Devotional: June 11, 2020
It’s best to stay in touch with both sides of an issue. A person who fears God deals responsibly with all of reality, not just a piece of it.
Ecclesiastes 7: 18 The Message
Looking at all sides of an issue is a virtue: a biblical virtue. As we all know, our culture is divided on many different topics. In fact, things are so polarized that observers talk about “culture wars” in our society.
Unfortunately, many people seem to look only at one side of an issue. They hear from, and talk to people who agree with them, but no one else. This ends up reinforcing their views, and further distancing them from those with different views. Sometimes those people are in the same family, which further strains relationships.
It is a recipe which results in people shouting at each other, or even shouting past each other. Nobody seems to be listening. No one seems eager to learn. Communication breaks down. Hot-button topics end up dividing us: our community, our nation, and our world.
What is the antidote? Love. Although that answer may seem overly simplistic, it really is not. Love comes in many different forms. Scripture offers us guidelines which help define truly loving actions and behaviors. Both First Corinthians and Galatians help us provide us with lists of loving virtues.
I am including these lists, in both the NRSV and The Message versions.
I Corinthians 13: 4-13 “Love” in the NRSV
Does not envy
Does not boast
It is not proud
It does not dishonor others
It is not self-seeking
It is not easily angered
It keeps no record of wrong
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
It always protects
lt always trusts
It always hopes
lt always perseveres
First Corinthians 13 in The Message
Love never gives up
Love cares more for others than for self
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have
Love doesn’t strut
Doesn’t have a swelled head
Doesn’t force itself on others
Isn’t always, “me first”
Doesn’t fly off the handle
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others
Doesn’t revel when others grovel
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth
Puts up with anything
Trusts God always
Always looks for the best
Never looks back
Keeps going to the end
Galatians 5:22-23 “Fruit of the Spirit” in the NRSV
Galatians 5:22-23 “Fruit of the Spirit” in The Message
Affection for others
Exuberance about life
Willingness to stick with things
A Sense of Compassion in the heart
A conviction that a backs holiness permeates things and people
Not needing to force our way in life
Able to marshal and direct our energies wisely
Legalism is helpless in bringing this about these things and it only gets in the way
Jesus told us to love our neighbors, as we love ourselves. In case we need guidance on what that love should look like, we can always review these lists. As we engage in conversations over heated topics, conversations which can sometimes be strained, remember that we can love through listening.
James 1:19-21 The Message
Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So, throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life.
The world is seldom as simple as we would like it to be. Yet if we approach and view things with a heart of love, as God encourages us, we might have a lot less yelling. Hopefully by listening, we can understand. Let us seek to view issues from both sides. God wants us to see the whole picture, and not just part of it.
Loving and Holy God,
We confess that although we like to act like we know everything, we do not. Rather than dismissing people, help us to love them enough to listen to them. As Christians, may our lives mirror what the scriptures teach us. Help us to find the full truth, a process which may include learning from those with whom we disagree.
We pray this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.