I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. I’ve spent the last 6 months or so praying that God would teach me about love. My adult lessons on love have been fraught with a lot of pain. Through that pain, Jesus keeps saying “I have loved you with an everlasting love” Jer 31:3. My love for others has, at times, been tenacious and I have held onto unhealthy relationships for far too long. I need to learn what healthy, true love looks like and who better to teach me than the author of true love. So as I pray for my future and as yet unknown spouse, I am Not so much interested in romantic love or sexual love (although that love is awesome) but about true, everlasting Christ like love. I asked Him to show me love, so of course He brought me back to the word and His original description of love. Here is my paraphrase.
1 Corinthians 13
If I talk all the time about the Bible, religion and God but I don’t take time to listen to another persons story or learn what their hearts desire is, then all my talk is just a bunch of jabber.
If I can read people and circumstances really well and I have the answers to all the Jeopardy questions on TV; if I have BA’s, Masters degrees and doctorate degrees and I also talk about how much I love God, explaining to others how my faith causes great things to happen when I pray, but I never stop in my search for knowledge, to lend a hand, give a hug or listen to someone in need, then I all my knowledge will not have any meaning to anybody. My Knowledge and faith is useless.
If I give away all my used clothes, buy turkeys for the poor at Christmas, work at the soup kitchen or even build a house for habitat for humanity…if I work myself to exhaustion while giving to others but I don’t empathize with the people I am helping and forget that they are humans searching for love, if I do not care about their hurts, their wounds and their sorrows, than I am wasting my time, my energy, my money and my breath. I am not really helping them and I am no further ahead then if I had done none of those things.
Genuine, true love is only found in Jesus. He is the one who teaches us what love looks and feels like.
Love can wait. True love can go through the frustration of delay without getting angry or upset. It does not hold onto expectation but offers freedom to others and their journey.
Love is kind. True love helps others without needing to be publicly recognized for their efforts. Kind love is helpful and caring simply because a need is there and the love of Christ drives one’s heart to fill the need. Love puts others needs in front of its own.
Love waters its own grass instead of looking elsewhere for greener grass. It puts its entire self and effort into loving in that moment, completely engaged and thankful for the opportunity to be where it is. It doesn’t dwell on a feeling of discontent or resentful longing. It doesn’t keep flirting with evil but focuses on loving, even imperfect people.
Love doesn’t talk with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about its achievements, possessions, or abilities. It doesn’t need to build itself up in others eyes because it rests in self-confidence and assurance of God’s love.
Love does not shame or disgrace others. It is never abusive, controlling or manipulative. It doesn’t focus on the sin but always on redemption from sin.
Love is not focused on its self but is focused on others and gives happily of itself, only to find itself multiplied.
Love is not easily angered. Love offers mercy and grace to others. Love is self-controlled and will apologize when a mistake is made.
Love doesn’t hold a grudge. It has experienced the forgiveness of Christ and chooses to forgive, even when its hard.
Love rejoices when honor, truth, strength and courage is valued. It doesn’t keep changing its mind or seek revenge.
Love protects the hearts of those it comes in contact with and it looks for the best in others instead of focusing on how difficult a person or situation is.
Love will leave or step away, sacrificing its own heart when that sacrifice will lead to redemption of the one it loves.
Love keeps going, keeps giving, keeps fighting and keeps coming through. It seeks out, weeds out and loves out the difficulty in a relationship. It is willing to fight for truth and goes to battle for hope.
Love believes, carries on, hopes for and doesn’t quit even when everything has gone wrong and the good feelings have stopped. Love plows forward in prayer, kindness, caring and giving of itself.
Love chooses to love, even when it doesn’t feel love.
Love wins every time, even when it hurts.