Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Behaving Becomingly

It says in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love does not act unbecomingly. And the question then comes: What does that mean? This word and its related forms are rare in the New Testament and in the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, but it has the idea of something that is dishonored and looked down on. While it can used in a more neutral sense, it is generally used of inappropriate behavior, particularly of a sexual nature (Romans 1:27; Genesis 34:7; Revelation 16:15). The implication here is that genuine love is responsible and restrained and does not just follow its impulses, wherever they lead. This is important, because in our present culture love is frequently viewed as encouraging people to simply follow their feelings. Now there is a form of ethic that views self-control as being the center of ethics and ends up harsh and unloving (Colossians 2:20-23; 1 Timothy 4:1-6; Titus 1:15). But self-denial is clearly part of God's commandment (Galatians 5:23; Matthew 16:24-26; Romans 13:11-14). Underlying this is the idea that we are sinners and all our impulses are not good things (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). Love then, Scripturally, does not mean following our impulses and encouraging other people to follow theirs, but a reasoned putting of the welfare of others before our own (Philippians 2:4-11; Galatians 6:1-10; Mark 10:42-45). This results in a love that thoughtful and intentional, not just a vague feeling. And one that is concerned whether it acts unbecomingly.

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