Bears all things, Believes all things, Hopes all things, Endures all things...

I Corinthians 13:7 - "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

It's easy to be thin-skinned.  To go from being ticked off to set off in nanoseconds.  I can't believe how things can "get to me"...silly things, stupid things.  A word can trigger anger.  A bit of bad news can vex me instantly.  Age only seems to make me more vulnerable to letdowns that lead to meltdowns.

I've been praying for resilience the last several months, an inner fortitude that stands strong in the storm.  All I have to do is ask my soul who I look up to most and atop the list are people who possess strength and stamina in the struggles of life.  I don't just admire them, I revere them.  It's who I want to be.

The man I am is nowhere close to the men I look up to.  The gap is gaping.  But I'm determined to close this gap in the years to come.  I don't care how many years it takes, I want to be a man of true strength.

The verse atop this post talks of 4 qualities I long to live out.  I want to be able to say one day...

1. I bear all things.  Meaning..."I bear people's burdens with them."

The test of one's character is often the way you treat people.  I've been asking myself lately: "Do you really love people?"  Instead of just saying yes because I know it's the right answer, I've been letting that question linger a little longer.  The truth is that my love is often skin deep.  When it comes time to really carry someone else's burden without hesitation, I often fall short.  The reality is I have many burdens of my own that wiegh me down and I pause to count the cost of taking on any more weight.  Too often I do what the religious leaders did with the man beat up on the side of the road in the parable of the good Samaritan, I "walk by on the other side".  I find a way around doing something, and excuse to avoid getting involved...who knows what that could lead to?  But like Jesus, I want to love my neighbor enough to be moved with compassion and to action.  Bearing burdens can't stop at compassion, it must take action.  When things are heavy, I want people to think of asking me to help. When things are weighty, I want my name to come up in the conversation of people who can bear the burden well.  To be a man that gravitates to the gravity of life and lightens the load by offering whatever strength I poossess in that moment.  I can't do it all, but I can give my all.  I want to bear people's burdens with them.

2. I believe all things.  Meaning..."I believe the best about people."

This phrase can at first seem like gullibility or naivity.  How easy it would be to take advantage of someone who believes all things?  But this isn't what this phrase is inferring in the least.  Another way of translating this verse would be to say that "you give people the benefit of the doubt."  They are innocent until proven guilty.  We don't live in this kind of world, people.  There is a smog of suspicion and caution that hovers over almost every human interaction.  And I get it.  I really do.  My natural tendency is to hold people at arms length until they've proven themselves beyond a shadow of doubt.  I don't trust people like I used to.  I've felt the burn of betrayal.  I've tasted the gall of gossip.  It's hard to recover faith in humanity after you've gone through the gauntlet enough times.  But I can tell when I'm around a person who has experienced similar hurt and emerged with an optimism about the potential of people.  They know they will get played, but they put their heart out there again and again betting against all odds on the best in humankind.  Even if they get burnt, they still have more joy than the unburned souls sitting on the sidelines of safety and surety.  "When no one gave me a chance, when I didn't even believe in myself, Jason saw something in me and believed the best right out of me.  I don't think I'd be who I am if someone didn't give me a chance."  May I be of the ilk that something like this could be said of me.

3. I hope all things.  Meaning..."I see the good in life."

Negativity is all over the place.  It fills apartments, homes, businesses, airports, Washington and churches.  We are bent toward seeing the bad, born and bred as master troubleshooters.  Even if someting goes well, I'm prone to sift through the experience to expose the things that could have been better.  I listen to the one voice of criticism and easily find myself dismissing the 99 voices of encouragement.  I am very sensitive to turbulence and disturbance, I want everyone to be happy and I won't rest until they are, which means I will never rest.  It's sad, really.  We're so accustomed to negativity and fatalism that positivity and optimism seems foolhardy and annoying.  Who wants to be around joy and hope?  Who has the stomach to put up with someone who truly sees the good in life around them and seeks to point out how much there is to be grateful for and how good it is to be alive?  Our native language is pessimism and criticism.  But the kingdom of God speaks the language of hope and potential and possibility.  It looks forward to things.  It sees the good even in the bad.  It constantly is translating our pain into an ultimate purpose, our failure into another step closer to victory.  I want to be this kind of husband, father, friend, and pastor.  I want my words to produce promise, to show people the precious gift that life is and the beauty that is all around us.  May it be said of me that despite my circumstances, I was a man that saw the good in life and did my best to help lift other people's eyes to see it themselves.

4. I endure all things.  Meaning..."I do hard things and overcome hard things."

There is no way to escape life without paralyzing pain.  Obstacles and Opposition seek to neutralize us, putting us in lock down mode.  Some cave in to pity, "Woe is me,"  Some fall into depression, "I feel dead."  Some fall into despair, "Why go on with life?"  Perseverence is a big word with deep meaning.  I want it, but without effort, without cost.  That's not possible, however.  The only way to persevere is to be tested with the severe.  Sever loss.  Severe suffering.  Sever failure.  Severe ridicule.  Severe resistance.  And it will come, resistance awaits anyone trying to do something good with their life.  Try and create something, you will experience resistance.  Commit to leaving every place better than you found it, buckle up.  Set your heart to influence people for the good, ready yourself for an attack.  It's just the way it is.  But I want to overcome, I want to endure all things.  Things like temptation.  Things like tribulation.  Things like pride, greed, and lust.  Things like fear, stress, and anxiety.  Things like prosperity, acclaim, and applause.  I want to say I've face all that life could throw at me and overcame.  More than that, I've walked into the hard places to rescue the hard people doing the hard things for the sake of the gospel.  It wasn't just about enduing hardship, I was choosing hard things for the sake of Christ and His mission.  I want to be this kind of Christian.  A person that loves so much that I will lay down my life.  That enduring life and enjoying life happen concurrently every day, each one as valuable as the other.  "Jason didn't run and hide, nor did he find the good life and coast, he fought the good fight, he kept the faith, and he finished the race."  I couldn't ask for more in life than something akin to those words being spoken of me at my funeral.

At the end of my life I want to hear from God, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant."

To die a good man.
To die a faithful man.

This is all I want.


Popular Posts