By Rachel O’Neill, Contributing Writer
“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.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-6, ESV
These words are all too familiar. Words I’ve heard hundreds, perhaps thousands, of times – in church, at weddings, through my own personal reading of the Scriptures and Christian books…
Familiarity often brings with it a lack of regard. We read the words, we listen to them. We think “that’s nice,” or “how beautiful,” then turn the page, moving right along.
Recently I felt the need to look at these words in a new light. On a quiet afternoon I picked it apart, one word at a time, and asked myself how I was really doing at loving my husband. It was quite the eye-opener!
Hoping that it might be helpful for you too, I want to share with you what envy, arrogance, and irritability look like in me and my marriage. Each of us is different- you may or may not relate to my personal sin struggles. My desire is that by sharing what I saw in my heart, it might help to shed some light on yours, and give you a fresh take on these old familiar words.
Learning Lessons from 1 Corinthians 13
Love is patient. Impatience rears its ugly head often in my home. I lose my temper and snap at my husband, answering him harshly when I ought to have been patient and kind. Impatience comes out when I fail to really listen to my husband, tapping my toe for him to finish, so that I can have my say.
Love is kind. Kindness speaks words of support, love, gentleness, and friendship. Too often my words are harsh, rough, whiny, and/or negative. Kindness strives to do that which the other appreciates, while I am far more interested in my own selfish interests.
Love does not envy. How many nights have I been resentful that I had to change another diaper, make another bottle, give another bath, while my husband relaxes after a long day of working outside of the home? I’ve envied his lack of responsibility in childcare and housework, ignoring all of the responsibilities that he does faithfully juggle, and the many times he helps me with my work on top of his already full plate.
Really, I envy his outside work because I feel like it would give me more freedom to do what I want, when I want. Ultimately, this is selfish, and simply not true. My husband does many things that he’d rather not do, for his family’s sake.
Love does not boast. On my ugly days, I love to lord over Niall what I’ve accomplished in our home- “I washed the dishes, did three loads of laundry, ironed all of your shirts, and made dinner!” The implication is, of course, that I’ve done way more than he has. This is just a lie! How easy it is to believe that we are the one’s carrying the whole load, while our spouse has the easy route. To love Niall, I need to stay in tune to all of the wonderful and difficult things he does do, and be thankful for them- not boasting in my supposedly “superior” accomplishments.
Love is not arrogant. Oh, pride. Inherently lurking in the heart of every human being, arrogance can be a nasty beast in our marriages. I’d rather not admit this, but sometimes I think that I am better than everybody else. Even my husband. How sick is that? It completely distorts the reality- all of us our wicked, abominable sinners, saved only by grace.
I deeply appreciate what Dave Harvey says in his book, When Sinners Say “I Do”- “What’s the greatest problem in my marriage? I am.” I am not better than my spouse. I am a desperately wicked sinner, and I need to see myself as the problem (not him!).
Come back tomorrow for more lessons on love from 1 Corinthians 13!