“Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful.”
Welcome back to the Love Jam series! Last time I talked about how love shouldn’t be used like a drug intended to make you feel good, and its purpose is not to boost one’s own ego and elevate selfish needs over the needs of others.
At this juncture along the road to understanding the kind of love which the Apostle Paul writes about, we need to take a step back and look at a common element to the breakdown of loving relationships: friction. We all know what it feels like. Whether it’s between father and son, sister and brother, best friends butting heads, a guy and a girl — something is just not right. Tension is in the air. Every word spoken grates on the nerves. Any little comment can seem like an insult. Sometimes this may be a low-level feeling seething underneath the surface, whereas other times it is punctuated and explosive at the most inopportune moments.
Friction is almost always a result of one simple human truth: when someone makes you feel unwanted, stupid, disrespected, or misunderstood, you tend to get angry about it. This anger comes in the form of resentment, and resentment usually leads to a warfare mentality. We’re at war, it’s him/her against me, and we’re no longer working together in this thing called life but are at odds with one another.
Now if you think you’ll win the war by looking out for number one and standing up on your own two feet and declaring your rights, here’s a newsflash for you: you’ve bought into an insidious lie, and you’re a fool. Hey, don’t get mad at me for saying so — I’ve bought into this foolishness many times myself. I keep thinking that if only the other person would simply realize how bad they’ve made me feel, they’ll change and treat me right. Sorry, that never works out in the end, because here’s the deal: love does not insist on its own way. If I’m forcing someone to walk around on eggshells and baby my poor ego, I’m not showing them love, I’m actually robbing them of the joy, freedom, and compassion that they so rightly deserve as children of God.
Love is not irritable or resentful. This means that we need to keep a constant check on our attitudes and watch out for the things which cause us to lose focus on showing love with patience and kindness. If we allow friction to continue, we’ll get a blister on our souls. Remember how you get blisters on your hands or feet? Constant rubbing a little bit at a time. It can grow to be very painful, but the cause is so subliminal.
When we are upset, we will say the things we’d never say when we are in our right mind, and that is a danger. James puts it this way:
“We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check. When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.”
How can we stave off resentment and lift the other person up even when it feels like it’s at our expense? This is where a little wisdom goes a long way. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18. The key is this: your measure of sacrificial love is in direct proportion to your revelation of the depth of love that God has for you and how much He has forgiven you even when you’ve sinned against Him. When you seek the Lord for wisdom and understanding, when you ask Him to show you the fissures and crevices in your own heart, when you allow Him to bring change and transformation to your own thoughts and emotions, you will discover that following the way of True Love by not insisting on your own way brings far more blessing, health, and peace to your relationships than all of your irritation and resentment.
I pray the following verse on a regular basis for myself as well as others, and I have found it to be extremely powerful. There is no one alive today who is not in need of a larger heart. May God give us more of His heart as we chase after Him!
“I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!”