The battle rages on. The struggle between the prideful ruler and the humble servant. The rub between what feels good and right and what is righteous. It is not a wrestling of two individuals but of one; an internal struggle of being my own god or bowing to the only Wise God.
I want to tell you I struggle with believing the best of others. I want to believe the best of others but I assume to know heart and motive. I want to say that it’s because I am observant, discerning and often right in my assessments; therefore when I see questionable behaviors I know what people are thinking, how they are feeling and what motivates them. I like the idea of promoting my strengths. It’s a curse to be so darned discerning! I’m pretty sure that’s not the path toward anything good and while sometimes I may be right, being right is not the issue. The real struggle – my real issue – is love.
1 Corinthians 12:1-7, 13, 14:1a If I speak in tongues of men and angels but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it his not arrogant or rude. It doe not insist on its own way: it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 14a Pursue love,
It’s love. Without love we are a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal; lots of talk but nothing more. He says we are nothing and we gain nothing.
I look at this beautiful, poetic description of love and I wonder, “How do I get there?” This love is not my nature! This love is outside of my skill set: This love goes beyond my own ideas of love and calls me to a higher love that does not rely on my own senses and sensibility. It is counter-intuitive. I think things. I know things. I sometimes believe what I think without really knowing fully as God fully knows. My mirror is dimly lit.
There is a sizable gap between what the Word of God says about love and how I actually live out that love for others. Knowing that I will never love perfectly does not disqualify me from the race nor should it discourage me from entering it.
1 Corinthians 9:22-27 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
No runner can endure or gain speed without practice. I need practice. I need to practice love with the purpose of learning to love others the way God loves me. I need to practice to make it my nature. It takes consistent discipline to not only believe the best of others, but to love them in all the ways God has called me to love them.
The practice happens in the battle. Love cannot be rehearsed outside of being in relationships and situations that require love. It is a battle to catch those thoughts (2 Cor. 10:5) and remind myself that only God knows heart and motive. It is a battle to replace those thoughts (Phil. 4:8) with loving, beneficial thoughts. It is a battle worth fighting. Thinking fuels my heart; if I think wrong, I believe wrong, therefore I feel wrong. Believing the best of others inspires right feelings about them and toward them. It inspires love.
And love believes the best of others.