1 Corinthians and Agape Response

Photo by Nick Morrison on Unsplash

Most Thursday mornings I can be found at a local church where I join several other women in a unique Bible study group. We read a few verses then individually create artwork based on how the scriptures touched us on that morning.

Joan, our leader always includes another article related to the readings. The last Thursday I met with the ladies prior to my knee surgery on February 3, she printed out an article from Looking into the Lectionary with Teri McDowell Ott, based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.  This familiar passage is often referred to as The Way of Love and includes the words, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Verses 4 – 7.

After pointing out the Greek language has six different words for ‘love’ and explaining the nuances of each, Ms. Ott says:

 “As I reflected upon this lectionary passage this week, I received two angry letters to the editor. It’s not unusual for editors to receive such messages, a natural result of publishing words that anger some and please others . . . two in one week felt like a lot though. They always sting, but one was particularly scathing and patronizing.”

This caught my attention. As an author, receiving unfavorable critiques from critique partners or beta readers can feel the same way. Even if most comments are positive, any negative remarks sting.  

Ms. Ott goes on to say, “The temptation to clap back is strong. Replying quickly and swiftly . . . is a satisfying rush. Our bodies release adrenaline and cortisol during conflict, and it’s important to acknowledge how good this momentary surge of power and energy feels as we defend ourselves . . . but our fight response also fans the flames of conflict, moving us further from peace.”

How right she is. And her choice in how she responded to the emails affirmed the advice I’d been given early on about how to handle negative feedback from readers. Even more importantly, her response was based on the words of 1 Corinthians. We, as Christians are called to treat others with agape love; that is the type of love Christ showers on us. It is not arrogant, boastful, rude, or self-serving but is patient and kind, sacrificial.

So, how should I deal with the very real internal pressure that rises to ‘fight’ any supposed attacked? To be honest, as I spend time and effort on a project, it comes to feel like one of my children; and, like a protective mama bear, my hackles rise in response to any perceived attack, valid or not.

I must, like Ms. Ott, develop the habit of responding like a Christian, not a mama bear. She goes on to say, “This week, with 1 Corinthians 13 in my head, I asked myself, ‘How can I respond, authentically and genuinely, and with agape?”

I think that is a question we must all ask ourselves if we plan to publish and send our beloved words out into the world.

Here are a few tips I have found helpful based on the advice of a seasoned writer I mentioned earlier and reinforced by reading Ms. Ott’s post.

If you receive negative feedback (which can feel very much like a personal attack) don’t respond immediately. Take a day or two to process. (Love is patient.) Consider the points being made in the critique. Even if the comments seem harsh, choose your responding words carefully setting aside the need to defend or attack. Or prove you know more than the reviewer. (Love is not envious, or boastful, or arrogant or rude.) If the critique partner or beta reader makes valid suggestions, acknowledge them and be grateful the necessary changes can be made before the book is published. (Love does not insist on its own way. Love rejoices in the truth.)

I needed to read the words of this article that morning to remind me of the importance of responding to other’s thoughts and critiques, especially when they sting, with agape. I have taken to heart Ms. Ott’s final words in the article and hope to make them mine, “As a disciple of Christ, I pray that I may continue to respond from the best parts of myself, the parts of myself that God has filled with enough agape love to share.”

This doesn’t mean I will follow every piece of writing advice I am given, not all of it will apply and I need to make wise decisions. I will, however, with patience, care, and an open mind consider the efforts others have made to help make my writing stronger and more polished.


C.S. (Chris) Wachter

Author: C. S. Wachter

C. S. Wachter lives in rural Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, with her husband Joe, one German Shepherd, and three cats. She and Joe have been married for more than forty years and have three sons, one grandson and one granddaughter. Ms. Wachter earned her degree in Performing Arts and English Education from Rowan University in 1975. She compares developing a character’s perspective to preparing for an acting role. As a life-long lover of books, she has read and enjoyed a variety of genres. However, after reading J. R. R. Tolkien in middle school her favorite has been, and remains to this day, Fantasy with a Christian perspective. Published Works 2018 The Seven Words Epic Fantasy series The Sorcerer’s Bane (Indies Today 2020 award winner in Religion) The Light Arises The Deceit of Darkness The Light Unbound 2019 Demon’s Legacy: A Worlds of Ochen Short Story (based on The Seven Words series) A Weight of Reckoning (sequel to The Seven Words series) 2020 Stone Sovereigns YA Fantasy duology Lander’s Legacy Lander’s Choice. Various Flash Fiction pieces for Havok and in their anthology Stories That Sing Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cswachter/ Website: https://cswachter.com/ Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17719497.C_S_Wachter Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ch.ris8443 Twitter: https://twitter.com/CSWachter1 Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/C.-S.-Wachter/e/B079Y2R2PJ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1545059479&sr=1-2-ent MeWe: https://mewe.com/i/chriswachter

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