Living the Golden Rule is a tough challenge. Every day we’re faced with all kinds of situations where we choose to act in a way that either falls within the Golden Rule or that goes against that loving principle. However, sadly, our first reaction often is to think about what we would want and what would be best for us. Even if we want to live the Golden Rule, it can be discouraging when it doesn’t come naturally.
The good news is that Jesus understands where we’re at. He knows that our love doesn’t naturally point toward others and that the only way that we will ever be able to have the kind of love that He has is if we learn to love with His love—God’s love.
Human love only takes us so far, but God’s love never fails.
Let’s take a look at what Paul teaches us about love:
1Corinthians 13:4-5 NIV Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Jesus wants us to have the same compassionate feelings for others that He does. He wants us to care enough about others that we are motivated to reach out to them, not just because we feel we have to, but because we really want to do what we can to help them.
1) Love is Patient
An official of a mission board, who knew it takes more than desire to make a missionary, was appointed to examine a candidate for the mission field. He told the young man to be at his house at six o’clock in the morning. The young man complied and arrived a six o’clock sharp. The examiner kept him sitting alone in the room until ten.
Then he finally came in and said abruptly, “Young man, can you write your name?” A little taken aback by the simplicity of his question, the man paused. Before he could get a word out, the examiner blurted, “What, you don’t know what it is?” The mission board official put him through a series of questions of that nature and then went to report to the mission board.
“Okay,” he said, “he will do. I tried his patience for hours and hours and he did not break down; then I insulted him and he did not lose his temper. This candidate answered with patience, fortitude, and gentleness. His faith was vindicated by the very quality of his character. He will make a good missionary.”
Whether we realize it or not—we all are in the mission field. Our patience is bound to be tested in ways we’ve never imagined and we’ll most likely find it unfair and unkind at times. But standing strong in the Lord in the face of offensive treatment and enduring seasons of long-suffering is a testimony in and of itself—and that will win souls!
2) Love is Kind
One practical way we can show kindness to others is through our speech. Have you ever found out that someone said good things about you behind your back? What a wonderful feeling!
Proverbs 25:11 A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.
But when we hear of unkind words that have been said about us, it provokes just the opposite reaction inside of us.
In the washroom of his London club, British newspaper publisher and politician William Beverbrook happened to meet Edward Heath, then a young member of Parliament, about whom Beverbrook had printed an insulting editorial a few days earlier.
“My dear chap,” said the publisher, embarrassed by the encounter. “I’ve been thinking it over, and I was wrong. Here and now, I wish to apologize.”
“Very well,” grunted Heath. “But the next time, I wish you’d insult me in the washroom and apologize in your newspaper.”
Too often, we allow ourselves the liberty to say things for which we end up being sorry later. We really need to think before we speak! I heard one person put it beautifully.
Before we say something let’s “THINK”:
T — is it True?
H — is it Helpful?
I — is it Inspiring?
N — is it Necessary?
K — is it Kind?
If what we’re about to say does not pass those tests, let’s not say it!
God has great things for us to be doing. We must allow Him to refine us and prepare us for His work! Let’s strive to think before we speak. There’s so much work to be done!
James 3:5-6 NIV 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. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
3) Love Doesn’t Envy
Can you be happy for others when they succeed?—Even if they succeed at something that you were hoping to succeed at? Or if someone gets to do something that you really wanted to do, can you be happy for them?
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you are tempted to feel envious of someone else, let the words from the Bible give you the strength you need to choose to be happy for them instead; that’s love.
4) Love Doesn’t Boast
Here are some synonyms for the word boast:
> show off
> toot your own horn
> sing your own praises
Have you ever been around someone who bragged often of their skills, good looks, or achievements? How does it make you feel to be around someone like that? The Golden Rule is a constant reminder to us that we don’t want to treat others in a way that we wouldn’t want to be treated ourselves.
Here are some verses that remind us that we should thank God for the good that He helps us to do, rather than boast.
Philippians 2:13 For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
If we let God work through us and help us to take on more of His loving nature, He’ll get the credit and we’ll benefit as well. People will feel more comfortable around us if we are boasting of God’s greatness rather than our own.
5) Love Isn’t Proud
When you think of pride, what traits come to mind? Perhaps self-centeredness, impatience, boastfulness, rudeness, lack of respect for others. All of those attitudes and more define a proud person, and you’ve probably noticed that all of those attitudes are the very ones that Paul tells us that love is not. Why is that? Because love is, in many ways, the very opposite of pride.
What does Scripture tell us about pride?
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
1 John 2:16 … the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.
James 4:6 God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
Some dictionary definitions for rude are:
> impolite, especially in a deliberate way
> lacking good manners
Here’s an example of rude behavior:
A group of people picked up hotel lounge chairs and transported them down to the beach in various ways. As they clogged up the entrance to the beach they could be heard commenting, “We’re probably not supposed to bring these down to the beach, but I saw some down here yesterday and they were back by the pool this morning.”
Later on, most of them marched back up to the hotel and left the chairs on the beach. A few of them were hanging out on the beach and watched as two staff members made about 15 trips to return the chairs to the hotel in the extreme heat.
Being rude is really being self-centered. If you want to stand out in a good way, show concern for and kindness toward others—that’s love.
In Jay Leno’s foreword to The Power of Nice, he writes:
Today being nice is so surprising it becomes a news story. I recently told a joke on the show and got a letter from a woman saying she was offended by it. I called her to apologize and say that I was sorry if I hurt her feelings. For some reason, she contacted the newspapers, and my apology became headline news! We live in a society where common courtesy is so uncommon that it is treated as though you just saved someone’s life.
When you choose to be polite rather than act in a rude manner, people will take notice and they will appreciate your sincere act of kindness.
7) Love Isn’t Easily Angered
Now there’s a challenge! Think of some of the things that trigger an angry response in you.
All sorts of things can trigger irritability in people, from minor traffic jams to major headaches. Everyone gets upset or annoyed sometimes. We all have lost our temper and reacted without thinking. We have succumbed to anger that drives us to say and do things we normally wouldn’t. And it’s when we lose control over our thoughts and feelings that our irritability and anger can do some major damage to our love walk.
When irritable, we are very likely to become easily angered at others, sometimes at the slightest provocation. We might even become hostile and behave in ways we will later regret. Gaining control over our thoughts, feelings, and actions when irritated and angry is the best way to keep from acting in unloving ways.
Self-control communicates love. It can be seen whenever we:
— Take responsibility for our reactions
— Do not accuse or blame others for the way we feel
— Treat others graciously although they irritate us
— Keep from saying something hurtful and unnecessary
— Do not take our anger out on those around us
— Think things through before we react
— Allow ourselves a time-out to gather ourselves together
— Do not expect more from others than we should
The disposition of love is self-control and a good temper. Having self-control and a good temper is easier said than done, especially for those individuals who are more prone to irritability for various reasons. Even so, we can all learn to gain greater control over our tempers and how we react under pressure. Irritations will never cease, nor does our love need to when they come.
We may not be able to control stressors and pressures in our lives, but how we respond to them is up to us.
The Ten Keys to Happy and Loving Relationships, Be Happy for Life
It’s interesting that the verse doesn’t say “love is never angered.” Jesus Himself became angry—eventually—at religious hypocrisy; however, He never “lost control.” In the few instances in the Bible where Jesus did get angry, you’ll notice that it was never immediate, spontaneous, uncontrolled action; things didn’t get to Him easily.
The key to managing your temper is to think about how your actions reflect God and affect others. After all, that’s what love does.
8) Love Isn’t Self-Seeking
One reason that love isn’t easily angered is because love isn’t self-seeking, meaning it’s not primarily concerned with self. Those who have a lot of love for God and others, like Jesus did, are able to override their own feelings and inclinations, and behave in a way that uplifts God and others.
A mother was preparing pancakes for her sons, Kevin, age five, and Ryan, three. The boys began to argue over who would get the first pancake. Their mother saw the opportunity for a moral lesson, so she said, “Now boys, if Jesus were sitting here, He would say, ‘Let my brother have the first pancake. I can wait.’”
Kevin turned to his younger brother and said, “Ryan, you be Jesus.”
That’s pretty funny, isn’t it? But how many times are we like Kevin? Love chooses to play the role of Jesus.
9) Love is Forgiving
Another way to put it could be, “love doesn’t keep a record.” Forgiveness is in the Lord’s Prayer: “And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.” This line was very important to Jesus, because after He prayed, this is the only part of the prayer that He explained to His disciples. He said:
Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
The apostle Paul also emphasized this point:
Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.
10) Love Doesn’t Judge
This description isn’t included in 1 Corinthians 13, but it’s another important definition of love. Mother Teresa said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” How true that is! It’s hard to love someone you’re looking down on or judging. As Peter Amsterdam said:
Only God is in a position to pass wise or fair judgment. We can’t know the burdens and weights that people carry, or all the reasons why they make the choices they do.
We shouldn’t feel compelled to judge every person we encounter that has something wrong in their life. We should be more concerned about helping people and loving them into heaven than judging them on earth. God is the judge; He knows the hearts of people and He understands everything about them in a way that we would never be able to. He doesn’t need our help to judge people; that isn’t what Jesus commissioned us to do.
God is love, and He’s not willing that any should perish. He loves every single man, woman, and child, no matter who they are, where they live, what color their skin is, what their ancestors did or didn’t do, and what they believe or don’t believe. He still loves them, even if their lives are consumed with sin or they live in spiritual darkness. This is one of the things that make Christianity so beautiful—God’s love compels us to love everyone and to share His truth and love with as many people as we can.
When it comes to judgment, God looks at the individual. Each person is a unique individual, created in His image, and He loves each one as if they were the only one. Each person is someone Jesus died to save.
He loves and cares for all people—even those who don’t know Him or haven’t received Him, or have rejected Him.