Love. 1 Corinthians 13 is like the “love chapter” in the NewTestament. I read this chapter and realize just how far from being a “lover” I actually am. We like to think love is easy. But to really love others is hard. It’s really hard. Like one of the hardest things God tells us to do. Might I be so bold as to say it IS the hardest thing He tells us to do. Love people who hurt you. Love people you don’t really feel like loving. Love people who are broken. Love people who can never love you back. Seriously? It’s hard enough to love people you like and who do love you back. And now you’re saying I gotta love all those other people too?
We throw the word “love” around like it’s no big deal and like it’s as natural as the breath we take. I love ice cream. I love you. I love cats. I love I love I love. We say we love just about everything. We have devalued the word “love” and when we are called to actually DO love and BE love it feels hard and it feels unnatural and really…who has the patience or the energy for that?!
I feel this way a lot. I read 1 Corinthians 13 and when I open my Bible I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job as this whole “love thing” and as soon as I begin reading verse 1 I realize how terribly far I’ve fallen short in loving the way God has asked me to love.
I recently read Francis Chan’s book, Crazy Love, and in the book he asks the reader to read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and as you read it replace the word “love/it” with your name.
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 and always perseveres.
This exercise was pretty convicting for me. As I read it, I couldn’t help but think…”well, sometimes I do that but I don’t always/never.” I have made a habit of reading this passage using my name on a regular basis - it reminds me of what I am called to do and it makes it personal. It also reminds me of how short I fall in the area of love. I mean, the kind of love Jesus is asking of me.
Love changes things - it lets go of junk we’ve been holding onto that’s been holding us back, keeping us from moving forward into a better future. Love finds us letting go of hate for those who have harmed us and it finds us praying for them instead (this one has taken me a long time and I’m just starting to dip my toe into these waters…it’s hard). Love is what helps us make the first step in making a relationship right when we really want to be stubborn and wait for the other person.
I don’t really think of love as something we feel but something we do, something we are, an attitude we have. We can feel loving feelings but if we aren’t acting in congruence with that feeling it doesn’t even really matter. I want to be better at “being love” and not just feeling love. It is hard. It won’t come quickly. We will have to work at it, consciously, every single day.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE.
1 Corinthians 13: 13