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, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
In 1 Corinthians, Paul writes to the church of Corinth after receiving word of misunderstandings in the church and of people acting in ways opposing what Paul taught of God’s Word. Paul is my all-time favorite bible story, for so many reasons. He has a gift for writing that convicts, yet loves. Paul is a great example of who God is and how we are to approach each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Chapter 13 is titled “Love is the Greatest” in my bible… I would have to agree. Love tramples fear and casts out doubt upon strengthening the hurt and lost. The greatest commandments are based around love.
But first, let us look at how society tells us to love and what love is.
It is nearly impossible to scroll through social media and not see a post about how to love or who is lovable. Today, on Snapchat, a drawn girl tells herself she needs to be more loving to others but while walking behind someone who is moving at a slower-than-desired pace, suddenly the words, “I will destroy you and everything you love” escape her. Twitter is constantly filled with promotions for loving yourself and not caring about people who may have “done you wrong” even once. If anyone ever feels betrayed by someone in anyway, or even acted in a way you wish they hadn’t, you have a right to treat them as poorly as you wish, according to the world.
God, and His standards, are not of the world. He is love. He is unconditional, never-ending love.
“Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-39
This verse is not entirely too difficult to understand on the surface level. It’s a ‘easier said than done’ command. After experiencing the world without Christ, but also experiencing God’s grace and mercy, I strive to love my God everyday.
In any relationship where you truly love someone, you trust them, you obey them, you do not hide from them, and you don’t doubt them. This is how we are called to love the Lord. To trust Him, to obey Him, to not hide from Him, and to not doubt Him. I guarantee that in this life all of us have done the opposite of those four. What we do is dishonoring to God, therefore it cannot be love. 1 Corinthians 13 defines love clearly in verses 4-7, and it plainly states love cannot dishonor others.
“Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is hard for my generation as it goes against the grain of the media. Constantly, I am being told that only I matter, no one else should be a worry to me. When we get hurt, we feel the pain and, depending on the person/the amount of pain, we take care of it. We hear and feel the monster inside the empty dungeon, that we call our stomachs, roar and, more times than not, we feed it to silence it. When the world starts to turn shades of blue and black, we pause for some time and drink water. We love ourselves. I know I trust my body when it tells me something isn’t right. I certainly obey myself, and I don’t doubt myself. This is exactly how we are to love others. They come first, always. No matter who “they” are, “they” are loved just as much by the Lord and should be loved by you and me, unconditionally. 1 Corinthians 13: 5 states love “does not demand its own way”. It is not self-centered!! Even if caring for someone else consumes your day, do it, love them.
Selfless love is what we are called to show.
“Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law.” Romans 13:10
Paul, again, writes a simple, convicting, loving letter to Christians, but this time to Rome. This one sentence has been underlined several times in my bible. It is very easy today to disregard anyone except yourself and those who support your behavior.
PSL told me other day that I will randomly be outgoing when I say “hi” to everyone I see. She isn’t wrong. When I feel the Lord working in my life, it suddenly becomes easier to just smile at someone or say hello while walking past them. It may be a small scale of love, but love has no boundaries. After a hard day, when I feel beaten down, a smile from a random person can immediately turn my mood. Love is kind. We should desire, with a fire burning inside of us, to always show the kindness of love, our God, to those surrounding us.
Selfless love. One of my biggest personal battles. About a year ago I embarked a “how dare someone like you do something like that to someone like me” attitude. Once I started into that mindset, I was the center of my world. If what you did was going to contradict my thoughts, plans, or behavior, you might as well forget. You weren’t a thought in my mind anymore.
When God opened my eyes to how wrong that is, everything changed. You cannot claim God and love others in a selfish way. That is not what God stands for. In a previous post I mentioned that Christ is my song. If I claim Him as just that, the song stuck in my head, then I need to represent who He is and what He stands for. God is love and love is not self-centered; others will always come first where love is present. By loving others, as defined in 1 Corinthians 13, we support Jesus, we promote God, we are true advertisements of who they are.
Now hold onto your seat, your hat, whatever you want to hold, hold it tight. This is going to contradict everything the world has to offer.
“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. Luke 6:35
Hold the phone. Hold the front door. God wants us to do what?????? Love our enemies.
Do you need a second to catch your breath? It’s hard to soak in sometimes. The Lord calls us to love those who are wicked, because that is what He does. Again, if we claim Jesus we have to claim everything He stands for too, and He stands for unconditional love. Jesus is calling us to give without any strings attached to those who have personally hurt us.
My selfish love tells me to do the exact opposite. They hurt me, therefore they should feel my pain or even worse pain than what they caused me. But my Lord tells me otherwise. He sits me down and says, “Bobbie, I know they have hurt you, but I will repair your hurt and I still love them.” At first, that is like your friend hanging out with your ex. Woah, what are you doing? They hurt me and you’re my friend, therefore you need to be mad at them too. WRONG. God will always love all His children, and we need to be His lights, beaming His love everywhere we go. It may be challenging to learn how to selflessly love your enemies, God didn’t say it was going to easy, but it will bring a new light into your life.
“Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows of God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love – not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.” 1 John 4:7-12
1 John 4:7-12 is an excellent recap of what I am trying to exclaim to each of you. I could not pick a smaller section of John 4 because love is so so so important, and what is stated here is so so so important to remember throughout every day.
“Not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” Verse 10 hits hard. We do not love God as we say we do. If we loved God, we would never stray away from His desires for us. We would never doubt Him, nor would we hide from Him. Knowing our inability to love Him consistently, He sent His only Son to die for each and every person on earth so that they have an opportunity to spend eternity surrounded by only His love. That is love.
Verses 11-12 encase my most desired point for everyone to realize.
“Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.”
How can we not love each other when our God, whom we turn against daily, loves us to such an extreme? The Creator of the universe desires your heart and your attention. He wants the very best for you, regardless of your past, for when we are in Him we are created new. With a God like that, we are fools to not love each other to such a magnitude. To strive to love others as God loves you is to bring Christ back into the world.
The world is full of selfish love; I have my days, my moments, where I am only full of selfish love. There are days when the dining hall on campus serves an Oreo-cheesecake-cookie thing and it is beautiful. Pepper and I walked past it and knew immediately we wanted some after we ate our dinner. When I got up to get our cheesecake, I picked up a larger piece and a smaller piece. I’m sure you can imagine which piece I gave her.. the smaller piece. I was being selfish and only thinking about how much I wanted it, disregarding what Pepper wanted.
On a larger scale, Pepper was very sick the past week and needed medical attention. Our friend Altruistic, formerly known as Gucci, selflessly cared for her all day. I am not quite sure what he had planned for that day, but he rid all of his plans to make certain she was cared for and well. Taking her to the hospital for a few hours was maybe necessary in his head, and I don’t doubt that for a second. To the outsider, it was a perfect showing of selfless love; he pushed everything he was concerned about to care for someone else. He brought God back into the world that day.
“Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love – and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor 13:13
The greatest thing you can do is love everyone selflessly, as God commands. The greatest thing is to bring Christ into every day. Forget the selfish love the world promotes, pick up your cross, and follow Him. He will indubitably teach you how to love as He does, so open your heart.
My prayer is that you, and I the same, learn to love unconditionally. That when people look at us they see the Lord’s love flowing out of us. Open yourself to Him, allow Him to fill you with His love to the point that you cannot help to love everyone you cross paths with.
Until next post, Look Up and Keep Going.