Love, it makes your heart flutter, the world go 'round and a host of country singers millionaires! It's pretty popular on Google too, with 2,390,000,000 pages found! That's not quite the Federal deficit, but it's still huge. Contrast that to a search for "Jesus" with just 264,000 pages found.
Jesus had a lot to say about love, and based on the Google queries, there is a boat load of other information out there. Do you suppose that some of it could be wrong? Here are a couple of verses that I rarely hear about in song; which are pretty well known. 1 John 4:8 "God is love." 1 Peter 4:8 "Love covers a multitude of sin." The favorite seems to be one that we have heard at every Christian wedding, and it is so popular that I have heard it at non-Christian weddings. 1 Corinthians 13:4 "Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails"
We have probably heard a hundred people quote it, and maybe we've been taught it. So, what do I think is missing that makes it worth writing about? That fact that it isn't happening. We are to be doers of the word, not just hearers. Hopefully the next little bit of insight will make this verse more do-able for you.
Love is patient - I would say that it allows others not to be where we are. Maybe our spouse, our kids or parents aren't on the same page as we are. I am not so sure this is a type of "anti-road rage" patience, but it is more the grace filled patience that allows us to wait while others grow in our midst. It is the part of love that makes us tell our fumbling kid that did a good job washing the car, in spite of the spots they missed. Allowing others to be human. Can you imagine the amount of patience that God has with you? The root, selfishness-- me first.
Love is kind - This one pretty much evades a lot of folks. In our stressed out, have-it-now world it is hard to be kind when we don't have any patience left for the hamburger that still has onions on it when we asked specifically for them to not be there! As someone interested in relationships, I watch how other men and woman treat their spouses. When I am out with my wife and we witness unkind behavior, we often give a look to each other that says, "if you said that to me in that tone, you'd be on the floor!" The beginning of kindness is being polite. Remember, doing the right thing for the wrong reason is still sin. Lack of kindness is simply selfcenteredness.
Love is not jealous - This one is a bit foreign to me personally. When I want something that I can't afford, or have, I am not jealous of others who have it. I am more whining before God about it, which is covetnous-- and still sin. Jealousy is a very strong emotion compelling us to be angry with one who has, and contemplating ways to harm, or avoid them. In the final analysis, it is unloving to want what someone else has been given by God. We are to rejoice with them for receiving it.
Love does not brag - At first, it seems that bragging is a simple character flaw, but not something that would repel us from others we love, and are loved by. But deep down that root is pride. Whenever we elevate ourselves about another, we are in sin. Paul said that we should brag about Jesus. I am all for that!
Love is not arrogant - This is a close cousin to bragging, but bragging is an outward "I am better than," where arrogance can be an internal disgust that may not be easily seen by others. Either way, it says that "I am better than," or "above" someone else, or their principals. The root again, pride.
Love does not act unbecomingly - In the Greek this means not acting in a way that is disgraceful to another. I am sure you can think of many words and actions which would disgrace one another. To act this way is to remove grace from another person. The very thing that we desire from God, we are to show to others. Act in a way that shows grace.
Love does not seek its own - This is a very powerful word in the Greek which literally means the following: to seek after, seek for, aim at, strive after to seek i.e. require, demand, to crave, demand something from someone. With all this energy focused on "getting" for us, we can see how it is selfish and unloving.
Love is not provoked - The Bible says that we are to encourage others, and provoke them to "good works.' The fruit of our love will be fruit in the lives of others. Do you love your kids, are they doing good works. Do you love your spouse, are they engaging in good works? How about your friends? How about your co-workers and classmates? How about the homeless, the poor, the widows and those in jail? How about your enemies, are you loving them in such a way that they are doing good works?
Love does not take into account a wrong suffered (list) - This portion of the verse is pretty much self explanatory. Love does not bring up the past to get our selfish way. It is not leverage for us to "win" or be right. Let me say this, it does not mean that we don't confront chronic bad behavior problems or addiction. As you will see, love rejoices in the truth, and sometimes the truth is that "this has been going on for along time!" and it needs to be dealt with. However; on the day-to-day we CANNOT continue to bring up past hurts to leverage a conflict. The tell-tale words here are, "you always" and "you never." It is the thing that allows past errors to be in the past. What your friend/kid/spouse did last week, last month, or last year should be off limits. The problem is that we shouldn't let the sun go down on our anger. We need to resolve it now. That is the loving thing to do. The problem is that we have decided what we need from someone else in order to "let it go," and when we don't get it, we keep it in our hearts to boil over at a later date.
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness - You know, some days we feel like justice is served. It sounds like this. "They got what they deserved," "I had a right to do it because they did ______," or "I am glad they got away with it." In the end, the root of this is judgement. We somehow feel that it's OK for certain people to to do certain things, and it is not OK for others. This is the cause of things like stereotyping/racism, heard mentality IE: cheating on our taxes because everyone else is, or laughing at another's misfortune. This is that reason that ethics training will fail, because people get to judge; there are no absolutes. So when we see a child that has been abused strike back at a parent, we have the opportunity to rejoice in unrighteousness, or have compassion on both sinners. You see, love wants to get in the deep places of the heart.
Love rejoices with the truth - Truth is meant to set us free, not put us in bondage. However; freedom is not getting everything we want, it is the ability to embrace God's truth in a way that draws us, and others closer to Him. Truth is not a bludgeon that we get to use on those we "love" when that is not loving at all. Honestly, I have heard a lot of truth over my years in the church, much of it was opinion, or versus that although true, we're not timely. The application of God's Word needs revelation as well as substance. Throwing verses at problems is not always fruitful. In the end, we must be led by the Spirit and not our own understanding.
Love bears all things - You know, I just think that this means you are there for your family, your friends and others, regardless of how you feel. I know that some times we need to end toxic relationships, but at the expense of a 50% divorce rate? Something is wrong. I have written about the mechanics of relationship before- check it out HERE. For more musings , and some additional thoughts about all things, click HERE. I think that marriage and kids are forever, everyone else we get to choose. Choose wisely who you spend your love on.
Love believes all things - This is another one that is up there with "be perfect as you Father in heaven is perfect." What is it that we believe that is loving? The simple answer is God. The more difficult one, is what about God is rehema for us personally? Does it believe in our failures? Or over look theirs? The answer is yes. But there is a supernatural element to this love, it believes in the healing, loving, infinite God, and His ability to bring wisdom, wholeness and peace to a relationship. There is not a specific "thing" that is represent by "all things." It is done in faith. This is a good time to check your heart, don't you think?
Love hopes all things - This is the part of the above, where we are not sure what all things are, but we hope for resolution, wisdom and the ability to find truth and apply it to our loving relationships. As we are required to love our neighbors, our wives and our enemies, this is for sure, a tall order. It is not wishing for things, but meditating on ways to make His love show though us-- and doing it.
Love endures all things - There is place in life where we may not have feelings of love, nor feel like putting any more effort into a relationship. And here is where God asks us to do it one more time, for one more day. He asks us to be forgiving, while displaying the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians (NIV) 5:22 ) He asks us to do this while not being sinfully angry.
Love never fails - In terms of God's love for us, how cold he fail? He is love. How is that we respond to mankind, that is really the measure here? Love pursues others without hoping for a return. If love is to never fail, it must not have any requirements for dispensing it. Are we always loving, that is the question.
You may have noticed that I did not use the word feeling but only once in this blog. That is because we can't rely on feelings. We need to act; love is an action. When we do that, we are likely to have feelings of love... but maybe not. That doesn't mean that we have missed God, it means that we don't have the feelings.
You see, love is not at all humanly possible. To act according to the Bible, we must have God to do it, and even then we'll fail at times. It is religion that is a killer because it is only with a deep and abiding relationship with Jesus, that we can even begin to hope all things-- and then do it.