It’s Time to “Chat!” What Do You Think about Liv? Let Me Know In This Survey!

Can you believe it’s been six months since God gave the instruction and permission to launch this website?!? He’s revealed much to me during this time, and I’ve loved sharing it with you, post by post! As I wrote in my very first post, my prayer is that, through my life and this site, as I have dedicated both to Him, you will be brought to Jesus, and the river of life will flow out of your heart in a powerful way! Maybe Liv has been a blessing to you, and God has used it to do just that…bring you closer to Him and make beautiful changes in your life to look more and more like Him. Maybe it hasn’t been what you were hoping for or needing. Or maybe you just don’t have time to read one more thing; your plate is already full!

This brings me to today. The LORD has directed me to take this time to check in with you all and see what’s going well…and what isn’t. We’ve compiled a survey to help me serve you (and, therefore, Him) better. As always, the LORD will continue to drive us on this venture; He has chosen this medium to hear your voice in order to fine-tune some things to better meet you where you’re at.

Your feedback is super important, so please take a few minutes to honestly answer the questions in the survey below. They’re anonymous, so I hope that helps you feel more comfortable in sharing how you really feel and what God is laying on your heart. You only have to take the survey once; there’s no need to come back every day and lobby for your vote! : ) Let’s get started!

Emphasis–It Changes Our Perspective

“I never said you should say that!”

My daughter wrote a sentence down on a piece of paper the other day, brought it to me, and proceeded to ask of me what I’m going to ask of you: See the sentence above? Read it seven different times, changing the emphasis from one word to the next. For example:

First Time:I never said you should say that!”

Second Time: “I never said you should say that!”

Third Time: “I never said you should say that!”

Continue through until you’ve read it all seven times…

…Did you notice how putting the emphasis on different words in the sentence changed its implied meaning? The first time implied that you never said it, but someone else did. The second time, you were emphatic that you never said that…and maybe you’re even a little annoyed or upset that someone would say you would. The third time, you never said it…out loud, but you probably thought it…

Same sentence…different perspectives and implications.

This got me thinking about where I put the emphasis when I go through situations, when I hear something, what I dwell on in my thoughts, etc., and how that emphasis directs where my focus and perspective is. In the sentences above, it was on the bolded words, but maybe in thinking about other situations, it’s on the tone someone used when they said something, what wasn’t accomplished, how someone rudely pushed themselves in front of me, etc. Where we put the emphasis can tend to distract us from where our emphasis should be…at least, for me.

“Rejoice at all times.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16 BSB

We tend to put the emphasis on “rejoice” in this verse.

Rejoice = To experience and be aware of God’s favor, causing us to be glad
“Rejoice” in Greek = “xaírō”
Xaírō” = “xar” (favorably disposed, leaning toward) + “xáris” (grace)

Xaírō gives me the beautiful picture of God, leaning His head down toward His kiddos, willing to give us His undeserved approval, support, and kindness.

Photo by Caleb Jones on Unsplash

What if we were to put the emphasis on “all times” in the verse above? If someone gives you a nasty look, you remember God’s favor toward you and are glad; I think this would make it easier to respond in kindness. When someone says something snarky, not only remember God’s favor, but sit in it…experience it; this should cause you to be glad! When you’re afraid, remember God’s favor and be glad He’s caring for you! This is a hard thing to do all the time! I’ll admit; it’s not always on my radar, yet it’s something we’re commanded to do…and the emphasis can make a big difference on how we apply it to our lives.

To me, the big game changer is “being aware.” Have you ever gone to buy something new to you, thinking you’d never seen anyone have it before? Then, after you buy it, you see the same thing here, there, and everywhere?!? It’s not that these things suddenly appeared; it’s just that you’re more aware of them. What if we did that with God’s favor? We’d look for it; we’d notice it; we’d focus on it; and we’d remember it.

Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

This is something I need to focus more on! In fact, while I’ve been working on this post, I’ve tried to do this more often…to be more aware of His favor. It’s honestly turned a frustrated perspective around several times for me, like an about face! Thank You, LORD, for bending over toward me, supporting me by teaching me through Your Spirit and Your word; Your kindness overwhelms me!

I think of the picture at the beginning of this post. The kiddo is looking off at something that has his gaze, but his mom is trying to redirect his attention…his focus. Sometimes, I’m so in the thick of things; I need someone to come along beside me and lovingly help me redirect my attention…my focus. When I focus on the negative, chances are, my perspective is negative. When I focus on the positive, like my God leaning toward me, willing to give me His approval, support, and kindness, my perspective will, most likely, change to be more positive, as it has many times this week.

Do you have people in your life who will redirect your focus and maybe even point out God’s favor in something you didn’t see yourself?
Are you this kind of person in others’ lives? Do you look for and experience God’s willingness to give you His approval, support, and kindness and boldly help others to do this, too? I say “boldly,” because it takes a special kind of person to break through the comfortable, assess the timing, and help direct others’ focus toward God’s favor! It’s a kind of person who’s dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit!

A Sensitive Subject–Is “Love” and Reciprocation the Basis for a Healthy Relationship?

A Bucknell University survey of individuals mostly in their early twenties focused “on how men and women react to relationship situations,…both [men and women] felt that a partner whose love wasn’t equal to their own was worse than unequal sexual attraction…Emotional commitment and sex both play a role in a relationship’s success—but Dr. Wade,” a researcher who led the study, “didn’t expect commitment to trump sex for both genders.”1

We all want to be loved…truly loved…but Satan takes advantage of this natural longing to tempt people to look outside of God’s design, while making the case for it in the name of “love.”

I’ve been looking at different Biblical interpretations related to love the last couple posts, as I want to Biblically know how to respond. Here’s another one:

Interpretation: Various Biblical passages show homosexuality as negative for reasons such as sexual violence, violations of humans’ honor, health and lineage concerns, making the nation of Israel appear just like other nations, older men taking advantage of younger men, idolatry, and lust, but there isn’t any evidence that the Bible addresses homosexual relationships that are based on “love” and reciprocation.

This goes back to what love is, according to Scripture. First John 4:8 says that “…GOD is love.” “Love,” here, is the exact same Greek word used for “love” throughout 1 Corinthians 13: “agapé” (see the “What’s Love Got to Do with Me” post link below for more on this). When we read about love in these verses, we’re really reading about God–and what HE prefers, which is what “agapé” (love) means. Too often, we focus on what WE want, what WE think we deserve, why WE’RE right…When we focus on WE or ME, we lose the point of love…to focus on GOD and what HE chooses.

The second basis for this interpretation, reciprocation, can be a dangerous pillar to stand on. Just because something’s reciprocated doesn’t mean it’s love (what God prefers), which is why we have to look at Scripture deeper.

  • In Genesis 1:27-28, God created a man and a woman. He blessed the two, giving them unique abilities and qualities to, through their union together, increase the number of humankind on the earth, which was one of their roles/responsibilities (in Verse 28) given to them by God. We see this, again, in the instructions God gave Noah to take “a male and his female” of each animal into the ark in order to “keep the seed (species) alive on…the earth” after the flood (Genesis 7:2-3).
  • God commands, in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, that a man is not to have sexual intercourse (including oral or anal sex) with another man. The Hebrew word for what God thinks about this, in these verses, is “toebah;” it means that it’s morally disgusting to God, hated, and, therefore, not desired for His people. This command is less about Israel and more about the LORD, their God. Over and over, throughout the Old Testament, He tells them not to live by other people’s laws, but by what He judges as right and wrong…what He prescribed/is owed (statutes). It’s not just commanded for Israel, either, since we see the same directions several times in the New Testament (Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy 1), addressed to Gentile (non-Jewish) believers. This command further emphasizes God’s design for sexual relations within marriage (one man and one woman–Matthew 19:4-9) and His disapproval of the kind of behavior listed, as He’s holy. Believers in Christ are to be the LORD’s “obedient children, not conforming ourselves to the former lusts,” before we knew, but “as He Who called [us] is holy, [we] also be holy in all our conduct” (1 Peter 1:14-15 NKJV). God desires that we, His kids, live committed to Him, honoring Him and His standards, since they reflect Who He is.
  • Reciprocation is a pillar that crumbles. It’s apparent throughout Scripture that if someone joins me in something God disapproves of, He still disapproves of it; there are just two people committing the sin, not one.

If certain thoughts, desires, or behaviors violate God’s relationship standards (see the 1 Corinthians 6:9 post link below for more on this), and we choose to not abide by them, we aren’t abiding in Him (1 John 3:24). We’re, basically, developing our own design; viewing our creation/standards as better than God’s; and serving ourselves over God. This is idolatry, which is referenced often throughout Scripture as something prohibited.

“…Your people, again, committed evil in Your sight, and once more, You let their enemies conquer them. Yet whenever Your people turned and cried to You, again, for help, You listened once more from heaven. In Your wonderful mercy, You rescued them many times! You warned them to return to Your Law, but they became proud and obstinate and disobeyed Your commands. They did not follow Your regulations, by which people will find life, if only they obey. They stubbornly turned their backs on You and refused to listen.”

Nehemiah 9:28-29 NLT

“For from Him [all things originate] and through Him [all things live and exist] and to Him are all things [directed]. To Him be glory and honor forever! Amen. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship.”

Romans 11:36, 12:1 AB

1 Sinrich, Jenn. “This is What Men Care about Most in Relationships—and It’s Not Sexual Attraction.” THE Healthy, 8 September 2017, https://www.thehealthy.com/family/relationships/reciprocated-love-over-sexual-attraction/

Love: A Sensitive Subject–What Does “Homosexual” Refer to in 1 Corinthians 6:9?

I’m sure you’ve noticed–There are a LOT of words in the Bible that we don’t use in our typical conversations. I tend to call them “church words.” You know…the ones we act like we know (and we do have an idea, sometimes), because we’ve heard them so much. Yet, if someone asked us, “What’s that mean?” we’d have a hard time coming up with a confident answer. First Corinthians 6:9 has a bunch of those words, for me. Yes, I know what “homosexual” means, but I learned that, Biblically, this word’s referring to more than we tend to think it is.

Photo by Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

I’ve been digging into some of God’s standards, since 1 Corinthians 13:6 says “Love doesn’t celebrate or enjoy violating God’s justice or abusing God’s standards.” People, saved and unsaved, have varying views of what His standards are. Since Paul talks, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, about those who are guilty, in God’s court, of violating God’s standards, because He’s holy, I figured that’s a good place to start. Here’s what I found some of those “big church words” in Verse 9 mean, since they relate to this topic of love in more ways than one:

  • HomosexualAccording to its Greek word, “arsenokoités,” this refers to men (“arsen”) who have non-procreative sexual activity (i.e., anal or oral)–“Sodomites.” However, when I looked at “koité,” one part of this compound word, I see it refers to so much more:
    • Voluntarily defiling the marriage bed by having sexual relations with someone outside of marriage (Heb. 13:4)
      • Adulterersomeone who’s married having sex with someone he/she isn’t married to; being unfaithful to God, even in the mind and heart-levels (Matthew 5:27-30)
      • FornicatorSomeone who isn’t married having sex with someone else who isn’t married; this includes prostitution, but it’s also referring to those who are sold out to (a slave of, under the control of) sin
    • Having various types of sexual intercourses or a collection of sexual intercourses, lasting only for a short time, without careful judgment, lacking morals
    • Those living together, who aren’t married
    • Handing oneself over to feeding his/her strong sexual desires (emotions and/or thoughts related to sex; the force that mobilizes someone to willingly act on those sexual emotions and thoughts; one’s mood), which violate God’s laws; this causes sexual excitement and can include both feeding his/her desires on the inside, by pleasing the senses, or actually satisfying them on the outside with physical pleasure
    • Ruining the purity of sexuality, which God created to be special when shared by a man and a woman within marriage, by contaminating it with sin (engaging in sexual activities outside of God’s boundaries)
    • Talking or writing about sex in a “humorous” way
  • Idolatorsomeone sold out to (a slave of, under the control of) sin, respecting and promising to be loyal to a master other than God, and/or worshipping (serving, literally or figuratively) a false god; also includes fornication and adultery, as they’re considered prostituting yourself to another god
  • Effeminate
    • A pre-teen or teen boy kept by a man who desires or, actually, experiences sexual activities with the boy
    • A male submitting his body to unnatural sexual conduct that’s considered indecent or offensive to God
      • Having various types of sexual intercourses or a collection of sexual intercourses, lasting only for a short time, without careful judgment, lacking morals
      • Includes feelings of sexual desire as well as sexual behavior or gestures that are considered indecent and/or offensive to God
      • Encompasses sexually abusing a child
    • A boy or man having qualities typical of a woman, whether they be behaviors, gestures, body movements, style, etc., rather than traditionally masculine attributes
    • Men having softer, more delicate features, like a woman, rather than course, rough features, typical of a man

I had these definitions fresh in my mind, as I thought about the following Biblical interpretation.

Interpretation: Authors of the Bible probably didn’t have any idea of sexual orientation (being who a person thinks they are because of whom they’re attracted to romantically/sexually), since the person who came up with the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” didn’t do so until the 1800s.

The individual who is said to have come up with the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” didn’t like the current terms of the day, believing them to be more suppressive. This individual was a gay rights activist and supporter, believing the nation-state, now called Germany, should have minimal rights when it came to interfering in a person’s private life. So, while the terms we know of as “homosexual” and “heterosexual” weren’t, apparently, around, taking a look at the “big church words” above and their meanings, we see these desires and behaviors were also around in Bible times.

What word/definition in the above list of “big church words” meant something different…or included something more…than you originally thought? LEAVE A COMMENT! I’D LIKE TO KNOW!

LOVE–Am I Responsible for My Sexual Orientation?

I’ve seen and heard the phrase, “Love is love,” a lot. You, probably, have, too. According to the Urban Dictionary, which is a web site where people, via the internet, weigh in on slang words and phrases, “Love is love,” is said to mean: 1) “The love expressed by an individual or couple is valid, regardless of the sexual orientation or gender identity of their lover or partner”1 and/or 2) “It’s not about the sex or gender of the person, but how they treat you! So, as long as you’re getting the love and affection that you need to be happy in love, then it doesn’t and/or shouldn’t matter what gender is loving you. Often a term used by bisexuals or those who have no issues with swinging with the same-sex as long as the loving is good!”1

What do we do, if our kids are in the car, and we see a sign like this? Do we address it or turn away?
What do we say, if something like this comes up, when we’re with our friends or co-workers? Do we know Truth well enough to talk about Scriptures that relate to this topic?

This post and the next one, at least, I’m going to look at Biblical interpretations of sexuality and dig into Scripture to see what God reveals about His sexuality standards. This continues the “Love Series,” if you want to call it that, which has been exposing what love does and doesn’t do, according to 1 Corinthians 13.

As a refresher from last post,…

Love Doesn’t:

  • Celebrate or enjoy violating God’s justice or abusing God’s standards (Vs. 6). I can think of many instances in our society where God’s standards are being abused…and celebrated. What He approves is being replaced (and enjoyed) by what WE approve, what WE want, what serves US. This isn’t love!

Verse 6 of 1 Corinthians 13 instructs us not to abuse God’s standards, so it’s imperative that we look deeply into God’s Word to understand what His standards truly are. It’s only then that we can properly embrace a Biblical world view of this topic, making sure what we believe isn’t merely approved by us or is what we want, but it aligns with what God prefers (the definition of the Greek word, “agapé”–love–in 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:16).

Photo by Alex Ronsdorf on Unsplash
Interpretation: The term “homosexual” refers to someone who’s sexually attracted to members of the same sex. It can refer to their actions, but it’s also been described as their “sexual orientation,” which relates more to one’s attraction to members of the same sex (be it acted on or not). Some believe most Biblical translations appear to refer to behavior (actions), rather than orientation (i.e. attraction), so what gender someone’s attracted to isn’t their choice.
In 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Paul talks about those who are guilty, in God’s court, of violating standards God requires, because He’s holy. God requires a heartful dedication to Him, which is shown in caring for, guarding, and observing His standards. Paul’s letting people know that living in a pattern of sin, which opposes God’s standards, will cause them to not be assigned a portion of opportunities that would’ve been allotted to them for a reward/inheritance in the Kingdom of God. This can be rewards to have been received on earth, if one lives in a way that is ruled by King Jesus (rather than placing oneself or some other god as king of one’s life), or in heaven, including spiritual blessings.
According to Verse 9, homosexuality is among the violations of God’s holy standards. I’m going to dig deeper into the meaning of the word “homosexuality” more next post, as it and other violations in Verses 9 and 10 tend to need, in my opinion, some further clarification. Please know, for now, that the term translated “homosexual,” in the Greek, is multifaceted and includes an array of behaviors and feelings. Yup! Feelings. It includes unnatural, indecent, offensive, immoral, or perverse feelings of sexual desire as well as actions relating to the same. I agree; a lot of what is addressed in Scripture appears to focus on actions (behavior), but when we look at the meaning in the original Greek, feelings of sexual desire (aka “orientation”) is addressed. The Greek word, translated “homosexual” is “arsenokoités;” which comes from two Greek words: 1) “arsén” (“male”) and 2) “koité.” “Koité” is where we get the deeper meanings of “homosexuality.” One of “koité’s” meanings is “chambering” or “wantonness.” Neither one of those are words I typically use, but part of the definition of “wantonness” is to wrongfully allow yourself to enjoy the satisfaction of a very strong sexual desire. Since this is included in what violates God’s standards, sexual desires outside of God’s design would be a violation. As I looked into last post, God intentionally and uniquely designed a male and female to join together to more fully reflect His nature. As we’ll look deeper into the violations of God’s standards next post, we’ll see the male and female union is designed to be enjoyed within marriage.
The Bible is full of a recurrent theme: God looks on the heart, as what comes from there can make what God created as special, not.

And He said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

~Jesus (Mark 7:20-23 ESV)
We may look at the things listed above and think of the actions involved, but many are unseen (i.e., evil thoughts, coveting, envy). In Matthew 5:27-28, Christ also says that if a man even looks at a woman with a strong sexual desire (attraction…or “orientation,” as many would put it today), he commits adultery, even if he doesn’t outwardly act on the desire. Here’s another example: If I don’t flaunt a win outwardly or actually steal something, I’m still committing evil in my heart because of my pride, coveting, envy, and/or evil thoughts brewing deep within. What’s in our hearts affects our thoughts and actions and is extremely important to God! “Orientation” is determining where we are…what our position is. We make this determination in our hearts.
Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash
Questions/Conversation Starters:
What does your heart say about who you think you are and where you stand regarding your identity?
Is your heart determined to agree with what God says in His Word, or are you excluding Him from your desires and actions, serving a different king?

Thank you, LORD, for sending Your Son, Jesus, to die…that His blood can cover and forgive all sins…visible AND invisible!

1 qbox350. “Love is love” Urban Dictionary, https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Love%20is%20love, 22 January 2020.

2 Orators Speak. “love is love” Urban Dictionary, https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Love%20is%20love, 22 March 2011.

What’s Love NOT to Do (Part 3)–A Sensitive Subject

I embarked on an internet search to see what people think love is NOT…Whew! There’s a LOT out there! The thing is, it doesn’t matter how many PhDs someone has, whom they work for that gives them clout, or how many people follow them. What DOES matter is if they agree with what the Author of Love…true Love…says love is…and isn’t. In the last two posts, I dug into several things God says love isn’t, according to 1 Corinthians 13. In this post, I’m looking at additional parameters. I pray God reveals something new or thought-provoking to you today in this well-traveled chapter of the Bible, as He has me…So, what doesn’t love do?!?

Love Doesn’t:

  • Celebrate or enjoy violating God’s justice or abusing God’s standards (Vs. 6). I can think of many instances in our society where God’s standards are being abused…and celebrated. What He approves is being replaced (and enjoyed) by what WE approve, what WE want, what serves US. Whether we like it or not, this isn’t what God prefers and, therefore, isn’t love!

Photo by Monika Kozub on Unsplash

I’ve heard different reasons why some think and believe the Bible allows for homosexuality and various gender identities beyond man and woman…and why these individuals believe Christians should emend what they teach in order to look at these topics from that point of view…one which, according to them, may show God’s nature more completely.  This is a sensitive subject and one that is interpreted in various ways. Verse 6 of 1 Corinthians 13 instructs us not to abuse God’s standards, so it’s imperative that we look deeply into God’s Word to understand what His standards truly are. It’s only then that we can properly embrace a Biblical world view of this topic, making sure what we believe isn’t merely approved by us or is what we want, but it aligns with what God prefers (the definition of the Greek word, “agapé”–love–in 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:16).

Some hold the thought (and teaching) that Scripture says God began by creating humans (male and female), but they don’t believe the Bible says these are the only two gender identities that God created in time. If we look at Genesis 1:27 (GWT), which has been included in their case, it says, “God created humans….” There is no “began” in this verse. “He created them male and female.” There are no other genders or gender identities listed as being created. “A unique feature of Biblical Hebrew is the use of the waw-consecutive or waw-conversive form of a verb in a narrative, as in these passages from Genesis. For example, in Genesis 2:7, the Hebrew word יָצַר – “yatsar,” means “to form or fashion,” and in the waw-consecutive, וַיִִּיצֶר –“and he formed.” The word in Genesis 2:22 is וַיִּבֶן – “and he built,” the waw consecutive of בָּנָה – “banah,” “to build.” The waw-consecutive is formed by the Qal imperfect of a verb with the waw prefix – ו. While the imperfect generally conveys the future, the addition of the waw converts the sentence to the past.”1 God created male and female on the 6th day of creation (Genesis 1:27-31); He didn’t create anything else between then and when the Word reads, “The heavens and the earth were completed with everything that was in them” (Genesis 2:1 NETB).
I also find it fascinating that the Hebrew word for “male” or “man” is formed from the Hebrew word “zakar,” which means “remember.” The Hebrew word for “female” or “woman” is formed from the Hebrew word “naqab,” which means “to pierce, bore, appoint.” We see in Genesis 2:21-22 that God made a hole in Adam’s side (pierce/bore), took a rib out, closed up his flesh where He took it from, and “built” a woman into a particular form. Since “naqab” also means “appoint,” we know that God assigned women a job…a role. So, what was it, as a woman’s role in today’s society seems to be getting center stage? According to Genesis 2:18, women are:
* To be a physical helper to men. The Hebrew word for this, “azar,” means, “to help, succor” (to assist and support in times of hardship and distress).
* To correspond to men. Your version of the Bible may read, “suitable” or “complementary.” The Hebrew word is “neged,” which, in this context, means that it’s according to “what is in front of, corresponding to.” This helps us understand that women are equivalent to men in character and form, yet, in certain respects, they give more clarity to the full nature of God.
* Viewed by God as satisfactory in quality, just as man is/was.
In dissecting this meaning, it’s clear to me that if you were born a woman, the reason and way you exist, the way you look (including your shape), your small (but significant) qualities were configured not only as part of a particular group of people that God built with a purpose of helping, aiding, and supporting men, but also as a work of art, within this kind of people (Ephesians 2:10)…a visual to help others see and understand the full nature of God. I also observe, from the meanings of “male” and “female” and the Hebrew words they come from, that God’s purpose for man was to remember: 1) who created him (God), 2) that he was built/formed from the dust of the ground, 3) how and why God created woman, and 4) that his purpose is to work, guard, and protect as well as to visibly show the nature of God.
These are important factors in realizing God’s intention for the people He created.

There are some additional thoughts, relating to views about sexuality, to compare with Scripture, but I’m going to stop here, for now. Check back next post for a closer look.

 

1 “GENESIS–GOD’S CREATION OF MAN AND WOMAN.” biblescripture.net, https://biblescripture.net/Creation.html. Accessed 5 October 2021.

What’s Love NOT to Do (Part 2)–Mouth (and Heart) Matters

Have you ever been really mad, and words start flowing out of your mouth that just aren’t like you? I have! I’ve thought, “Where did that come from?!?” knowing full well it was a deeper matter than just what was going on at the moment.

We’ve been digging into matters of love in 1 Corinthians 13 for a number of posts: What love IS and what it ISN’T. In this post, we’re going to continue looking at what love doesn’t do…and we’ll find that anger and frustration aren’t the only things that produce free-flowing words or insensitive actions.

Love Doesn’t:

  • Brag/show off (Vs. 4). I’m sure we’ve all known people who tend to one-up any story we’ve told, sharing a better experience, having a more prized possession, going to a more amazing place,…It’s pretty safe to say that this type of person consistently makes withdrawals from someone’s bank of perceived worth, rather than placing deposits, as true love does. As with many of the “don’ts” in love’s list, bragging, itself, is not a sin, as zeal is a positive form of jealousy. What or who we brag about, however, is what determines the heart and whether or not it is what God prefers (agapé love).

23“This is what the LORD says: ‘The wise man is not to boast in his wisdom; the strong man is not to boast in his strength; and the rich man is not to boast in his riches.

24If they want to brag, they should brag that they understand and know Me. They should brag that I, the LORD, act out of love, righteousness, and justice on the earth. This kind of bragging pleases Me,’ declares the LORD.”

Jeremiah 9:23 ISV and 24 GWT
The Greek word for “boast” in these two verses is “halal” and means “to be boastful, to praise.”  When I talk, who am I boasting about, approving, or admiring?
Am I full of a disproportionate amount of pride and/or too much satisfaction with myself or my achievements?

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”

Luke 6:45 NIV
Whatever your Bible translation says in the last sentence of this verse (“overflow, flows from, abundance, full of,…”), the Greek word for it is “perisseuma,” which was created from a noun meaning “excess.” It means that there is more than what one thought was possible. Perisseuma focuses on the results of this excess and how they affect a situation. Obviously, in this context, the excess of what is in our hearts affects our words.
Photo by Ephraim Mayrena on Unsplash
What is my heart overflowing with?
How is this affecting what comes out of my mouth?
  • Act arrogantly (Vs. 4). My parents have a wood burning stove in their home. I loved when my dad would bring in wood from the back porch and start a fire. I remember just sitting in the dark, watching the embers. At times, my dad would grab fireplace bellows to help keep the fire going. As he pulled the handles apart, the bellows filled with air; as he brought the handles together, the air blew out onto the embers. The air would, then, transition the glowing areas of the fire into flames.
    • You may have heard Verse 4 of 1 Corinthians 13 state that “love isn’t puffed up.” The Greek word for “puffed up” is “physióō.” Much like the fireplace bellows, our thoughts of ourselves, inflating words from others, etc., can fill us and enlarge or swell up what we think of ourselves. Pretty soon, arrogance is gushing out of us, like the air, forcefully charging out of the bellows, igniting our words and, perhaps, others, upon hearing them. “Physióō” comes from the Greek word, phýsis, which refers to our inward features or make-up…our mental and psychological nature.
Photo by Quentin Touvard on Unsplash
What am I allowing in, and how is it affecting what I think about and how I feel?
Have I let any compliments or personal thoughts fuel any inflated views of myself, my importance, or my abilities?
If yes, are my words or actions coming across as arrogant?

Doing self checks are vitally important for all of us!

My daughter loves movies! Last week, in her Bible class, she was challenged to watch a movie, from a list of approved films, and compare what beliefs were present (world views) with what the Bible says about each (Biblical world view). The movie she selected was one she’s watched many, many times throughout the years. However, this time, she picked up on several things she’d never picked up on before, as she was challenged to look deeper and discern. How often do we take a deeper look and discern? Do we take the time? Are we analyzing what we allow in? Since completing that assignment, I’ve seen my daughter make some really neat decisions about what she opens the door of her heart to…and changes have been made in her words as a result.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

What is the LORD showing you during your check-in?

1qbox 350 and Orators Speak. “Love is love” and “love is love.”  Urban Dictionary, 22 January 2020 and 22 March 2011, https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Love%20is%20love.

What’s Love NOT to Do?

According to Psychology Today, “When doctors and therapists teach patients to turn negative thoughts and worries into positive affirmations, the communication process improves, and the patient regains self-control and confidence. But there’s a problem: The brain barely responds to our positive words and thoughts. They’re not a threat to our survival, so the brain doesn’t need to respond as rapidly as it does to negative thoughts and words.1 So, why is it that God specifically gives us negative “don’t” instructions in His Word? I can think of a couple reasons, in response to this. Do you notice how the quote says, “the patient regains self-control and confidence,” through positive affirmations? “Self-control” is meant to be produced in cooperation with the Spirit of God, Who empowers us to do things outside of what we can do on our own; this quote gives the false hope that we ever had or can have self-control through our own manufacturing. Also, if our “brain barely responds to our positive words and thoughts,” God knowingly, as the Designer and Creator of our physical form, wanted to give us parameters for our behavior in order to be a proper reflection of Him; and negative words can encourage a quicker reaction to what He’s said.

We’ve already spent a good chunk of time, looking at what love is (if you’ve missed it, feel free to look back at the last three posts). In order to gain a full understanding of love, we need to expose what it isn’t. Verses 4-8 of 1 Corinthians 13 inform us of what love doesn’t do. Let’s take a look at several of them.

Love Doesn’t:

  • Envy (Vs. 4). In Greek, this word is onomatopoetic (yeah, don’t strain yourself; I can’t pronounce it easily, either). It means that the word sounds like what it means. In this instance, it sounds like boiling water, which is similar to its meaning–getting piping hot and boiling over. While the Greek word it comes from can be used positively (zeal) or negatively (jealousy), this context is negative; it’s an active word (verb) that is moving, just like those bubbles in the boiling water; however, in this case, it’s being moved by envy, hatred, and/or anger. Just like watching water, as it begins to boil, the bubbles start out few and small, but eventually, they come to a “rolling boil,” where the bubbles are large and hot water can splatter all over the place, if the heat isn’t turned down.
Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash
Have you ever felt like this? Admittedly, I’ve been there too many times! My issue tends to be anger. I’ve had instances when I was absent from a group of people for months, even years, due to my health. When I was able to be with them, again, there were a couple different people who made some pretty insensitive remarks. I was boiling on the inside (probably the outside, too; I’m not very good at hiding my emotions)! Did I have a right to be angry because of their hurtful words? Yes! Sin is a hurtful thing, but what was moving me was anger, not true love. I was angry at them, not the sin. I didn’t remark, afterward, “I wonder what’s going on in _____’s life that ___ thought that comment was appropriate to say. Was _____ just uncomfortable and didn’t know how to talk about what was facing our family?” I didn’t give them the benefit of the doubt. I was all hot water, and words soon splattered all over the place, when they weren’t in earshot. The LORD is showing me, even as I type this, that I was fueled by a desire to be missed…to know I and my family weren’t completely forgotten about…to have someone say, “We’ve really missed seeing you guys! I’m glad you’re feeling well enough to be here.” That would’ve been an agapé love response, but even though that lacked on their end, their actions or words don’t justify my own. I’m thankful God’s Spirit closed my mouth in both instances to keep me from giving them an earful, but my reaction and words afterward (even months afterward) has a ways to go to show agapé love.
If you remember from the “Love: The Key Ingredient” post, love intensely and passionately acts against sin, but doesn’t sin in the process. It’s displaying patience when others offend or hurt you, being unhurried at “getting back at them.” While I may not have verbally gotten back at them to their faces, my heart, harboring the hurt and resentment and talking about it with others, but not them, is sinful…and the complete opposite of what love is. God has brought me, through writing this, to forgive them and to think of ways to properly respond, if ever in that situation, again.
  • Act out of shape (Vs. 5). No, we’re not talking about our weight or level of physical exercise. We’re talking about acting improperly. Your version of the Bible may say, “dishonor others, act rudely/unbecomingly/improperly/disgracefully…” All of them mean that if we’re God’s kids and aren’t conforming to what God prefers (agapé), our behavior or language doesn’t fit our character or status as God’s child. We’re out of shape. May I refer you, again, to the previous example (in a number of ways)?!?
  • Seek after himself/herself (Vs. 5). Here we are, again; the “seeking” or “striving after” isn’t the bad part; the object of our affection is! In my story above, I was seeking myself out of pain, rather than striving after GOD and what HE prefers. The Greek word for “seeking,” here, is really about getting to the bottom of something by asking questions in order to gain an understanding.
When was the last time you asked yourself those hard questions, to understand who the object of your affection is, in any given circumstance?

“Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person [the one who is different from you].”

1 Corinthians 10:24 NETB
  • Jab Others (Vs. 5). Your version may refer to it as being “provoked.” “Jab” has a picture, here, of being close beside someone and cutting them sharply in order to trigger their feelings (emotions). Maybe it’s to get a rise out of someone or just plain ‘ole wanting to hurt them the way they hurt you.
  • Regard someone as guilty of being nasty on the inside with awful, tainted character just because he or she shares a similar quality to someone else (Vs. 5). I find this interesting, as this, too, has a possibility of being used for good, as we can regard someone as having beautiful character, because he or she shares a similar characteristic as someone else we know. It’s certainly easy to assume things about people, based on past experiences. We see, here, that making someone responsible for a corrupted identity, which belongs to someone else, as a result of our false association, is not love.

I’m going to stop here. Not only is this enough to take in, but the LORD is hitting me with an ample amount to confess and work through! We’ll pick up next post on the rest of the “don’t” list.

This is as real as it gets. Is there anything related to this “Don’t” list that the LORD is stirring inside you?
Photo by Randy Laybourne on Unsplash

1 Newberg, Andrew M.D. and Mark Waldman. “Why This Word Is So Dangerous to Say or Hear.” Psychology Today, 1 August 2012, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/words-can-change-your-brain/201208/why-word-is-so-dangerous-say-or-hear.