Old Familiar Verse
Do I really understand love? Do any of us? Do we understand what it is or how it really acts? Growing up I must have heard the passage on love from 1 Corinthians a ton of times, but until recently, it never really registered. Once it did I started thinking and feeling like I’m failing at real love.
1 Corinthians is a familiar passage for many. It is one of those scriptures you will hear in the most surprising of places. I have heard it in random movies, seen it tattooed on unexpected people and proudly “quoted” by those who would use it to their own secular advantage.
It seems we are great at throwing around scriptures we are familiar with and cutting them out of context to fit into whatever cause we need them for.
Oh, things are hard but we know that things work out for those who love God. Well, that’s not all that passage says it goes on to say, “for those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:28-29).”
We conveniently use the verses we need to get us out of jams or justify our shortcomings, but we rarely stop to let those verses make us better. Instead of us forming those verses to fit our lives we should be allowing those verses to form us. It is not about pulling a verse out of a hat and waving it around like a magic potion. It is about deep, intentional transformation. Which kinda hurts.
Do We Really Love or Really Fail?
1 Corinthians is often thrown into the mix because humanity loves the idea of love. We praise Pauls artistic ability to describe what love is and what love should be but do we ever stop to think about how he knows all of this? Was Paul married, did he have relationships, how could he understand this? Well, once upon a time in his life on the way to Damascus he did fall in love and it was blinding to him. He fell head over heels for the Savior of the world.
He didn’t have to have the love between a man and a woman because he experienced first hand the love between Creator and creation. Jesus Himself showed up and rocked Paul’s world.
Paul knew from that encounter and the stories he would hear after what love was. He knew how love would act because he gave his everything to be love in action. He really knew love because he really knew Jesus.
Having heard part of this passage recently I had to stop and ask myself, “Do I really know love? Do I really know Jesus kind of love?”
What Love Looks Like
An encounter with love changes everything. It changes thoughts, words, actions, everything. An encounter with love is what poets have written about for years. Authors have created their version of it for profit. Movies have sold facades of it. People have tried to understand it. But all to no avail because love cannot be found in any of those things. No books written by hard-pressed authors, no poems jotted down by the old greats, no movies, no music and no relationships will ever produce real love.
Why? Because real love only comes from above.
Once we experience the love of Jesus a love so great our limited minds cannot even comprehend it, we can then begin to be expressions of real love to others.
How? By allowing Christ to live out 1 Corinthians 13 through us.
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.
Failure Should Help Us Grow
See those words in that passage? Those hard words like is patient, not arrogant, insisting on one’s own way? Yeah, those are a few areas I fail at. Not to mention the being irritable or resentful. Who am I kidding, just about every “Love does not…” I fall short of, but I am learning, failure helps me want to do better.
All my life I have been secretly competitive. I try to act like losing is no big deal but I can definitely be a sad loser at times. Well, seeing how bad I was losing at living in real love has caused me to put aside being a sore loser and put on my determination.
As a human I will fall short, I will have moments of failing, but the only way I become a failure is if I never put effort into getting better. Failing should propel us to growth. A seed has to “fall” and sometimes we have to fail in order to know how to grow stronger.
How many times did Thomas Edison get his experiments wrong? How many times do you think Jordan missed the shot or Manning fumbled the ball? More than we will ever know. The difference in them and us? Their failures propelled them into greatness.
To fail is not an excuse to give up, it is simply a reason to try harder or even try a different way.
We can walk in Jesus kind of love because it is a part of who we are, but we will have to try. Let’s do this together. Let love win in our lives and in the way we treat others.
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