We are saturated with the adages, “You can’t help who you love,” and “Love blossoms in strange places,” but I rarely hear the truth about love. Satan has built a huge cult about infatuation and lust calling it true love, yet he has no notion what true love is so how can he define it?
Why do we listen to his lies about it? Simply because he tells us what we want to hear, and we rarely look past that searching for truth because the truth is, love is a lot of work. Paul does an excellent job of analyzing love in 1 Corinthians 13. We Christians tend to lean towards this chapter being more about God and His relationship to His children rather than how we should act towards our siblings in Christ and our neighbors.
However, we should realize that God is Love, and because this is so, we know beyond doubt He will act as we perceive Love acts. Since Paul was writing to the church at Corinth, we should also know he is admonishing the Corinthians what love looks like, and how it acts. Today, we are those Corinthians needing to hear what love looks like, and how it acts. Our faith comes from God; as believers we have been transformed, thus we have the new nature God has given us, albeit that new nature struggles against the fleshly desires on a daily basis. Here is a concise and full account of what Christians should look like, and how Christians should act.
Love translates different languages and jumbled emotions into understanding. Speaking in tongues of men or angels is simply clanging cymbals if one is not speaking through love. Therefore, love is a filter which strains out the uglies.
Any kind of power given by God Almighty to do His works such as prophecy and perception, wisdom of mysteries, knowledge of the bible as well as sciences diminishes into wisps of fog if one doesn’t have love as a focus or magnifier. A magnifying glass can start a forest fire because it can focus the sun’s rays upon tinder, but it is harmless when moved away from the fuel. Love focuses our energy (fueled by God) into His work that He prepared for us before the world’s foundations were formed. John tells us that God is love so we can understand that God has designed our work, He also fuels us with the necessary motivations to do the work; and He does this through love: His love for us and our love for Him. That is the strongest bond in the universe because He has physically and spiritually morphed us with the Holy Spirit into new creations.
Jesus spoke of this fuel when in Samaria after speaking to the woman at the well. His disciples came back with food and urged Him to eat. He said, “I have food to eat which you know not.” John 4:32-42. How amazing Jesus explains this food is doing the will of God and to finish His work. Then Jesus speaks of the fields being white for harvest. No one loves the unlovely, but Jesus did and testified how much when He stretched out His arms and died.
Paul tells us that without love, our ministry and works are not worth more than a drop of sweat which evaporates in the sun. Our works profit us nothing without love.
Love suffers long, or rather it is patient. How parents know this as they both love and suffer the hormonal rages of their teenage sons and daughters. We love through the pin pricks to the heart that our young children inflict, and we love through the sword stabs to the soul that our teenagers wield as they struggle for independence years before their wings are dry enough to carry them to their own homes. Love is kind, without envy or malicious revenge. It is never puffed up. Love doesn't care if a person is “popular”, but looks through the window dressing to the core of the soul. God puts us in situations, arranges our circumstances so we have opportunities to share Himself with others not so blessed as we, His children are. His deep desire is that none perish but all will be drawn to Himself. When we are willing instruments of His orchestration then miracles of everlasting life occur on a regular basis.
Paul writes of how love behaves within the society of others. Notice he doesn't say we are to act one way with our siblings in Christ and another way with unbelievers as he illustrates love's behaviors. 1 Corinthians 13:5 Doesn't force itself on others, isn't always “me first,” doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, 6 doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, 7 puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. 8 Love never dies.
Is it a formula for successful marriages? Oh, yes! And a formula for successful relationships of all kinds, successful businesses, successful political careers, successful CEOs and partnerships, successful leaders of all walks: businesses, churches, governments.
Is it possible to live lovely every second of every day for the rest of your life?
Until the flesh is completely dead, there will always be the struggle between the flesh and the spirit. We have the mind of Christ and we make a choice to live for Him, yet we will always be defending against the fiery darts of Satan. We’ll slip up every once in a while because we only know the physical side of the truth with glimpses of the spiritual side of love because God dwells within us and God is love, therefore our understanding increases the more we yield to Him. The way becomes easier the more we lean upon Him.
Because we can’t see clearly but only through a glass darkly, we trust. We must know that He is ever faithful and will always keep us because we are forever engraved in His palm.
Photo: This heart shaped pit on Mars is located on the east flank of the Alba Patera volcano in northern Tharsis. The pit was formed by collapse within a straight-walled trough known in geological terms as a graben. Graben are formed along fault lines by expansion of the bedrock terrain. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS.