1 Corinthians 13 is known as "the love chapter". It's probably the most popular passage quoted and read at weddings. But do we really grasp the magnitude of what those 13 verses tell us? It's not just a recipe for a happy marriage. It's a recipe for life. At the end of every day, what it all boils down to, is how well I loved, or didn't love. Whatever I do, no matter how good my intentions are, if it's done without love, I might as well have not done it at all.
1 Corinthians 13 is a pretty amazing list of what love is and isn't. Immediately I realize how much my heart needs to adhere to this list more closely.
Love suffers long and is kind.
Love does not envy.
Love does not parade itself.
Is not puffed up.
Does not behave rudely.
Does not seek its own.
Is not provoked.
Thinks no evil.
Does not rejoice in iniquity (sin), but rejoices in the truth.
Bears all things.
Believes all things.
Hopes all things.
Endures all things.
Love never fails.
Never fails. It almost seems like an impossible standard to live up to. In fact, it is an impossible standard to live up to - on our own. Have you ever read 1 Corinthians 13 and thought to yourself, I'm going to do that! That's how I want to be! Or am I the only one? And then, less than an hour later, you find yourself snapping at your husband over something trivial, or selfishly thinking about what YOU want, or just behaving less-than-lovely? Why are we so quick to forget? I don't know about you, but for me, love doesn't always come naturally. I often feel like it shouldn't be so difficult, but my heart is filled with selfishness and thoughts of me, me, me. Self. Pride.
When I started thinking about the topic of God's love and reading more about it, I kept running into the same verses, in random places, in the same week. Coincidence? Not likely. I always know when God is trying to press something on my heart when the same themes keep showing up, over and over. I love when that happens.
One of those examples is 1 Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known." This verse has always seemed a little unclear to me. But it makes complete sense. The light bulb went off in my head. My whole why-can't-I-just-be-more-loving way of thinking is for a reason. When we look in a mirror, we only see part of the picture and portions of our reflection. It's a pretty close representation of reality, but it's not a real, living, breathing, thing. The love that we experience here on earth, as wonderful and inspiring as it may be, or as disappointing and flawed as it may be, is only a dim reflection of the magnitude of God's perfect, all-encompassing, overpowering, beautiful, true love. Even our best efforts to "love better" will always fall short. But not God's love. The way he designed real love, never fails. Never.
1 John 4:8 says, "He who does not love does not know God, for God is love." I think the first Bible verse I ever learned as a child was, "God is love." So simple, yet so profound. God IS love. Love IS God. We will never be capable of fully loving the way that God intended, until we are in Heaven, with Him, face to face. For now, He's given us just a glimpse of what love is about, and shown us the greatest Gift of love, through Jesus Christ, His Son.
So, what can I do now to be a more loving person? 1 Corinthians 13 is an excellent guide. We should cling to these love attributes and strive to live them out in everything we do. Bearing, believing, hoping and enduring all things. ALL things. Will we fail? Of course. Will we mess up and be unloving at times? Yes. Will envy and selfishness creep in, sooner than we'd like? Unfortunately, so. BUT, we serve the God of the universe who created love and who IS love, and HE never fails. Ever. It's only through HIM can we learn what love is, and try to reflect His love to the world around us.
Next time you catch a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, remember that we are reflecting His love. And one day, we will see the whole beautiful picture and feel love like we've never known.
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