Throughout Scripture the Christian life is pictured as growing. Beginning as an infant in Christ, we are to grow up in him, becoming mature, reaching the full stature of adulthood—hitting maximum maturity! Maturity is defined as being like Christ, having a fuller understanding of God, ourselves and redemption. It is natural to grow up. We want to be mature!
One of the key marks of maturity is love. Paul says that it is the goal of his writing (1 Timothy 1:5), and John refers to it as the primo mark of belonging to God (John 13:35; 1 John 4:7-8). First Corinthians 13 is one of the high points of Scripture. It is recognized as a masterpiece of writing, expressing the gold standard of what love should be.
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Summary of Challenges
Patient – “to bear up under provocation without complaint, be patient, forbearing.” It’s not that loving people are inefficient, but that they have their priorities straight. Impatience is strongly tinged with accomplishing my own agenda. It can be intensely selfish at the expense of others. Impatience often leads to complaining about people and about God himself.
Test: Do I complain? Go a day without complaining about or to a specific person.
Kind – “Others-centered, considerate of others. A kind person is quick to help when he or she senses a need.” “Most of the hurt in this world is done by people who could have done better” –Mark Dehaan, Radio Bible Class
Test: Do I take the time to be considerate and meet a need? Find a need to meet.
Rejoices with the truth – “Glad when justice is done, that the hidden truth of a situation comes to light.”
Test: Pray for unsolved crime to be exposed and dealt with, for injustices to be corrected. Join in supporting an individual suffering injustice.
Bears all things – “Protects – the sense of covering or enclosing in such a way as to keep something undesirable from coming in, as water into a ship.”
Test: Find someone vulnerable for whom you can do something to protect.
Believes all things – “to consider something to be true and therefore worthy of one’s trust, believe … be convinced of something.” This doesn’t mean that love is hopelessly naive. But love always believes the best about a person. Love is faithful to people. Love is essentially optimistic and looks for the best.
Test: Choose to reject something negative said about someone else. Refuse to listen!
Hopes all things – “to look forward to something, with implication of confidence about something coming to pass, hope, hope for.” Love doesn’t give up hope. It looks to God and his saving power to redeem even the worst situation or the most hardened person.
Test: Renew your commitment to pray for the salvation of someone you know.
Endures all things – “to maintain a belief or course of action in the face of opposition, stand one’s ground, hold out, endure.”
Test: Choose an action to continue even though you are getting opposition.
Never ends – Literally “falls” – “become inadequate for some function, fail, weaken.”
Test: Renew your commitment to someone.
Envious – “to have intense negative feelings over another’s achievements or success, be filled with jealousy, envy toward someone.”
Test: Congratulate someone opposed to you on their success or accomplishment.
Boastful – defending and propagating our own self-image – “to heap praise on oneself.” It is often a sign of my deep insecurity and need for others to validate me with their approval.
Test: Refuse to point out your role or take credit for something. Defer credit to someone else.
Arrogant – “an exaggerated self-conception.” One of the pernicious techniques of pride and getting one’s own way is to run down and discredit your opponent.
Test: Seek an honest evaluation of your abilities. Seek an objective view of yourself. (Then half it!)
Rude – “to behave disgracefully, dishonorably, indecently.” Below standard.
Test: Is there any behavior I would not want publicized?
Selfish (insist on it’s own way) – literally, “seek the things of itself.”
Test: Give up something you want for what someone else wants.
Irritable – “Easily angered or provoked.” A state of inward arousal that can be caused by almost anything, expressed with anger or shortness.
Test: Refuse to react to something that bothers you, and then think about why it bothers you. Give up getting your own way.
Resentful (count up wrongdoing) – literally, “Keeping score.”
Test: Stop counting! Refuse to feel sorry for yourself or get even.
Evil (rejoicing at wrong doing) – “Being glad or rejoicing when something bad happens to a person we don’t like.”
Test: Rush to help someone you don’t like when they are experiencing trouble.
Why not take “The Love Dare”?
The Love Dare
Stephen and Alex Kendrick (2008)
B and H Publishing Group