“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” – I Cor. 13:1.
There were a lot of resounding gongs and clanging cymbals in Washington, D.C. yesterday, when America’s 45th president, Donald Trump, was sworn into office. This is not a political post, and I don’t want to debate politics with you. But what I saw yesterday made me sad for America and, honestly, a bit angry.
I had just turned off the t.v. after watching the inauguration with my kids. We have always had them watch significant events with us, whether we agree with what is going on or not. Each event is a part of their history, and we want them to be knowledgeable about current events. I put them down for their naps and turned the t.v. back on – to see my fellow Americans behaving like terrorists! Rioting in the streets, beating other people to a bloody pulp for voting for Trump, destroying ATMs, vandalizing local establishments, burning other people’s cars. . .
Ironically, in the midst of the chaos, I saw a man who was holding a sign that he intended to protest Trump’s inauguration. Instead, he was describing the chaos that was ensuing around him. His sign read:
HOW DID WE LET HATE WIN?
Hate wins when we turn on each other. Hate wins when we take our protests too far and destroy other people’s property. Hate wins when we can no longer discuss differing ideas and opinions. Hate wins when we speak without love.
I Corinthians 13 is a well-known passage by both Christians and non-Christians. It is clearly read at traditional and non-traditional weddings. Its words hang over the doorways of many entryways, signaling that you are entering a house filled with love. It is accepted among believers and non-believers alike because everyone agrees that “all we need is love” (to quote a well-known song!).
Love is patient. That means that we don’t allow our emotions to get the better of us! We don’t lose control of our anger. We wait for the other person to be able to hear us. And then we calmly present our point of view. We follow James’ instructions to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (Jms. 1:19).
Love is kind. It seems that any time we start talking politics, we lose the ability to be kind. We hide behind our computers, slinging mud at complete strangers. We criticize, annoy, slander, gossip, and bully. We stop trying to understand one another and seek out only the bad things about each other. Social media has brought out the worst in us! But Jesus said, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 7:12).
Love does not envy. It’s easy for us to fall into the trap of wanting things that other people have. And let’s be honest – when we vote for a candidate, we are looking for someone who will give us the means of getting what we want. We want someone who will create laws to make it easier for us. Never before have we felt so entitled, refusing to do the work! James 3:16 perfectly describes what happened yesterday when a lot of people didn’t get their way – “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.”
Love does not boast. In a turnaround of the previous phrase, Paul also reminds us that love doesn’t boast when someone does get their way! Half of my Facebook page is filled with images of people who were angry that they didn’t get their way, and the other half is filled with people who were gloating over their victory. No one likes a sore winner! And the boasters closed down any kind of communication with the people they were trying to convince! God hates boasting, no matter who is doing it! “As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” – Jms. 4:16.
Love is not proud. When we love someone, we think about them. We put their needs first. We take a back seat and seek their good. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Yesterday may have been a victory for you, but rest assured, tomorrow or the day after or maybe the day after that, you will have a fall. Humble yourself now.
Love does not dishonor. There were so many ways that people showed hate yesterday. They dishonored business owners by vandalizing. They dishonored police officers and military personnel by spitting at them, screaming at them, and throwing stuff at them. They dishonored Americans by creating a mess that our tax dollars will have to clean up. They dishonored each other by the hate speech that was being spewed back and forth and, certainly, by beating up people with opposing views! “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” – Rom. 12:10.
Love is not self-seeking. If people had been thinking about others yesterday, perhaps fewer people would have been hurt. Perhaps less damage would have been done. If we are not self-seeking, perhaps we will have the chance to join hands with each other again and reunite our country. Philippians 2:3 encourages us, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Maybe if we stopped trying to “win the argument,” we would do something more important – win a friend.
Love is not easily angered. I saw both sides of the argument screaming so loud at each other yesterday that no one could be understood. One woman was beside herself, begging for another person to just shut up and listen to her! The other side couldn’t stand to be silent and instead fueled her anger, growing angry himself as his emotions heightened. Anger is a major cause of heart attacks, stroke, and ulcers. It divides us and never allows us to unify. Proverbs 14:29 says, “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”
Love keeps no record of wrongs. During election season, it is so easy for us to dig up old wounds from the past. In fact, the whole point of campaigning is to find the other candidate’s “skeletons” and put them on display. And we allow those old wounds to be fired up and turned into hate without stopping to think what we are protesting. There are valid things that need to be protested, but many people just follow the mob and don’t even know what they are protesting! But Ephesians 4:31 reminds us, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.”
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Instead of listening to the lies of the media or to groups who have their own agenda, do your own research. Investigate the allegations being made. Seek the truth for yourself. Philippians 4:8 encourages us, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love was demonstrated by the police officers and military personnel who served their country yesterday. I know that there were many of them who probably understood how the rioters felt – alone, scared, hopeless, disappointed, angry. Many of them were probably hoping for a different outcome in the election. People were throwing things at them, spewing hate at them, and attacking them. But love always protects, so they protected. Love always trusts, so they trusted their comrades-in-arms to stand with them. Love always hopes, so they hope that people will soon unite as one. And love always perseveres, so they continued in their job of protecting the very people who were creating the problem.
Love Never Fails!
Yesterday, America watched a new President take office. Since the election results back in November, the losing side has proclaimed, “Love Trumps Hate.” And that is true. Even the Bible says that love always wins.
But losing the election doesn’t mean that we have to allow hate to run the nation. Love wins when the rioting stops, and we reach out a hand to our neighbor. Love wins when you join your community in keeping your streets clean. Love wins when you serve others and esteem them above yourself.
Like I said, this is not a political post. I don’t care what side you are on. I don’t want to discuss politics with you. Both sides are behaving badly, and it’s time that we put a stop to it.
But if you’re interested in talking to me about love, I can tell you about the One who loves you ALL THE TIME – no matter which political side you are fighting on! He has a bigger plan for you than what’s going on in Washington.
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” – I Jn. 4:7-8.