Known as the “love chapter,” we see here how God desires us to live. That has been our focus over the past week. What a powerful passage to bring this theme to a conclusion. We know we are to love God and love others. But what is love? These verses beautifully showcase what love is as well as what it is not.
Paul uses actions words to describe love; it’s patient and kind. Love is not merely a feeling at all. When we love someone else, we exhibit patience and kindness towards them. If you struggle at times, it might help to think about the patience and kindness God has extended to you. It’s hard to say we love someone if we’re mean to them. Our love will be tested by circumstance, but even in the hard times love will prevail in the ways described here.
Interesting that we read more about what love is not. “Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” When we imagine what our love for others looks like to the onlooker, do we see any of these traits? I love the last line of this so much, love “endures through every circumstance.” I have clung to that truth many times. Life happens to us all. I’m so glad love never gives up!
But what about love not being irritable? I’m not sure this means I can’t or won’t be irritable (because I can be at times). Rather, when we find ourselves in a grumpy, irritable mood, that doesn’t (or shouldn’t) change the fact we love or that love is present. We’re the irritable ones in that moment, not our love. Think about how much you love your child despite them making you cranky with their behavior. God loves us that deeply, too, even when he’s disappointed in us.
Most of the weddings I’ve attended over the years included a reading of this passage. A marriage relationship is a good place to start practicing “love.” But our ability to love and call to love others extends so much farther than our spouses.
How about you? Do you have a hard time “loving” up to these standards? Take a moment to think about your most intimate relationships (spouse, children, family). We even stumble at times with those closest to us. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up; we can only do better next time.
I suggest looking at relationships outside our inner circle. Are we being loving toward others? Do they feel loved? Are we presenting ourselves as lovable so that others can love us? I love how this passage ends. “Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love.” This is so in alignment with how God desires that we live.
God desires only the best for his children. We’ve seen examples of that over the past few days. Do you feel empowered with clarity on how you want to live your life? There are plenty of other passages that speak to God’s vision for us.
I stumbled upon one just the other day in Romans 12:12. “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” While it’s not necessarily about “love,” there are some good reminders here. Again, being patient pops up. Patience, you’ll remember, is one of the fruits of the spirit that we can experience by having God’s Spirit inside us. God doesn’t desire the unattainable for us. He even gives us the power we need! Rejoice in that and be lovable today!
Let’s pray. Father, thank you for how much you love me. Help me to focus on your great example when I have a hard time loving others. You love them and so should I. May I continue to reflect on this wisdom about love and what it should or shouldn’t look like. May my love and devotion to you grow strong. I long to grow even closer to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.