Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
If you browse social media with any regularity, you have probably seen the funny pictures of people who had just one job, and they failed miserably. Maybe it was a produce crate with apples which were clearly marked “Watermelons,” or street painters who misspelled the word “School” in the school crossing zone.
It is easy to be amused by mistakes like these; mistakes we think we would never make ourselves. Have you looked for your mislaid glasses only to find them on top of your head? Maybe, you have caught yourself looking for your phone, wondering where you could have left it, all the while engaged in a conversation with your good friend Jim… on your phone! (I pray you are lucky enough to have a friend like Jim, who would delightfully share with you that wonderful moment of realization.)
There is one job we have each been given, and I wonder how many of us fail on a daily basis. God has given each of us just one job: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 15:12)
When I think about the example of Christ’s love, I naturally think of the cross. Do we ever have a literal opportunity to die for others? (And would we, if we could?)
Lately, I have been thinking about my favorite “love” Scripture, and that’s in 1 Corinthians 13. It is often used in weddings, when we think about two people in marital union. However, this is just one application. Jesus didn’t set those words apart exclusively for two people romantically in love. Rather, He was speaking of love that we should have, generally for each other — neighbors, coworkers, grocery store cashiers, etc. Do I treat my coworkers and friends with patience and kindness?
I like to compare different translations. In the ESV, the last part of verse 5 is translated as, “it is not irritable or resentful.” Sometimes, I need to see the exact word for my sin in order to recognize it in myself. When I read that word “irritable,” I immediately identify my own shortcomings. I am sometimes irritable, especially at work. I make excuses for it, and I even try to justify it. When God says not to do something, you cannot hide and make excuses. Irritability is not a display of love in any circumstance.
As I think about it, and apply it in my own life, I know I must do better. I certainly don’t want to arrive on Heaven’s doorstep and have God look at me while shaking His mighty head and saying, “You had just one job!”