Nearly everyone, Christian or not, has heard the famous “Love is…” verses from 1 Corinthians 13. But in case you’re not familiar, here it is:
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
To quickly put the passage into context, Paul is talking about love of all kinds for all people. Before these famous verses, Paul says that if he could speak every language on earth and in heaven, if he could prophesy, if he had faith big enough to move mountains, if he gave up everything he had including his own body to care for the poor, he could brag about it, sure. But if none of that was done out of love, then it would all be worthless. It would all be wasteful noise that meant nothing.
Simply put, an act of love without love is just an act. [Tweet that!]
We sometimes think we know what love is. For years I was pretty sure I knew what love was. I had the formula in my head. Spend time with somebody. Start to like being with them. Want to spend more time with them. Get intimate. Fall in love. Make the love stronger by spending more time with and buying nice things for each other. Share stuff, like ice cream and possessions. Eventually get married and move in together (or vice versa).
My views of love and marriage were flawed and even fatal. My expectations for my wife were unrealistic and unfair. Early in our marriage, I don’t think I even worried about my own expectations. Spend time with her. Buy her stuff. Get intimate. I had it figured out, right?
After feeling that my marriage was breaking apart one piece at a time and realizing I was to blame, along with renewing my faith in God and studying my bible more I began to work on rebuilding my wife’s faith in me.
I read about a challenge online. They suggested reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and replacing the word “love” with your own name. If your friends, your family, your wife, your children wouldn’t make those sort of statements about you, then were you truly showing love? Even worse, would they disagree with any of those statements?
Jason is patient.
I could make all the excuses in the book about ADHD and hating to wait, but according to Paul patience is a critical element of love.
Jason is kind.
Well, I try to be. But sometimes my mouth works faster than my brain. And sometimes what I need is more important at the moment than what someone else might need. This has to change.
Jason is not jealous or boastful or proud.
These three are lumped together because they point to the same problem. Do I try to make myself seem better than others by constantly bragging or “one-upping” them? How many times have I said, “Well, that’s cool. But I…” Answer: Too many.
Jason is not rude.
Uh oh. This is getting painful. I don’t think I like this challenge anymore.
Jason does not demand his own way.
Jason is not irritable.
Lord help me, this one stings. I can’t blame my parents. I can’t blame my circumstances. The truth is I have a temper and I need to control it.
Jason keeps no record of being wronged.
I bring up and point out others’ mistakes like I have a ledger on my heart. And when I’m at my worst I know which wrongs hurt the most when mentioned.
Jason does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
I really, really wish I could say I’ve never uttered the words, “Well, you probably deserved it,” or “It’s your own fault,” when other people talk about their problems. But I have…
So as you can see, this is a convicting and even agonizing challenge. The first time I took this challenge I felt defeated early on.
And then I read verse 7 and again replaced my name.
Jason never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I don’t remember if I cried when I did this exercise or not, but looking at it now I’m struggling to keep my composure. I view these last four as words of hope from Paul. It’s almost like Paul is saying, “I know loving people like this is so difficult it hurts, but don’t stop, don’t give up… ever… no matter what.”
In the struggle to love others, never give up, never lose faith, be hopeful, and endure every circumstance. [Tweet that!]
In the pursuit of being the best husband and father I can be, it will be a challenge to be patient and kind, to not be jealous or boastful or proud, to not be irritable or keep records of being wronged, and to not rejoice in the failures or injustices of others but rejoice when the truth wins out.
But I must never give up, never lose faith, be hopeful, and endure every circumstance.
If you love your wife, display these qualities every chance you get. You can’t do it on your own, which is why we need Jesus to change our hearts and make us strong enough to be transformed by His love and His mercy.
I’m not perfect. I’m a difficult person to live with. But I do have hope.