love springs no leak. It is a safe place that offers shelter, not exposure.

Our love for others covers and protects them as the Lord’s love for us covers and protects us. Shelter, not exposure, provides an environment where others are able to grow and flourish, and we along with them.

Galatians 6:2

Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking [in your obedience to it].

We all have our own little bags of troublesome foibles.  I pray those that love me will continue to do so with some of those bags still on my back and help me carry the load until I am able to let them go….