Loving Until it Hurts
In our series, Love Suffers Long, I have sensed an unusual pattern of behavior that has concerned pastors and church leaders for decades -- that is, how often loving someone through difficult times is necessary, but how little remedy or success may be seen in the results. The apostle Paul is a great example of someone who felt betrayed and isolated from the very church he was trying to help (the Corinthian church). Paul speaks about his difficulties in loving them, even to express the possible reason for the "thorn in his side', as Paul put it, ''the messenger of Satan". Learning to serve one another without reward or thinking it is an obligation can be difficult. Peter sensed this when Jesus tried to wash his feet at the Last Supper. He was outraged that his Lord would want to stoop to the lowest rung of the ladder for a servant. We must learn to love enough to embrace an other's pride and arrogance, and love them through their unlovable personality. We must learn to love enough to embrace another's pride and arrogance, and love them through their unlovable personality.
Paul was not happy with how the Corinthian church had treated him and makes a powerful statement when confronting them because of the constant harassment of his persecutors and a variety of trials he faced in his life. Paul resolves the issue when he says to the church, “I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake, for when I am weak, then I am strong . . . and I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved". It seems at times the more you love someone, the more you run the risk of being hurt. Do you struggle to serve without reward? Is it hard for you to look past one's pride and arrogance? Is it impossible for you to love enough to suffer through ill-treatment and painful sacrifice? If so, God's remedy is in the virtue of being patient with each other. Remember, Love Suffers Long.