1 Corinthians 13:4-8
4Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others; it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Love. We all yearn for it. Some people spend their entire lives looking for love. But, as a pop song states, they look for love “in all the wrong places …in too many faces.” Sadly, love is not something we find. Rather, it is something we feel.
In our modern society, this word is carelessly thrown around without thought or meaning. We ‘love’ our sports, our celebrities, our tv shows, our material belongings. But, can any of these, or numerous other objects to which we attach our affections, actually be loved? Maybe …if you are not a follower of Christ. Then, you may honestly be so lost in the world that you honestly think you love your car, boat, house, or whatever.
But if we profess our belief in God, acknowledge that Jesus died to save us, and accept the Holy Spirit into our beings, then we realize that love has a meaning that cannot be attached to earthly possessions. In fact, love is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit, as named in Galatians 5:22-23. When we are truly walking with Christ, we are blessed with the fruits of the Spirit. So then, what is love, really?
In the world, the definition of the intangible emotion of love is elusive. However, when I turn to the Bible, I need look no further than 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 to gain understanding of what Godly love looks. Patience, kindness, truthful and trusting, hopeful: these words describe love. Love never fails.
God is love! 1 John 4:8 tells me so. This passage stuck with me the first time I read it years ago, as a teenager. None of the relationships I had experienced up to that point in my life felt worthy of being labeled ‘love’ because none of those relationships resembled the God I had come to know. Even my childhood had been marked by rejection; I was the youngest of three, and my father had only wanted two children. He openly withheld love from me my entire childhood, and well into adulthood. With that as a model, I felt doomed. I remember thinking, “I guess God doesn’t consider me a good enough person to be loved.” Guess what? That isn’t how God works.
God gives us hearts with an endless capacity for love. We humans are so bogged down with feelings of inadequacy and childhood hurt that we fail to comprehend that what we are looking for as ‘love’ is often really a mere passing physical feeling of attraction to another person. We seek love to satisfy a hunger in the depths of our beings, a void in our hearts. In other words, we are self-seeking in our search for love. We want someone else to fill that void.
Only becoming a true, dedicated Christ-follower will bring us the kind of love that surpasses all others. This is the love to which 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 refers. It is a fruit of the lives we choose when we accept Christ into our lives.
For me, now, instead of looking to be loved. I live to love. The focus shifted from a selfish search to a selfless lifestyle. That changed everything. Now love flows freely in my life.
How about you? Is your heart filled to overflowing with love? Or do you feel an empty pit in the center of your soul? Does love lead you? Or are you led by a selfish emotion such as fear of loneliness? Do you live to give and serve? Or do you seek to receive and be served? Today, challenge yourself to look at your relationships, or lack of them, and see how they stand up to the love defined for us in this scripture passage. Let the kind of love that emulates Christ rule your heart!