1 Corinthians 13:4-7 - 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.
The Battle of the Barricade is finally over near where I live. A major thoroughfare in my part of town underwent repairs recently. On many occasions (usually those known fondly as "rush hour") four of the street's six lanes were closed for traffic. Commuters felt alternately annoyed and exasperated because the blockaded street simply could not accommodate the flow of vehicles attempting to use it.
St. Paul, concerned about the barricaded thoroughfares among the Christians he served, wrote to those at Corinth, to "widen your hearts also" (2 Corinthians 6:13b). The church struggled with many problems that undermined their love for one another and their service to others. Among the Corinthian church's issues were divisions among believers (bitterness, rivalries, jealousies); immorality troubles; lawsuits; marriage struggles; idolatry; and much more (see 1 Corinthians).
Paul could see that the faith of those in Corinth was getting clogged by life's many issues. Christ uses His people as arteries for transmitting His love. Too often though, we Christians suffer from hardening of the arteries. We allow bitterness to constrict the flow of love. We barricade our hearts with conceit or with worry about fulfilling our own desires.
God's love for our world is boundless. Yet the need people feel for loves goes largely unmet. Many people in many different circumstances feel unloved and unlovable. What's wrong? A good part of the problem comes from the fact that far too many of Christ's people are putting up "Roads Closed" signs.
We need to widen our heart and pull down the barriers in our lives. When we allow Christ's love to flow to others through us, our capacity to love and for love deepens, our perspective enlarges. The more we practice this attitude, the better we get at sharing God's love with others. We also begin to understand God's compassion for all sinners. In the end, we receive more than we can possibly give. As the old hymn reminds us, "We can never out-love the Lord."
God helps us fight the Battle of the Barricade in our lives. He sent His Son to die for our sins, so that we too will die to self and live for Him. Peter said it well: "He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24).
God will widen our hearts to love others through His Spirit at work within us. We need only invite Him to do so, but we need to also remain open for repairs.
THE PRAYER: Heavenly Father, feel free to work in my life, making the changes that need to be made. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
From The Lutheran Layman, December 1978 issue, "Closed for Repairs," by Jane Fryar
1. What was the last major inconvenience you experienced?
2. How can love help us get through life's many inconveniences—even things like road repairs?
3. Do you feel you shut your heart off to certain people? Is there a chance you could change your response?
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