Love… bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (I Corinthians 13: 7, 8a NKJV)
What do you think of when you think of the word L-O-V-E? Is it hearts, flowers, and chocolate? Valentine’s Day hype? Or is it something deeper? Is love romance and sex? Is love the deep care for another? What about love for our family and friends?
If love, as we know it, is so enduring and never fails, why do so many relationships fall apart?
Could it be that we need to follow a better definition of love?
Let’s take a look at the Bible’s description of love using a variety of Bible versions of I Corinthians 13.
4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud. (NLT) The New King James Version replaces “Love is patient” with Love suffers long. Certainly some of our patience with others can require some longsuffering. It’s easy to lash out or become irritated rather than to show kindness and patience. I’ve found that I have to swallow pride to go to my husband of 36 years and tell him I was wrong in a spat. An ‘I told you so’ does additional harm if I’m boasting I was right. Oh, that I would love like God does! I’m so glad my Heavenly Father is patient and kind with me.
5 [Love] is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; (RSV) It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. (NIV) Ouch. This part of the definition of love is one I need to practice more. How many times have I been irritated when the dishes have been left on the table, or angry when I thought my ‘rights’ were being ignored or I thought something would have been better if it was done my way. Didn’t I just tell my husband of someone’s wrong against me? That does not honor the person, and it certainly does not honor my Lord God.
6 [Love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. (NKJV) It does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.(RSV) A prayer partner once told me that while she wanted me to pray for her prodigal child, the specifics were best left to the Lord and not told. She didn’t want the actions of her daughter to become the focal point, or a matter of gossip disguised as a prayer request. What was important was the young woman’s return to Christ.
7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (NLT) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (NIV)
8 Love never fails.(NKJV) Love never ends. (RSV) Did you note the words “never” and “always” in these verses? True love is consistent. The Lord’s love for us is the best example. He never gives up on loving us, no matter what we do or don’t do. His love endures whatever the circumstances. There is always hope in Jesus Christ and His forgiveness. Jesus persevered even to the cross to show God’s love for us.
13 Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love. (NLT)
How can we show true, biblical love to others around us? Is our love the love with which God loves us? Let’s focus on showing true love to our spouse or romantic love interest, to our parents, siblings, children, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to flow through us with LOVE.
Dear Heavenly Father, Please teach me to love others as You love me. Help me to look past another’s foibles and to see them as You do. Amen.
Key to Bible Versions:
NKJV- New King James Version; NLT – New Living Translation; NIV – New International Version; RSV – Revised Standard Version
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