I realized this week that I tend to approach Bible reading with the following subconscious thought: "Ok (heavy sigh), let's see what else I'm not doing right that God wants me to get straight." Lately it's been hard to see anything but correction in my personal devotion times. And while I understand that correction comes because He loves me, the love seemed secondary. It's as though I see God as primarily being interested in pointing out the myriad of things that are wrong with me.
So earlier this week, I was reading the "Love" passage - 1 Cor. 13 - and I was expecting God to show me all the ways I have not been very loving lately. I haven't been patient with my child, kind to my spouse, etc, etc, etc. But that's not what I came away with. What I saw instead was that all those things about love are also about God Himself, since God is love, according to 1 John 4. And then something else occurred to me. All these things are characteristic of the relationship He wants to have with me - this is how He treats me!
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Cor 13:4-7
When I looked at the passage from a new perspective, I found that I was able to find encouragement along with reproof, love along with discipline. It shouldn't surprise me. Now that I am a parent, I find myself correcting my toddler not just so I can so "NO" 1835 times a day (and believe me, it feels like that sometimes). I do it because I love her and I want her to grow into the woman God intends her to be. Doing so means disciplining her even now. It means keeping her safe, adjusting her already independent attitude, and instructing her on proper behavior. How much more can I expect God to parent me in such a manner?
I love it when God screws my head on straight.