Love – looking out for number 1

Continuing the work of unpacking what Love is, this post will focus on a couple more characteristics. Between this post and the next one, I’m hoping to wrap it up.

The first is thing we’re looking at is the notion that love is not self-seeking. Here the idea is that to act in love means not seeking to further ones own profit or advantage. The easiest way for me to conceptualize this is simply that love isn’t “looking out for number 1”. All of us know someone whose mission in life is seemingly to make sure they always get ahead or come out on top. They insist things are even or fair, and they give to get. I again can see myself in this, where so much of our relationship (both dating and early marriage) was me trying to make sure I benefited. I would do nice things, fully expecting to have nice things done in return. I would go a little out of my way serve Shelley expecting that she would go farther out of her way to serve me.

Just like everything else we’ve seen about love so far, Paul again is stressing unselfishness.

Love keeps no record of being wronged. The King James version says, [love] thinketh no evil. The Greek words here are are logizomai and kakos. Logizomai means to keep record or account of, and also can be translated as to pass to one’s account, to impute. Additionally, kakos is the Greek word for wrong or evil. To be honest, the research on this one aggravated me. Some of the commentaries I read made me cringe. The reason is that some folks translate the meaning of this verse to be ‘forgive and forget’. I cannot, for the life of me, understand how someone can actually believe that we are to forgive and forget. One commentator even insinuated that not forgetting wrong’s committed against is sinning. To forgive is, supernaturally, a gift to ourselves to release us from a prison of bitterness and resentment. It is worshipful and God honoring. Without spending too much time on this rabbit trail, to suggest that we forget wrongs committed against us is to demand we do something beyond our control. I don’t know about you, but I can’t seem to will myself to forget something. I can try not to dwell on it, and I can do my best to not put myself in situations to be reminded of it, but I cannot force myself to forget.

Anyway, I think the gist here is three-fold. First, that love doesn’t keep a tick-mark tally of wrongs. It’s easy to keep score, but its also incredibly damaging.

Second, that when we love well, we don’t keep that tally in our back-pocket to use when we need to feel justified or exonerated. We don’t use those things as leverage to get our way, nor to rationalize our wrongs.

And finally, when we love well we don’t let our spouses wrongs become what defines them. None of us want to feel like we’re the sum total of our bad behaviors. When we love well, we guard against allowing ourselves to believe the worst about our spouse. No matter the wrongs committed, we’re still made in the image of God, infinitely valuable.

Here are a couple questions I’m challenged with:

1)   What’s my motivation for keeping a tally of my wife’s wrongs? I’d like to say I don’t keep a tally, but the truth is I do.

2)   When I act in self-seeking ways it is usually because I feel a sense of injustice. I think I’m getting the short end of the stick. What keeps me from simply talking to Shelley about it, rather than pulling some self-seeking stunt?

3)   Why do I feel a sense of injustice when Shelley benefits in our relationship?

KitchenConversation – Triggers and Trust

Apologies in advance….this one is a long one…

Watch for Part 2 soon!


Love – ego, brownie points and modesty

Love does not boast. When I think of boasting, I think of an arrogant narcissist. I sometimes resemble that definition. But, that isn’t exactly what the verse is pointing to. The idea herein is that of vainglory (a new word to me, but one that I like), which means “having or showing too much pride in your abilities or achievements”. Add to that, the idea of love not being proud. The Greek word there is, physioō. It means to be puffed up, to bear one’s self loftily. This falls under a broader definition, meaning to inflate, blow up, to cause to swell up. It is rooted in the context of a bellows; a device that produces a strong current of air when its sides are pressed together.

That’s interesting isn’t it?

Love isn’t full of a bunch of hot air!

Okay, that’s not what the verse it pointing to either.

Loving well means not getting an inflated ego because of loving well.

When we love well we don’t have to bring our spouses attention to where we’ve loved or served them. Ever feel inclined to do that? I sure do. I want to make darn sure Shelley knows how well I’ve loved her! So sometimes I try to point out those places – “Did you notice I unloaded the dishwasher?” “Remember, I came home early the other day so you wouldn’t have to worry about picking up our son from school.”

I notice that I am most likely to do this when I’m angling for something personally. Like when I want to get some extra time solo, or I want to go do something that will stretch how much time Shelley will have to be with our 3 boys without my help.

Another take-away: Love doesn’t use service as brownie points or leverage.

Well, crap. Here again, love doesn’t seem to be benefiting the lover, only the loved.

Let’s keep going.

Love does not, some translations say, behave unseemly or unbecomingly. This one is really difficult to unpack. The word origin casts a wide net from dealing with nakedness, shame and modesty to simply being rude or crude. Honestly, I don’t know where this one lands. So I’m going out on a limb a bit.

After researching it, what strikes me is the notion of decency and modesty. In a sense, it’s like Paul is saying that Love doesn’t make crude remarks, jokes filled with sexual innuendo, or lewd comments. Love wouldn’t behave in a way that brings disgrace or embarrassment to the person who sees or hears it. Further, Love would seek to protect against those things. Applied to loving my spouse, I wouldn’t make those types of comments to her, towards her, nor about other people. I would protect her from that stuff; including from people who might act that way and from media that would perpetuate that junk too. Have you ever noticed how casually the crude comments are used in prime time television?

Boiling it down, Love protects the virtues of decency and modesty.

Wow, how sexual integrity issues are the antithesis of love. By the very nature of the thing, I cannot love my spouse and be using pornography, visiting strip clubs, massage parlors or prostitutes. I cannot love my wife and insist she mimic what I’ve seen a mistress or the women in porn wear, do or say.

Wrapping this post up, I feel convicted, yet again. And I’m looking forward to seeing how all this ends up benefiting the lover, not just the loved one.