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May 28, 2007

The hardest requirement in scripture, in my opinion, is this…

I Corinthians 13:7b Love “believes all things”

This is found among the list of other incredibly difficult things which Love does, in fact, do. What does this particular mandate mean? Some translations read it as “always trusts”, “never loses faith” and “loyal” but my personal favorite is this one “believes the best”. The word means to “to trust, have confidence, and be confident”.

In my quest for understanding, this is what I have come to believe.

“Believing the best” means choosing to love someone although that person speaks in a way which you don’t understand. It is choosing to respond to what is required if you say you are a believer and as such you commit to the Word of G-d. Even if you neither “feel” it nor understand why. “Now the purpose of the commandment (Torah) is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.” 1 Timothy 1:5

You make the choice to believe the intent of a fellow believer is for your good and not for your downfall or humiliation. It’s up to you.

When challenged, where do your reactions come from?

Love?

Really?

The Word is very clear about how that looks.

Love is loyal, trusting, hopeful, not easily provoked, not given to slander and name calling. Love responds well even when the other party does not. Love searches for common ground and is eager to find the truth. Love doesn’t keep a tally sheet of all offenses offered against it. Real or imagined. Love remains kind and patient. Love encourages and informs. Doesn’t condescend and belittle. Love doesn’t react. Love responds.

These are those things which should inspire us, convict us and point us in the right direction when we discuss the issues of life and spirituality. Love believes the best. That’s what Love looks like. And it is either clearly seen or blatantly absent. As a little leaven spreads through the whole lump of dough, so a little bitterness poisons the most well-intentioned of responses.

We can live entire lives choosing to be offended by our perception of the behavior of the men and women around us. We can isolate ourselves and blockade the doors to our heart and our purpose. We can stand proudly in our ivory towers being right and self-righteous. And we will do it all alone.

But that’s not the Kingdom of G-d. The Kingdom is about iron sharpening iron and bearing one another’s burdens. The Kingdom is about standing for truth and refusing to allow your brother or sister to walk in darkness. No matter what it costs you personally. Regardless of whether or not they choose to hear you. The Kingdom is about humility and servitude to G-d and to each other. The Kingdom is about taking G-d seriously and me lightly. The Kingdom is about transformation and living in such a way as to bring honor and glory to our Father. The Kingdom is about community and an eternal hope. A Hope first to the Jews and then the entire world through the sacrifice of Yeshua, G-d as man, G-d as Living Sacrifice, G-d as Eternal Redeemer. G-d.

So, the next time you find yourself with hackles raised and hands poised over the keyboard to offer the stern and indignant response to the latest incomprehensible thing you read, I would just ask you to remember this. Are you talking to a fellow believer? Does your response follow the criteria of believing the best? Of loyalty and hope? If not? It might just be a good idea to take it down a notch, ask for clarification on the issue and *gasp* learn something. Build a bridge. Make a friend.

Or you can stay there throwing burning arrows into your own camp.

Just as long as you maintain your superior position of being right.

At least we’ll all know what’s most important to you.