Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of the outdoor picnic season, hanging out with friends and family. Most of these groups have special “EGR” people in them (Extra Grace Required). There are two ways of doing life: the first is just pretending to like each other. Or, we can attempt to love those people who get on our nerves. 

To choose love means we must consult the most famous paragraph on love, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. This scripture is used at weddings, causing us to brush past it as a marriage passage. However, it’s addressed to all of us, all the time, for every situation.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love 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. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preservers. Love never fails.”

Since real love is in the details, a great way to start is to substitute the word “I” every time you see the word “Love.” I am patient, I am kind. I do not envy, I do not boast… This exercise is an unusually effective way to grasp that we all have a very long way to go.

In 1 Corinthians 13 patience means hanging in there longer than you think you possibly can. What is kindness? In the ancient world the same term occasionally referred to an ointment that could be applied to wounds. It is the gentle way of acting, moving and speaking (or choosing not to speak) that makes everything in life go better.

“Not easily angered” acknowledges that all of us are disappointed by circumstances sometimes. But love is what helps us recognize the wisdom of turning down the flame of reactions in the moment.

Can anyone really love like this? If it originates in our own hearts—no. But God supplies love to those who ask Him for a fresh supply. “God, help me love the extra grace required people in my life.” God answers by putting His love in our hearts. The fact is we are all Extra Grace Required people and God loves each one of us…even when hanging around us is not a picnic.

-Rev Dr William Lewis