Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant, it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (CEB)
One of the things I loved about living in a rural community was watching the dance of life take place across the acres of fields cultivated by local farmers. I watched, in awe, as bright green shoots pushed their way out of the seemingly lifeless dark, brown dirt. As spring gave way to summer, it was a joy seeing the shoots grow into tall ears of corn or thick, lush soybeans that brought so much color to the landscape. During harvest, the green turned once more to shades of brown and the land was still. But then, out of the darkness of winter, there was light; deep oranges and yellows that would send plumes of black smoke into the sky.
It is not uncommon for farmers to burn off their fields before spring planting to get rid of the remnants of last year’s crop. The fire not only removes the old, but it prepares the soil to receive new life. In the process of burning new chemicals are produced in the ashes which then get folded into the fields to make the earth richer and stronger. The burn is carefully orchestrated, monitored and controlled. And this controlled burn leads to life.
In day 24 of 40 Days of Decrease, Chole asks two questions.
- Has passion ever led you somewhere that love would not have gone?
- Has love ever led you somewhere that passion could not have gone?
I confess, I had to sit on that for a minute. I had to think about passion and love beyond our physical relationships with others. And when I delved deep within my being, here’s the truth that I came to.
Has passion ever led you somewhere that love would not have gone? Absolutely. Passion has led me to anger, to bitterness, to harsh words and vengeful actions. Passion has led me to draft sweeping generalizations about people–to categorize others into “good” and “bad”. Passion has led me to be mean and spiteful.
Has love ever led you somewhere that passion could not go? Thank God for grace. Love has led me to forgiveness. Love has led me to hold my tongue. Love has led me to patience, which has led me to understand others rather than to judge others. Love has opened my eyes to things that I need to change. Love has taught me kindness, and shown me how to be kind.
This, I think, is the difference between a controlled burn and a raging wildfire. Wildfires consume with no orchestration. They leap up, burn tall and wreck everything in their path. Wildfires leave behind destruction, barrenness and devastation.
Look again at Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 13:
Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,
proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,
Love never fails!
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8 (CEV)
Notice the fruit that love produces: kindness, patience, humility, forgiveness, grace, mercy, truth, encouragement, loyalty, hope, trust and strength.
Where our passions consume, love renews. Love, I think, is a controlled burn orchestrated by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit to make our hearts ripe and fertile fields in which life will blossom.
Love leads us to look beyond ourselves and our own desires to engage in the world with God’s eyes, hands, feet and heart. Love leads us to do crazy things,like:
- quitting a corporate job to go into ministry
- downsizing a home or car to support the work of God
- spending vacation time and money on a mission trip
- becoming a foster parent
- volunteering at a local school, retirement home, hospital, animal shelter, etc…
- coaching youth sports and activities
- building homes and schools in both local communities and developing countries
- teaching Sunday school
The list goes on and on…
Love leads us where passion cannot go.
This week, I would challenge each of us to consider if we are acting out of passion or love. And then to ask the question, “Where can love lead us that passion cannot go?”
Blessings and Peace,
Note: This is an updated version of a post originally published in March 15, 2016.