This passage from 1 Corinthians 13 challenges me. While it is frequently read at weddings, I wonder if people actually stop and think about what the words really mean. The Bible defines love in a way that is completely countercultural, and the way that God loves us – as well as how He expects us to love others – is equally radical.
If you take a moment to read the passage again, you could easily substitute the word “love” with God’s name. Why would I do this? Easy: The Bible says that God is love. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to review 1 John 4:8 (NLT):
“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”
So now we know what God’s heart is like. How do I know how to manifest God’s love in my day-to-day relationships? I can get a pretty good idea about how to do this by slowly – but carefully – reflecting on the passage from 1 Corinthians 13, and asking myself some pretty tough questions:
- Am I patient?
- Am I kind?
- Do I envy others?
- Am I boastful?
- Am I rude?
- Am I selfish?
- Do I keep track of the wrongs that others have perpetrated against me?
- Am I quick to get angry?
- Do I relish in the misfortune of others?
- Am I honest? Do I value this attribute in others?
- Do I seek the well-being of others?
- Am I trustworthy?
- Am I hopeful?
- Am I willing to hold on and not give up during difficult times?
And if you need a picture of what this looks like lived out, take some time to read the book of John, and carefully study the life of Christ. Approach the stories with fresh eyes – even if the events contained in the book are familiar to you. Study Jesus’s words. Observe what He does. You’ll see that every word He utters, and every action He takes, is predicated upon His profound love for humankind. He models this for us as an example for us to follow. He shows us that it is possible to be loving toward others (and ourselves, too) – but only if we have first experienced God’s love within us.
Thank you for loving us, Lord.
Here is my prayer for today: Dear Jesus, thank You for showing us what love is, and how to model love meaningfully in our relationships with others. Thank You for this passage from 1 Corinthians 13, which reminds us that love fundamentally is others-oriented. Love exclusively focused on the self isn’t love at all – it is vanity – and at the end of the day, vanity is the shiftiest of sand upon which to build the houses of our lives.
Help me by the power of Your Holy Spirit to be a more loving person. Prompt me to view others the way that You do, and to remember an important truth: I may not like the actions of others, but You nonetheless command me to respond in a different way, by modeling love and not hate. This doesn’t mean that I will always like these individuals – or that I need to allow destructive and negative people unfettered access to my life – but it does mean that I can try to love them, even if it has to be from a distance. In Your name I pray, Amen.