Sunday, December 17, 2017

Love Defined

Yesterday our Mid-Day Motivator was titled “Works Without Love.” We discussed how Paul was saying that we could do many good things, but if we did them without love in our hearts, we profit nothing. Today, we shift our focus to the actual definition of love. In today’s society, we can say I love you to someone and the next day curse them. We say we fell in love with a dream boat, and then after time we claim we fell out of love. As I mentioned yesterday, Jesus summed up all of the law and the prophets with “Love God and love your neighbor.” I firmly believe that all of the world’s problems would be fixed by love. So what exactly is Love?  A nickname for the Bible is “God’s Love Letter”, so let’s dive into God’s Love Letter and define this word called love. 

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8A

As we dissect this passage, I encourage you to evaluate your life and the way you love. Invite God’s spirit to convict your heart and show you what true love looks like. Our passage today first states, “Love suffers long and is kind”. Other translations use the word patient here. We say we love someone, but are we willing to wait or to be patient with them? This waiting may include waiting for the other person to mature, or perhaps waiting for them to figure things out on their own. The phrase “suffers long” also indicates that this process of waiting on someone and loving them, as they maturity or figure out their direction, may be a long painful process. It may make us uncomfortable, but true love is OK with that. This section also used the description “kind.” Let’s be honest here. Because we know our family and close friends are going to “love us anyway,” we feel that we can skip the niceties. However, true love is marked by kindness, having a care and compassion for those around us. We say that we love, but are we patient and kind?

The next section that I want to take a closer look at is “love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up”. I see one of the Ten Commandments here. “Thou shall not covet”. Love would not envy, covet, or be jealous. True love would not be upset that a loved one had a better (FILL IN THE BLANK). Actually, I believe that true love would celebrate with others when they do excel or get blessed with an item that they really wanted. True love would also not parade itself or be puffed up. Our society has long promoted a “look at me” concept, while true love promotes a “look at you” concept. Love is more about the gift you give than a feeling you get.

This next section that we will dissect is one that probably gets most of us in trouble, “does not behave rudely.” We say we love, but do we find ourselves being rude? What if we asked ourselves, “Would I consider this to be rude if this was being done to me?” Much like we discussed in the kindness portion of our devotion, we will be careful not to be rude to strangers but often over look that same decent act around those we love. We need to understand that true love is not rude. The portion that says love “does not seek its own” makes me think of churches that have ejected people because they do not conform to a Christian “cookie cutter.” Next let’s look at, “is not provoked, thinks no evil”. I looked at this in two manners. One was love is not provoked and I thought, regardless of the circumstances love will not react sinfully. There are times that it seems like everyone is pushing “your buttons,” but true love will not react to those buttons being pushed. It will keep its cool. The other thought I had was that God’s love was freely given to us. We did not do anything to provoke or initiate His love in our lives.

Now let’s look at, “thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth”. Thinks no evil can also be seen in two directions. First, “thinks no evil” can be seen as the opposite of assuming the best. Once again, society has had an effect on our outlook. We automatically assume that everyone is out to hurt us or use us. This has even crept into our marriages. We jump to the assumption that our spouse is doing us wrong. Then we factor in the “rejoicing in iniquity” and it is no wonder that marriages and families are falling apart. If we truly love, we will stand against the immoral and unfair behavior. As we do this, we can begin to rejoice in the truth of what God calls right and wrong. Finally our passage ended in a phrase that I believe should be quoted in every wedding ceremony, “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”  If we live up to the definition of God’s true love, we will express that love in bearing one another’s burdens, believing the best of one another, hoping or looking forward to good things together, and enduring the tests of time. The bottom line is LOVE NEVER FAILS.

Dear Loving Heavenly Father, I pray that we will understand how you define love and use that definition in our lives. Help us become a generation that exhibits true love. We pray this in the name of Love, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

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