“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT).
Even though most would not describe me as a super competitive person, I will admit that I like winning. As both of my children and husband can attest, when we all sit down to a good board game like “Sorry” or “Monopoly,” I am frequently the one that protests the most when I am sent “home” or “to jail.”
Unfortunately, my tendency to want to win doesn’t just end at “family game night.” It can also occur when I’m having a discussion with my husband on what paint colors or fabrics go best with the room we are redecorating, or when I am reminding my son of the importance of making the bed with the sheets fitted, so that they don’t wrinkle.
What happens when I don’t win or get my way isn’t always so pretty either. Words often fly out of my mouth that are not truthful or are hurtful. My desire for wanting the other person to see things my way often takes over and inevitably a fight or tears ensue as a result.
During my Bible Study time this past week in First Corinthians Chapters 10 through 14, Paul emphasizes the importance of making daily choices that honor God and His will for us. He covers important topics, such as: the danger in creating idols in our lives, how to properly worship in our daily lives and in sharing the Lord’s supper, honoring our personal spiritual gifts, and worshipping for the benefit of all involved – to name just a few.
In Chapter 13, Paul addresses the importance of love and loving others. He so eloquently states in the very first verse of this Chapter, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” 1 Corinthians 13:1 (NLT).
How often do I sound like a “noisy gong” or “clanging cymbal?” Regrettably, more times than I can count. How different would the outcome be if I chose to speak words of love to others rather than words of hurt or frustration over wanting others to understand my feelings?
When I approach others with a “me” focus, the lines become quite blurry. Suddenly, I am making myself the most important thing in the equation. It’s not something I do intentionally, of course, but it damages the core of who I am and who God wants me to be. No good comes out of it and the people I love most are the ones who get hurt the most.
Is it worth the trade off?
In closing the chapter, Paul states, “Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever – faith, hope and love – and the greatest of these is love” 1 Corinthians 12-13 (NLT).
When I find myself in situations where I want to win, I can choose to be a sore loser or to lose gracefully. Throughout Paul’s lessons in these Chapters, we learn first-hand of the rewards in losing gracefully. After all, Christ certainly has given us His grace and it is not something we have earned or deserve. “God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins” 1 John 4:9-10 (NLT).
Love needs to come from a giving nature. It is not something that we are entitled to or earn. When I look at love through that lens, it is much easier to let go of my need to win or to have others see my way. At the end of the day, I can rest in knowing that I made a choice that honors the kind of love my Heavenly Father has for me, which in turn honors the best of me. After all, don’t my loved ones deserve my best?
Heavenly Father, Thank You for the humble reminder of what it means to love through your Word. Please forgive me for the times that I lose sight of that truth and focus on winning the fight, instead of losing gracefully. Remove any part of me that places my desires above yours. Thank you for the blessings of my loved ones in my life. Help me to always speak words of love and truth to them and others. I ask these things in Your Son’s Most Precious Name, Amen.