What is life? What defines it?
Even the dictionary can’t describe it.
If you had to define it, what would you see?
If it was left up to me, this is what it’d be:
Life is more than writing and reading a book,
More than eating and learning how to cook,
It is more than watching movies and having fun,
More than buying merchandise by the ton,
Life is more than science, math, and school.
It is more than impressing people and being called “cool.”
If that was all life was, I’d call my life useless,
And the best things I did, worthless.
Living would not even be worthwhile,
If it were only having a money pile.
Is life living for your family or your friend?
No, life is living for the One who has no end.
Life is loving Him who first loved you,
And serving Him in all you do.
Immeasurable joy, immeasurable love,
Are gifts from our Father above.
Sacrificing for others, being called His,
This, my friend, is what life is.
This was originally published on Kingdom Pen.
“Does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered.” (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Love never stains its gown by playing in the mud. Love acts like it looks—beautiful. If we are dressed in love, all our outward ugliness will fade in comparison. And just because love is humble, doesn't mean it's not dignified. It can be worn at any occasion, whether it's casual or formal. It doesn't yell, balk, bite or wear a sour expression because that would go against its dress code. When I whine or roll my eyes I've torn love's gown. Too often stressful situations have made me act unbecomingly. The next time you're tempted have a fit, think back to the last time this happened and how it effected others. Did it make you feel any better? Did it give you peace? A calm state may be hard to maintain during a hurricane but an unbecoming attitude will blow you toward the eye of the storm.
Have you ever sacrificed something for someone (however small)? If not, are you sure you have love? We all tend to think of ourselves first, even the best of us. We go to great lengths to make ourselves comfortable and happy with usually little or no thought about someone else. Count how many times you thought of yourself today and how many times you thought of others. You may be shocked at how many times you think of yourself. If our thoughts are consumed with ourselves, how will we follow the command of laying down our life for our friends (c.f. John 15:13)? It's not too likely we'll have the opportunity to risk our lives for another's, but opportunities for sacrifice arise every day. Missing the football game to help out your grandma, cleaning the kitchen for your mom instead of watching your favorite TV show, or staying late to help your boss when you'd rather be resting, are a few examples of the little sacrifices we can make each day. Instead of thinking how to make life easier for yourself, think how you can make your parents, sibling’s, friend’s, or strangers easier too. “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor” (1Corinthians 10:24).
Paul never said love is not easily provoked, but that it's not provoked. I must admit, I'm not easily provoked, but when I am, I am sharper than a porcupine. My quills start spiking every time someone criticizes my writing, cooking, or artwork. I'm being unloving when I do that. I need to remember that I've offended others many times, even if unintentionally (c.f. Ecclesiastes 7:21-22). Christ had much more reason to be angry than us, yet the only time He ever displayed anger was when the temple was defiled (Matt. 21:12-13, John 2:13-17). Anger is permissible when it's for God's honor, as long as it doesn't turn into hatred or violence. I'm not saying we should stand back while other people are harming us or others. But just because we shouldn't hit back, doesn't mean we can't block the opponents punch. “When we are injured, we are bound as Christians to bear it without malice; but we are not to pretend that we do not feel it, for this will but encourage our enemies to kick us again.” *
“God forgive them, for they know not what they do” is the greatest declaration of a loving heart. Christ forgave His tormentors while they were tormenting Him. How can our hearts be hardened over petty offenses when our King bore the ultimate insult? He forgives thousands of sins, why can't we forgive one? He forgives instantly, why must we withhold our forgiveness for months? You don't have to offer a friend who has betrayed you immediate restoration into your heart—you don't even have to be friends again—but you need to let go of hate and wish them the best wherever they go, even if drift farther away from you.
*C.H. Spurgeon, The Complete John Ploughman: Combined Edition of John Ploughman's Talk and John Ploughman's Pictures (Christian Focus Publications, 2007), 34.
“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)
Why is patience listed first in God's definition of love? Couldn't He have listed something greater like courageous, faithful, or joyful? Perhaps He did this because He knew we have so little of patience. Love doesn't tap its foot and yell “hurry up!” when their dinner isn't on time. Love is waiting for your family, friends, strangers, and God's timing. If you can't do that, you've missed the first definition of love. Patience may not seem like much, but sometimes the smallest act of patience is the greatest act of love. If God wasn't so patient, the ungodly would have perished long ago.
Kindness follows patience by the heel. Kindness should not be restricted to the needy but extended to all, whether they're rich, poor, happy, sad, friend, or enemy. Your kindness doesn't have to be grand; it can be as simple as carrying the groceries in for your mom or listening to a friend's troubles. I've found family is the best place to plant kindness before sowing it to the world. If we can't be kind to those we love the most, how can we be kind to outsiders? The next time you're tempted to go off and do your own stuff, stop and think about what you can do to help those around you. You might be surprised how many opportunities you'll find if you look hard enough.
Sometimes the clearest way to describe something is by stating what it's not. White is not black, rocks are not pillows, and love is not jealous. What if you entered a story contest and your friend won instead? Would you pout or would you toss confetti your friend’s way? What if your coworker was always buying new clothes while you could barely afford to pay the electric bill? Would your attitude be grumpy towards them or friendly? God provides each individual with what they need, not with what they've dreamed. Strike jealousy with the rod of contentment and you will be able to be happy for those who have all you've ever wanted, whether it's friends, prestige, or money.
On the flip side, while the poor should not be envious, the rich should not try to compel them to be so. Owning nice things is not wrong, but flaunting them is. You shouldn't go on how much your car cost or how cool your new iPhone is when the person sitting next to you is dressed in rags. Nor should you ram your successes down someone else's throat. That's not to say all boasting is sinful; sharing the good news of a job promotion or celebrating your first book sale with friends is nothing shameful. They're happy to hear of your good fortune just as you are happy to hear about theirs. It's the when, where, who, and how of your boasting that determines whether or not it's sinful.
Ironically, love loves everyone except itself. Arrogant people cannot love others because they are too busy loving themselves. Christ is a brilliant example of humble love. Even though everyone was beneath Him, but He did not treat them so. He didn't play favorites and neither should we. He ate with sinners (Matthew 9:10) as well as rabbis (Luke 7:36). In one chapter, He converses with a respected ruler (John 3:1-21), and in the next with a social outcast (4:7-26). Surely if Jesus stooped to wash His disciples feet, surely we can stoop to wash our fellow man's!
Mariposa is a self-taught artist and aspiring children's author who captures the glories of God's creation on paper. She has a Ph.D. in creativity and a master's degree in imagination.
Aberdeen is a book-eating, ink-drinking dinosaur from the createtus period. When he isn't falling into plot holes or taking cover from the volcano of ideas, he's hanging out with Dee-Dee the doodledactyl. Read full bio