This is probably going to seem like it’s coming from left field… but I’ve seen this Bible passage a lot lately, so here we go.
Colossians. Chapter 3.
I love the instructions for living found in the Bible. There are so many chapters and verses that I go back to in times of celebration and in struggle. I don’t pretend to do it right, or even well, but I do try. Every day.
I have a few favorite Bible verses and passages that I have memorized. I use them as a mantra. I find, that for me, repeating verses of instruction drowns out the thoughts that may lead to action that may lead to a painful mistake (or seven). Kind of like “counting to ten”. It’s all really about the pause before speaking, to choose your words more wisely. And love, lots of it, covers a multitude of mistakes. (That’s in the Bible, too.)
Love is shown, in so many ways, and so many words, all through the Bible.
1 Corinthians 16:14
Knowing certain passages serves me well in times of high emotion. I find that verses will pop into my mind, as they are written on my heart by the act of memorizing. It has a calming effect, as I remember that the trials of my life are not new to the human race, only new to me. There really is “nothing new under the sun”, including every hard time you have ever been through. I’m grateful for Sunday School teachers who help kids memorize verses. That’s love.
Jesus himself was put through every trial imaginable, starting at birth, as were his family and friends surrounding him, so that we would have a clear and tangible history of instruction of living through trials. That’s love.
The same is true for celebrations. We are instructed to love, dance, hope, encourage, forgive, show mercy, help others. The instructions always go back to love, and it is defined in Corinthians.
Colossians 3 has such great life instruction. Verses 15-17 call for peaceful hearts. It would be such a sweet world if everyone shook off the negative and lived as “God’s favorites”, living with happy hearts and lives. There is something beautiful about a person who is being loved well. A sweetness on their face. A peace about them. It is sometimes that they are loved by family, or friends, or a spouse, and it is sometimes by being loved by God alone, truly trusting in His care. It shows. And it is sweetly beautiful.
What’s not so beautiful? Jealousy and a bitter attitude. Jealousy and bitterness seem so heavy to carry, and we are instructed to shake them off, quit complaining, live with joy and peace. Find the good. I’ve never had a jealous moment and I’m incredibly, incredibly thankful for that. It must be terrible to feel the squeeze of a jealous heart. I am only recently truly understanding how jealousy affects people, and I’m always so sorry to hear it. It’s sad to me that someone would be too busy begrudging others to create their own vision of happiness. It must be a terrible feeling to want what someone else has so much that it twists your heart, occupies your mind, and leads you to say and do hurtful things. All because someone else has been blessed differently than you. Forgiveness and compassion of those around us like that… that’s love.
Here is a great truth. We are all blessed. Differently. We are all gifted. Differently. So that as we move through the world, our gifts compliment each other’s. That’s love.
We also all have inherent struggles. While I don’t struggle with jealousy, I do struggle with other feelings. I have worked really hard on this, and have grown immensely in the last few years. I get my feelings hurt and retreat, and up goes a wall. I used to cover it so well. I don’t anymore. I can’t. My husband sees everything, even as I try to mask it. He feels it, is absolutely in tune with every bit of it, and kicks over the bricks of my self-protection, no matter how quick I am. He is continually trying to find a way to give me room, and yet hold me close. He is diligent. It’s an adjustment for me. A big one, and at times I have fought it. A lot. I think that is most likely pride mixed in with self-protection. I feel vulnerable and exposed, and he loves me through it, as does God, and that is the very definition of grace. That’s love.
I am always genuinely happy to hear of my family’s and friend’s accomplishments, vacations, new babies, etc. I love to cheer people on as they succeed. I love to share inspiring people and stories and things. I love to celebrate my friends. My heart completely subscribes to the adage “a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved and a joy shared is a joy doubled”. That’s love.
I have always encouraged my kids to flip the script, find the good, see the blessings in each day. They have heard me say “you can do the worst task joyfully in good company” so many times. If they are having a not-so-great day, after hearing them out, I ask “what was the best part of the day?” Or “what’s the silver lining?” I started that with them early, to groom them to look for the good. It never fails that there are quite a few best parts of even the hardest of days. Even those hard days end with us saying that the best part is that at least we are together. Now that they are grown, it is an absolute joy to hear and see them live life with a keen sense of inner joy. That’s love.
My pastor once said that “even if you don’t believe in God, the Bible way of living is a great way to live”. That’s true. Because of love.
The Golden Rule may be old, but it is not antiquated and is still relevant. That’s love. In action.