In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul says that there is only one stat that ultimately matters in your walk with God - one thing that that truly tells the world who you are, and that is your love (or lack thereof). The real question is, how do I grow in love? What does love look like? What does love do, and what does it not do? What is love?
7. Love Doesn’t Have A Million Hot-Button Issues
One of my favorite shows is a sit-com called, ‘Modern Family’ and during the second season of the show, I noticed that one of the characters kept having these huge, explosive, emotional break-downs where she kept repeating this one phrase, “This is my one thing!” She said Halloween was her one thing. She said Thanksgiving was her one thing. She said her clandestine trips to an indoor firing range were her one thing, and whenever any other family member trespassed into one of those many things that she called her “one thing,” she hit the ceiling and completely lost her mind in a big, public rage.
Look, there’s no getting around it: We all have hot-button issues. We all have things that send us over the edge. We all have situations or topics that we don’t handle well, or that cause us to lose our rationality. For some people, it’s getting cut off in traffic. For others, it’s when folks are late or when things don’t start on time. Some people simply can’t abide clutter; and for other folks, people who obsess on neatness and order make them insane. We’re all different and we all have different levels of tolerance for different things. Your hot-button issue could be a million things - it could be really anything… and that is really the problem.
Some people don’t just have one hot-button issue… they have 47 thousand hot-button issues. In other words, there are a million things that take their emotions from zero to sixty in an instant. They can blow up and get distressed, angry, and maddeningly agitated about tons and tons of things and the fact is, there are so many things that set them off, that you never know when you’re going to trip their wires.
When Paul talks about what love looks like in 1 Corinthians 13, he says that love isn’t easily angered. The Greek word that we’ve translated ‘easily angered’ is a word that literally means “a sharp edge, alongside.” In other words, it’s like a poke or a jab that is right beside you… it’s always there. It’s a person who’s always getting jabbed by everything - they’re always emotionally hurt, always finding a really good reason to be pissed. Paul is saying that love isn’t like that. Love isn’t emotionally riled up by everything all the time.
I said earlier that we all have those hot-button issues… we all have those things that take us from doing just fine to being an emotional mad-house. The question is, what does that mean? Why do we have those hot-button issues? You see, if there is a topic that makes me go from zero to insane in no time flat, it’s because I think that situation is not only wrong, but it’s basically maddening and ridiculous. It means that at some level, I am personally offended by this thing and restitution needs to be made. It means I believe that if you are the person who set me off, you owe me something. You need to back up and make it right.
There are a few problems with this: One, I am just as much of a mess as anyone who has ever walked this planet and I have personally offended the heart of God in more ways than I can ever count and not only has He forgiven and accepted me, but He gave His only Son over to a horrible death for me and for my forgiveness and acceptance. That means that I have no real right to blow up about very many things for the rest of my life because I have been forgiven so much. Not only that, but if I have a ton of hot-button issues… in other words, if that jab is always beside me and I’m always getting stirred up by everything all the time, I have become a person who thinks that the people of planet earth exist to conform to my whims and tastes, and that’s not what love does.
Love knows I have been the worst offender. Love doesn’t get all bent out of shape when offenses happen. Love forgives. Love puts up with others stepping out of line and pushing my buttons.