1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Greetings once again, it seems like forever since I have been back at this blogging thing. It seems like a lot of things have changed within this time but then again a lot of things haven’t… I am still being challenged in the area of loving authentically. I would say that the number one challenge to loving as Christ does is a certain four letter word which is fouler than any curse word… yet is acceptable to say in church settings… that world I am talking about is SELF. This is especially evidenced in verses 4-7 of 1 Corinthians 13, as displaying these attributes seem to be completely opposed to our selfish nature.
Love suffers long – literally forbearing, to patiently endure. The same word is used in 2 Peter 3:9 used to describe God’s longsuffering towards us not willing the any should perish. Just think of how God patiently endured with you prior to you accepting His love… this same kind of love must be shown by us towards others… even after years upon years of rejecting our love as we rejected God’s love. Kind – this word means to show oneself useful; to act benevolently. This means that all of our actions toward others is to spring for a desire for the benefit of others… giving no thought to how our treatment of them will or will not benefit us. Again true agape love does not boast or put on a show for others… it is to be completely void of self-boasting and should never point to ourselves but always to Christ. Often the greatest acts of love are those done in secret without any possibility of others recognizing.
Love does not behave rudely- literally it does nothing to cause shame. Often in our “humanness” we tend to make people earn our love and then hoard it over them as a guilt trip when they fail to reciprocate that love or act how we would want them to. This is completely opposed to the nature of Jesus who loved us while we were sinners and His enemies (Romans 5:8). Again, we are to display a love that seeks nothing in return but one that only seeks to give of itself not for itself. Agape love is one that is not easily angered no matter how many times someone intentionally or unintentionally offends us… again this cannot be of ourselves but drawn from God alone who in His mercy turns His wrath away from us continually (Psalm 78:38). The thought of retribution and evil coming upon others should never cross our minds, nor should we automatically assume the worst of others as too often is the case with us.
True agape love should not be happy about nor apathetic towards the sin of others but we should always seek to speak the truth even when it hurts. Too often we either wait for others to sin so that we can point the finger at them and say “I knew it” and puff ourselves up as superior. Other times we are afraid to come to others about their sin because we are fearful of how they will react towards us. But agape love seeks to speak the truth and expose sin… not to lord it over others but always for their benefit and reconciliation to God and to others (Galatians 6:1-2).
Finally, love bears all things – that literally means to cover with silence. In other words just as God’s love towards us pardons our iniquities so our love towards others covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)… so that by doing so it would point others to Christ. To believe all things means that we would seek someone’s spiritual well-being above all, that they would receive the fullness of Christ’s love… there is no higher belief that we can have for others than this. To hope all things is not to “wish for” as we commonly use the word today but rather to have a confident expectation based on our love in Christ. Lastly this kind of love allows us to endure all manners of trials and persecution for the sake of our beloved, namely Christ.
In all of these attributes of love we see one common theme… it DOES! Love is not an ethereal concept or a feeling which passes away but this love is always demonstrated in our action towards God and others. Our love for God and others is manifest in our obedience to God and His commandments (John 14:22-24), namely to love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40). This kind of love is simply impossible in and of ourselves… the more we try to love this way out of self and our own strength then the more we will fail and disappoint and frustrate ourselves. Ultimately all of the love that we display must be derived from the love that God has for us because without first receiving His love we are unable to love back (1 John 4:19). But that goes far beyond our initial acceptance of Christ and salvation… but everyday we have to remind ourselves of the great love that Christ has bestowed upon us. As we grow in maturity, so should we grow in our understanding of our sin, how much it grieves God, and with it the exorbitant price that He paid for us out of love… which even if we had a billion trillion years we could not begin to fathom the depths of His love for us (Ephesians 3:17-19). It is this deepening of our understanding of Christ’s love for us that should motivate us into action to love Him back and others as He loved us. I write this the day before my church has communion Sunday, which is always a good opportunity to reflect on the ultimate DO of love (Luke 22:19-20)… namely His sacrifice on the cross all for love’s sake. I pray that in all your christian service and growth that you never move past the cross but always reflect on that ultimate act of love.