Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
For the Christian community, the above is the quintessential passage on love. It is often quoted and, therefore, can be easily glanced over rather than truly assimilated into the deeper recesses of our souls.
Whenever I slow down and really read these verses, I am humbled and challenged as I realize how often I fall short of this standard. Maybe that’s the point, though. We can never fully and always meet the world with this degree of love. But it’s a great goal to set, and if we aim for such a high standard, then we are bound to achieve greater love than if we settle for the world’s definition of love.
The world says love is all about emotion and is an uncontrollable force that causes you to fall in love one day and out of love the next. The world says you are helpless to the whims of this kind of love. But the Bible says otherwise. Take a look at the verses again and you will see that love requires choosing your actions and controlling your emotions. You must choose to be humble when you want to be proud; you must choose to honor others when you want to tear them down; you must choose to forgive when you’ve been hurt; you must choose to protect, trust, and persist in hope. And you must walk in the truth and delight it.
I’ve often heard it said that God is love. That being true, then the above verses are not just a list of what it means to love, but they are a glimpse into who God is. This is God-level love, and He graces us as His image-bearers to carry His love into this world. The world so desperately needs to see what real love is, how real love behaves, and to witness the result of real love’s work in our lives.
God’s love is unfailing. His love for us is so powerful that He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins. Jesus loves us to such a degree that He chose the cross, He chose to bear our sins, and carry our shame so that He could gift us with the Holy Spirit’s presence here on earth and so that after our time on this earth is over, we can spend the rest of eternity with Him in heaven. That is what real love looks like. It is easy to look at the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians and see Jesus in these verses. Jesus calls us to learn to live these verses as well.
Learning to love like God loves is a challenge. It is a challenge worth accepting.
May we accept the challenge to love more like Jesus each day.