1 Corinthians 13:3 says, "And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing."
With all our talk about "neighbors" over the last months, I'm afraid this verse blindsided me this week. God's been stretching me as I've tried to apply the things Pastor has been teaching us, and I THOUGHT I was doing a pretty good job of getting out of my comfort zone. That is, until I realized that I was failing miserable IN my comfort zone...
If you have a sister, you may be able to identify with the random attacks of missing her dearly. I have two sisters, both of whom live H.U.N.D.R.E.D.S. of miles away, so my attacks come rather regularly. One such attack came this week as I was driving home from work. I couldn't stop thinking about my baby sister, who is four weeks away from having her first child! I thought about the times I used to get so irritated with her. She knew better than to get in my personal space...haha! Poor girl! ;) But there was not a day that I wouldn't defend her to the core and stick up for the sister I loved with my whole heart! There is NOTHING my sisters could ever do or not do to lose my love.
1 Corinthians 13:4-11(NASB) is often quoted as our definition of true love:
4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.9For we know in part and we prophesy in part;10but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away.11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.
When applying these verses to my relationship with my sisters, I feel like I'm doing well, especially now that I'm an adult and have done "away with childish things (vs. 11)." It's easy for me to rejoice with my sisters, and I don't feel envious of them. I'm proud of them, and I'm thankful for what God has given them! I can't even remember the times they wronged me, well, except for that one time... ;)
As I was thinking about my sister on that drive home, it hit me like a ton of bricks that my relationships with my "sisters in Christ" should be exactly the same! I should love my sisters (and brothers too) as I love my own flesh and blood. Sure, there are things that will irritate. But if I'm going to reflect mature love in Christ, then my love for my sisters (okay, AND brothers) should be that of patience and kindness, free of envy, selfless, and humble.
So sisters, as we continue to give to the poor, let us not forget our family. After all, it is by our LOVE for our sisters and brothers that our "neighbors" will know that we are joint heirs with Jesus (John 13:35).