This summer my pastor did a sermon series entitled The Many Shades of Love that covered the following topics: Loving Our God, Loving Our Neighbor, Loving Our Brothers, Loving Our Family, Loving Our Rebels, Loving Our Failures, Loving Our Addicts, and Loving Our Enemies. Although each topic centered on its own books, chapters and verses, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 connected them all.
This morning in my time with the Lord I read 1 Corinthians 13 and kept returning to verse 5, “. . . it [love]is not resentful.” Unsure why that particular passage was resonating with me today even though I’ve read it numerous times, I continued with my devotionals that included Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost For His Highest.
When I came upon this section, “never disregard a conviction that the Holy Spirit brings to you. If it is important enough for the Spirit of God to bring it to your mind, it is the very thing He is detecting in you,” it became clear why the bible passage stuck with me. I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit.
Unsure of the nature of the conviction, I went into prayer asking God to search me and bring to my understanding what needed repentance and change. I don’t know if you’ve ever asked THE holy and righteous God to reveal a sin in you, but it’s frightening. What was He going to find?
Turns out that what He found in me wasn’t exactly new. He’d brought it to my attention before but I guess I hadn’t resolved it to His liking, so He brought it again. What was I resentful about? I resented having been a supportive friend to two people who turned around and deserted me at a time when I needed them most.
In 2013 I had a very invasive surgery with complications that left me in the ICU for almost a week. The people I considered my closest friends were not there to support me or my husband as we went through this emotionally draining time. As D and my mom waited hours for me to get out of surgery, other friends that I had known for a lot less time and those who lived thousands of miles away were constantly checking in and supporting him via text. The two who should have been there, weren’t. Although local, they never came to see me in the hospital or at home while I was recovering. Years of friendship and they barely made an effort. Treated me with about as much warmth and care as you’d show a passing stranger.
For two years I’ve been holding on to that resentment and distanced myself from them as a result. Though I tried to move past it, my heart was hardened. Which is why when one of them went through some troubling times not too long ago I did not reach out and was not there to support. I’m ashamed to admit it.
When you leave things incomplete, God will keep bringing them up to you until you resolve them. I’d sought forgiveness from God, but never from the ones who hurt me. If you don’t know God, you’d think it insane to ask forgiveness of those who offend you, but that’s just what we’re asked to do. I needed to ask forgiveness for holding a grudge and not letting go. It’s not unsurprising that the Holy Spirit convicted me of it again.
Without Christ in me I do not have the love that is patient and kind, that does not envy or boast, that is not arrogant or rude. The one that does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, does not rejoice at wrongdoings, but rejoices with the truth. The love that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.
With Christ in me I do. And it is Christ that I need to help me let go of that resentment. To let me forgive once and for all and to make peace with what happened. By myself I can’t do it. As believers, we know that at times the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
But that’s no excuse to stay complacent and not aim to grow spiritually. The God that elected and saved me did so that I should no longer live, but that He should live in me. The God who lives in me is the LOVE of the bible. With Him I will live His Love and be able to show it to those who have hurt me.
I pray that if you’re like me and struggling to live God’s love, you’ll seek Him for the strength to do so.