It is Valentine’s Day, so it seems appropriate to talk about love. We love so many things; that cute puppy video on Facebook, dark chocolate, and the new sweater I just got. I also love my family. But, I am talking about real love. The kind we find in the Bible.
Love is patient and kind. 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. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!
Friends, this is not only a prescription for how to love your spouse and your family. Actually, Paul was writing to the Christians in Corinth. He was writing to teach them how to love one another.
but love in its fullest and most extensive meaning, true love to God and man, a benevolent disposition of mind towards our fellow-Christians, growing out of sincere and fervent devotion to God. This living principle of all duty and obedience is the more excellent way of which the apostle speaks, preferable to all gifts. Nay, without this the most glorious gifts are nothing, of no account to us
Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible https://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/1-corinthians/13.html
Did you know these directions are for how we should treat one another? How we should treat the people we see at church and those we sit across from in life groups, book clubs and ladies’ events?
So, let’s break down our directive from God about love.
Love is patient and kind. – Patience is difficult. When someone doesn’t listen to me or is taking a long time to either do something or understand something, I get bothered. Hurry up already. But I think this is also important to remember when it comes to people making changes in their lives. Yes, the changes may be very beneficial, but each person needs to come to it on their own terms. No one changes because they are yelled at or rushed.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. – I think we are pretty clear these things are not in the “good” column, but I have to say, there I times I use them. I wouldn’t like to admit to being jealous, but I am. I am proud. I want respect and want people to recognize me. I am rude.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. – I think this is a difficult one. People hurt us. Sometimes we are not invited or we are overlooked. This hurts. I recently listened to Alisa Keeton speak about offenses. She reminded us that this is not the way God intended things to be. It is okay to be hurt and to grieve your hurt. Let God step in and minister to that hurt place.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. – Sometimes we do this by negating what someone has experienced. Sometimes we rejoice because we feel someone “got what they deserved.” But justice is something that can only come from God. He knows the heart.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. – We must focus on loving as Jesus did. He did not give up. He knew there would be times we would blatantly choose a path contrary to what is best for us, but He still stays beside us. He is like the father in the prodigal son story, watching and waiting for our return.
Our world teaches us to be in competition with one another. If you have something and I don’t, I can’t be happy for you. No, I need to get it for myself or outdo you. This is the scarcity model.
A scarcity model—as opposed to an abundance model—is a set of beliefs that there is not enough happiness, not enough recognition, not enough love, not enough money, not enough work, not enough (fill in the blank) to go around, and that we will lose—we won’t get what we need—if we don’t fight for everything. That blank can be used for anything the individual believes they are short of (though usually, at root, it is love, usually sublimated as money).
Basically, this teaches us that when something good happens to our friends, there is less for us. This is completely counter to what the Bible teaches. God is the God of abundance. With Him, everything is limitless.
Friends, in ourselves, we can never be any of these things. It is work and as soon as we do well in one thing, we will trip over something else. But God is in us, He is with us. We are not alone. If you know there are areas you have difficulties, lean into Him. Let Him know. He already knows, but He loves to hear His children ask to become more like Him. And He will.
My life group is reading through the Bible in 2018. We are currently in Exodus where God is telling Moses exactly how to build the tabernacle. God had very specific instructions because this is the place He would meet with His people. But in Exodus 35:30-35 and Exodus 36:1-7 we see that God provided Bezalel, a master craftsman, to build and oversee the details. He also provided all the materials for the tabernacle from the people. These were the very treasures the Egyptian people gave to the Israelites as they left Egypt.
God provides! He has very specific instructions for how we should love, but He provides exactly what we need when we come to Him.
God, You have the master design. I know that I fall short in really loving the people around me, but you don’t give instructions without making a way. Help me to bring my shortcomings to you, so you can make them glorious for You. Teach me to love as you perfectly planned; not only because it is what others need, but it is also what I need. Thank you for caring about every aspect of my life.
Teresa Neal is a Christ follower, wife, and mother. Her passion is to see women grow in their relationship with Jesus and understand how great His love is for them. She is attends LCBC Church in Waynesboro and leads a women’s life group. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.