This study touches on subjects that have been gone over in detail in previous studies. Before going over this study, please make sure you have a complete understanding of the the study on Love is… Part 1: Love and the Opposition.
In the attempt to rid ourselves of selfishness, the real anti-love, we must be able to identify when we are being selfish. It is good to begin with looking at our own motivations for doing the things we do, but if we rely only on motivation it is possible that we could overlook areas where we are selfish without realizing it. Paul gives us a short list in verses 4-7 of 1 Corinthians 13 that show what love is and is not. These are evidences of dying to self.
The first attribute of love that Paul lists in 1 Corinthians 13:4 is long suffering or patience. Consider the meaning of the the word long suffering. YHVH has said and shown to us time and again just how long suffering He is towards us. Rather than allowing His wrath to fall on us when we make a mistake, He is patient for a long time. He waits for us to correct our mistakes. It is only when we intentionally continue to live in sin and heap more and more sin upon ourselves that His long suffering ends. We can see His long suffering right now on a worldly scale. I can say without a doubt that He has been patient for much longer than I normally am.
Selfishness can easily be disguised. Many times a person who thinks they are being loving by correcting a person quickly is, in reality, being impatient.
Imagine you have witnessed a conversation between two people. The first person mentions that they have bought this beautiful dog. The second person quickly begins pointing out flaws in the dog. It is obvious to you that the second person has said something offensive to the first. You think you understand the position of the first person, so you jump in and give the second person a good tongue-lashing.
You may feel justified in aiding the apparent ‘victim, but what you don’t know is that the second person is a professional at spotting canine health issues. The intention of that person was only to help the one with the dog by telling them what health issues to look out for as the dog gets older.
What has happened in your haste? Not only is it possible that you have wronged the second person, but you may have just caused unnecessary offense in the first person, and they’ve lost any possible benefit of the second person’s knowledge. How differently this could have turned out if you had only just taken the time to put yourself in the shoes of the second person before you rushed to help the first! Selfishness has disguised itself.
Selfishness is concerned about its own feelings. In the example just offered, it was worried about taking care of a perceived wrong quickly, instead of righteously. Impatience worries about its own frustrations and its own motives, and many times shows itself in the form of anger. How do we combat this? By putting yourself in the shoes of those around you, trying to understand why they may be acting the way they are. When you feel yourself becoming frustrated or angry, instead of reacting, stop, take note that you are angry, and choose to be understanding.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated. Prov. 14:17
Be not quick in your spirit to become angry,
for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20
Are you patient with your neighbor in their walk to perfection with YHVH? We are not all on the same level of maturity. In this walk, there are changes that must happen in each one of us. Some of the changes that may have been easy for you are harder for your brother. Maybe your bother hasn’t even begun working on the changes you have made, not yet knowing that there needs to be correction in those areas of his life. Just remember, you were once in the same place of your walk that your brother is in. Ephesians 4 talks about the maturing of the church beginning with instruction on how we are to treat one another during this time.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:1-3
Impatience shows itself in our unwillingness to forgive others. We see Peter struggling with this when he asked Jesus,
“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
Jesus’ answer shows us patience through forgiveness.
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22
The Hebrew has two words that have been translated into the English, סָלַח (çalach) and נָשָׂא (nāśāʾ). סָלַח (çalach) means to release or pardon, but the word I want to focus on is נָשָׂא (nāśāʾ). This word means to bear or carry, and is the same word used in the third commandment where we are told that we are not to נָשָׂא (nāśāʾ), bear or carry, the name of YHVH in vain. (Please see The Third Commandment – Carrying His Name in Vain.) With this definition, it can be said that we are to carry the person who has done damage to us. How do we do this?
1. An extension of the word נָשָׂא (nāśāʾ) means a rise in elevation. By extension it can mean to remove guilt and its penalties. Selfishness demands a payment for the damage done to a person. It can say things like:
- “I will not forgive until you apologize to me.”
- “I forgive you, but I won’t forget.”
- “I’m not finished being angry with you.”
- “I choose to hold a grudge.”
- “I will put a ‘wall’ to make sure I do not get hurt again.”
However, love via patience and forgiveness doesn’t require a penalty. It says, “You owe me nothing, not even an apology.”
2. Another extension of the definition of נָשָׂא (nāśāʾ) is to “to exalt, honor,” as the lifting up of a person in status. Our anger or hurt can cause us to treat others as less important or unworthy of our love. However, when we act in love, patience, and forgiveness it will also show in our treatment of others.
Is there somebody you are having trouble forgiving? Have you put yourself in their shoes? Do you understand the reasons behind the way they acted? It is time to forgive them. It is time to remove their guilt and your desire for their punishment. It is time to honor them, and exalt them back to the good standing with yourself that you give all of your loved ones.
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:14, 15
We are to forgive in the same was as our Father forgave us.
as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalms 103:12
YHVH wants us to be mirror images of Him. He has been and continues to be long suffering with us. He is patient when we make mistakes. He forgives those who have dishonored Him, but have changed to follow Him wholeheartedly. He doesn’t make us jump through hoops before forgiving us, He simply asks us to love and serve Him. Once He has forgiven us, He doesn’t bring up the past or lord it over us. He frees us from it completely. He then goes on to restore our honor and exalt us to the position of His sons. Is this the love you show to others?
“Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” Matthew 18:23-25