Conservative Towards Ourselves, Liberal Towards Others
Monday’s section of this week’s lesson reads,
Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Try placing your name where the word “love” appears. How well does it fit? Ask Jesus to bring these qualities of love into your life by His Spirit. What changes might the Spirit prompt you to make in order to reach this Christian ideal?
I heard of this idea several years ago, and now whenever I am asked to perform a wedding ceremony, I always include 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. I read it twice, The first time I replace the word love with the groom’s name, and the second time I replace it with the bride’s name. It always brings smiles to the bride and groom as well as the entire wedding party. Still I trust the Holy Spiriting is impressing the sacredness of love upon their hearts.
For some reason, what seems to bring more smiles than anything else is the part in 1 Cor 13:5 where it says in several versions that love keeps no record of being wronged. Now remember, God is love. So we can just as easily replace the word love with the word “God” and get an accurate description of God. But doesn’t God keep a record of all of our wrongs? Let’s let Scripture answer that.
Lord, if you kept a record of our sins, who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you. Psalm 130:3-4 NLT
Remember resurrection morning when the angels told the women in Mark 16:7, to tell Peter as well as the others that Jesus would meet them in Galilee? Peter had denied He even knew Jesus just a few nights before, but apparently Jesus didn’t have any record of that in His heart. For the sake of unity Paul pleads with us to have the same attitude with others.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Colossians 3:13 NLT
Make allowances for each other’s faults? But what about character development? What about Bible standards? First, forgiveness is a Bible standard and should be included in our own character development. Second, Jesus gave us an example of being conservative towards ourselves while being liberal towards others. In other words hold yourself to a higher standard while cutting everyone else some slack. Jesus was conservative towards Himself when he fasted 40 days in the wilderness, but we was liberal towards others when He fed the multitudes. Jesus was conservative towards Himself while He prayed all evening in Gethsemane, but He was liberal towards the disciples when they fell asleep while praying. Jesus could have been hard on them and still spoken truth had He told them, “Hey, I have come down here in the same flesh you have, so if I can pray without falling asleep so can you!” According to Romans 8:3 that statement would have been exactly true!
He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. Romans 8:3 NLT
But as true as such a statement would have been, instead of condemning them for not being like Him, He sought to excuse them by saying, “For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” See Matthew 26:41.
Paul endorses this idea of being conservative towards ourselves while being liberal towards others. We’ve seen in Colossians 3:13 how he says to make allowances for each other’s faults, which is being liberal towards others. Then, in Romans Paul says,
Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires. Romans 13:14 NLT
Paul is teaching us to make allowances for the fault’s of others while not indulging in sin ourselves. Conservative towards ourselves, liberal towards others. This attitude of keeping no record of the wrongs of others, while reaching a higher standard for ourselves, is not just for grooms and brides. Its for children and parents, and brothers and sisters, and cousins and neighbors. We have all heard, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.” What happy homes and churches we can have if we will all shred those records of other people’s mistakes, and be liberal towards others, while being conservative towards ourselves!