So, you might have expected to see a blog about love last week on Valentine's Day. But maybe it's just as well that my timing was off because it might not really fit with the mushy, gushy heart-shaped candies and roses approach to love that was central to last weekend. It seems to me that the word "love" is one of our language's and culture's most overused word. Just think about it.
Seeing people smile
A beautiful sunset
A great cup of coffee
My God and Savior
Wow! Now there's a list for you! Of course, we all readily recognize (I hope) that all of these "loves" are not equal. Yet we use the same word to talk about all of them. So, it shouldn't be too surprising that we have a hard time figuring out what love really means in relationships.
When I was about five years old, my parents made the three of us kiddos memorize I Corinthians 13. The whole chapter. And I couldn't even read yet! What mean parents, right?! Maybe you know what the chapter is about, but just in case, let me share it with you.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love."
So why would my parents think this was worthy of committing to memory at the ripe old age of five? In all fairness, at the time I think it had a whole lot to do with sibling rivalry. But several decades later, those words still run through my mind and through my heart. They serve as a kind of a compass, pointing the way to true love. The second paragraph is such a clear description of how love acts:
You see, true love shows itself to be true. Not perfect, as we all make mistakes, but consistent. Love chooses to treat other people in a way that honors them and protects them. These choices stand firm in spite of the emotions of the moment. True love chooses right actions to protect and care for the one that is loved. Emotions come and go and can be swayed by thousands of different influences from weather to amount of sleep you've had to the fender-bender you had on the way home. But true love is different. You can count on true love to remain steadfast regardless of the momentary emotions that may or may not contribute in a positive way.
It's hard work. It's choice. It's commitment. It's worth it.
May we all demonstrate love.
Thanks for reading.
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