Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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. Love never fails.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13: 4-8, 13
Let’s break this down a bit:
- Always protects
- Always trusts
- Always hopes
- Always perseveres
- Rejoices with the truth
Love does not:
- Keep record of wrongs
- Delight in evil
Love is not:
- Easily angered
Love never fails.
Huh? Never? Sheesh. How is that even possible? And what about the rest of the list? Where’s the part about love feels good? I don’t know about you, but none of these things come naturally to me [except Love always protects]. I’m not very patient most days. I get mad when I don’t get my way [that’s self-seeking, rude, and easily angered]. I lose hope sometimes, and I give up when anything gets uncomfortable… At least I used to, writing this is pretty uncomfortable, but I will finish it.
And you know what the worst thing is? My family, the people I claim to love the most, are the people who see my worst behavior. The people who get to see the not-so-pretty side of me are the very people I would cut off my left arm to protect [I’m left handed]. What’s up with that?
I love them in the sense that I feel a strong emotional attachment to them. But, if I’m reading this right, that’s not what the Bible means when it talks about love. It’s talking about a choice, not an emotion. I can choose to be patient with people (and do so every time I let some one cut me off in traffic without flipping them off.) I can choose not to cut people down behind their backs (or even just in my head) when they appear more successful than I do right now. I can choose to be genuinely happy for people when they accomplish something. And you know what’s weird? Sometimes when you choose to love people even though you aren’t “feeling” it right then, the feeling will come after. That’s just amazing to me. It’s kind of like the whole “you will see it when you believe it” thing. You will feel love when you show love to others. Is that true, do you think?
But back to loving my family. I have a lot of years worth of showing my worst side to those I love most, and old habits die hard. I’m gonna have to work on this every day and consciously CHOOSE to love my family 1 Corinthians style. And while it’s true that we have to do the foot work, I don’t think this is something we can do alone. I’m talking about prayer. Lots of it. Like maybe every morning asking God to help me love my family the way He loves me. ‘Cause, you know, when God told us about love, He was using himself as the example.
That comforts me, because I can know from these verses that God never fails, he never allows anything that can’t be used to our good if we love him [trust, hope, and persevere no matter what?]. God is Love. He made it up. He is faithful and will choose to love us every time. Best of all, he will help me CHOOSE to love others His way, every day. Even my family [especially my family] and the blue haired lady driving way too slow in the passing lane on the highway, and the obnoxious kids down the street, and the rude cop who pulled me over and gave me a ticket… well you get the idea.
*disclaimer: except for my family, the examples listed above are inventions of my imagination and in no way represent real people or events… no, seriously…*
So what do you think? Am I on the right track, here?