Everything? Yes! “Do everything in love” (I Corinthians 16:14). What a challenge!
It gives me a lot to reach for in my life. It offers me the opportunity to live outside of myself and to inject true meaning into whatever I do. I too often fail, but I keep reaching for this better way to live.
Reflect with me on the emphasis, examples, and definitions of love.
- These three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love (I Corinthians 13:13).
- Love is the “most excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31).
- Where love is absent, all other gifts and service are empty noise (I Corinthians 13:1-3).
- “Over all virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity” (Colossians 3:14).
- “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (I Peter 4:8).
- “Follow the way of love…” (I Corinthians 14:1).
The entire New Testament emphasizes the supremacy of love (Philippians 1:9; II Corinthians 8:8; I Thessalonians 3:12; Hebrews 10:24; 13:1)
Love is so important that the apostle John wrote
- I John 3:14 – “Anyone who does not love remains in death.”
- I John 4:8 – “Whoever does not love, does not know God because God is love.”
- I John 4:12 – “If we love one another, God lives in us…”
- I John 4:20 – “Anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
- John 13:1b – “Having loved His own who were in the world, He showed them the full extent of His love.”
Jesus Christ set the example of love
- John 13:4-5 “He laid aside His outer garment, girded Himself with a towel, filled the basing with water, washed the disciples’ feet and dried them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.” Then, Jesus said (John 13:15) “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” A little later, He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35).
- “Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us” (Ephesians 5:2).
- “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
The supremacy of love
“Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments … are summed up in this one rule: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Romans 13:8-10).
The final apologetic “By this (love) all men will know… ” (as Francis Schaeffer noted)— is authentic loving Christian community — the visible display of the gospel. “Fair enough,” you say. “But what does love look like?” The answer is revealed in I Corinthians 13:4-8a. The 15 verbs describing love imply for their background the challenges we face in relating to others.
Love is a prescription against rivalry and dissension. Relationships known for rivalry, dissension, comparison, competition, envy, retaliation, gossip, and slander are the exact opposite of love!
God’s prescription for great relationships
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV).
Those who practice this minimize conflict because this love is anti-rivalry. Playful rivalry is not bad but when a relationship deteriorates, some form of divisive rivalry is involved.
1. Love is patient: It is long-suffering. It restrains anger when provoked. Patience is more than passive waiting. It’s active restraint in the moment of provocation. God is patient (Romans 2:5; II Peter 3:9).
2. Love is kind: It reaches out in good will with acts of care and concern. Love not only patiently forebears, but through kindness, actively pursues. Loving people are distinguished by their kindness. God is kind — even to the ungrateful and wicked (Luke 6:35-36; Titus 3:4-5)
3. Love does not envy: It does not resent the blessings of others. Envious people engage in evil rivalry. The envier gloats over the harm or misfortune of the envied. Enviers delight in evil.
4. Love does not boast: Love corrects the desire to call attention to self. A loving person is not a windbag or braggart. He does not parade himself. Love is willing to work anonymously. It needs no limelight or stage, applause or recognition.
5. Love is not proud: not puffed up; not arrogant; not full of oneself. A loving person does not think more highly of himself than sober judgment dictates (Romans 12:3).
6. Love is does not dishonor others: It is not rude. It is respectful of others.
7. Love is not self-seeking: It does not insist on its own way. It is not self-absorbed.
8. Love is not easily angered: It is not easily agitated nor easily provoked. Loving people are not hot-tempered, short-fused people.
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs: Love seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. When hurt badly, this part of love is hard to practice.
10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth: This rules out gossip, slander, and Schadenfreude (delight in the downfall of others).
The grand finale – Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.
There is nothing love cannot face and endure.
Four verbs (protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres) offer repeated emphasis on how love brings everything under its influence. Love is tenacious and faithful. Love is positive and hopeful. Love is brave and noble; it never fails.
God, please help us to love as you have loved us.
God is love! (I John 4:7-8).