“Follow your heart!”
“Do what makes you happy!”
“Look out for number one!”
These are all love and happiness messages of the world that seek to inform how we are to live. But how do these messages align with the walk of love we’ve been discussing?
We continue our comparison of the love passage in 1 Corinthians 13 with the mutuality commands (one anothers) in the New Testament Scriptures, as we seek to discover how the way of love helps us to walk in love.
Love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. —1 Corinthians 13:4b-5a
Let’s begin with the definitions of these attributes of love as found in the original language of Scripture:
- Envy means to be heated or to boil with envy, hatred or anger
- Boastful means to boast one’s self; extolling one’s self excessively, a braggart
- Arrogant means to puff up, swell up, to inflate
- Rude means to behave in an ugly, indecent matter; to act unbecomingly
Unfortunately, I can relate to displaying all of these attributes at one time or another in my life. They certainly seem to characterize the current climate of our culture. But a walk of love is none of these!
A walk of love is characterized by showing honor and mutual respect for one another.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. —Romans 12:10
In the original language show honor means we let others know we value and esteem them. It is the idea of showing deference or reverence to someone.
In the original language outdo does not mean we seek to “one up” others, but rather it means to prefer, to go before and lead the way by example, and to show mutual respect.
A walk of love is displayed by a community that dwells together in harmony.
Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. —Romans 12:16
Harmony in the original language is a word that means to think, to have a mindset. It describes where we direct our thoughts as individuals and refers to being of one accord or of one mindset as a collective group.
Before we begin our discussion of what means, practically, to walk out a love characterized by mutual respect and harmony take a moment to read through Romans 12.
LOVE does not envy or boast and is not arrogant or rude so WALK in harmony showing honor and mutual respect for one another.
This walk of love requires a shift in the way we think.
This shift in thought begins by remembering who we are! In our guiding verse for this study, Ephesians 5:1-2, we saw that we are the beloved of God. It’s about identity!
Our identity goes beyond our gender, race, ethnicity, and roles in life. These can certainly inform and give insight into who we are, but they are not the core of our identity as believers in Christ Jesus!
We can define identity as the place where we find security (our core trust) and where we find significance (affirmation/worth).
When our identity is found in something or someone other than Christ, we will live from a place of fear—seeking to defend our false securities and to perform or please to find acceptance and significance. When we allow the Word of God and His Spirit to transform our hearts and minds, we will begin to walk out our identity as new creations in Christ Jesus, those beloved by God!
When I accept and rest secure in who I am in Christ, I no longer have the need to compete with those around me or to be defensive.
An identity centered on Christ brings about a new freedom in my life. It allows me to exhibit humility and respect—rather than trying to defend myself or my position. It allows me to walk in harmony with others.
This shift in thought requires I renew my mind. My tendency in the flesh will always be toward self-promotion (envy and boasting) and the defense of what I feel is right (arrogance and rudeness).
God’s Word and His Spirit change me from the inside out. It’s like a daily detox to the patterns of worldly thinking and behaving in which I find myself immersed every day.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. —Romans 12:1-2
As we remember who we are in Christ and renew our minds in God’s Word, we will be equipped to be of one mind, living in harmony, and showing respect to one another.
Ephesians 5:15-21 reminds us we are to walk wisely:
- making the best use of our time
- being filled with the Spirit
- addressing one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to the Lord with our hearts
- giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
- submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ
As the body of Christ we are to be of the same mind with a single purpose:
Now may the God of patient endurance and of encouragement grant you to be in agreement with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that with one mind you may glorify with one mouth the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. —Romans 15:5-6
We are to be of one mind and one mouth glorifying the Father—not boasting in ourselves or our accomplishments—but glorifying Him in all things!
We can disagree with others with an attitude of mutual respect—yet remain single-minded in our love and devotion to Christ and in our commitment to live out the gospel.
What would the watching world think if they observed us leading the way by example, as we valued and esteemed one another and exhibited mutual respect?
What if the church was seen as a beautiful symphony of love, respect, and harmony—a beautiful chorus of joyful noise that glorifies the Father?
It’s worth finding out!
©2013 Susan Cady, susancady.com