Love Never Fails
“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.”
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
This is a famous passage of scripture that many of us will be familiar with. It is often heard at weddings and makes the congregation go “awwwww.” Nice and romantic isn’t it!
The thing is, this passage is so much more than just a romantic notion. This is challenging, gritty, and is at the core of who God calls us to be as Christians. Indeed, as Christians, we are all striving to become a reflection of Jesus—that perfect embodiment of love. Therefore, we need to pay attention to what the Bible says about love and build our lives on that foundation.
Jesus said that the greatest commandments are to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:37-40) and that all the 613 laws of the Old Testament could be summed up in those two simple statements.
So how does this apply to us? Let’s put our own names into this scripture for a moment: “Tim is patient, Tim is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast, he is not proud.” That is who God is calling you and me to be. While my life may be a partial reflection, I certainly don’t live this statement out to full!
Love comes first; everything else comes second.
Indeed, when I apply these words to my life, I can see a sliding scale based on the significance of that person to me. I think with regard to my wife I do a reasonable job of being that reflection of love—not perfect but doing okay. Similarly, with regard to my friends, I do a reasonable job—though maybe less consistently. But, what about those I don’t know? What about the unhelpful call center assistant who, despite a 50-minute call and who put you on hold 3 times, still can’t fix your broadband contract? That’s where I see myself starting to fall down.
As John’s Gospel (John 13:34-35) says, it is our love for one another that sets us apart. That is how we show people Jesus—through audacious, exceptional love. This is not limited to just Christians; Jesus says to love everyone—the full spectrum—from those who love you to those who hate you.
This is what it really means to love. Love is not a nice feeling that makes you warm and fuzzy inside. It’s about being willing to lay down yourself, pick up your cross, and follow Jesus.
So here, we could really expand on the Apostle Paul’s words (insert your own name into the blanks):
____ is patient with those are frustrating.
____ is kind to those who are cruel.
____ doesn’t envy those who have what he wants.
____ does not boast to those he wants to impress.
____ protects those who are weak.
____ trusts those who are untrustworthy.
____ hopes for the hopeless.
____ perseveres for the faithless.
____loves with a love that never fails.
Love comes first; everything else comes second. As Paul goes on to say in Corinthians, if we miss out on love, we are a clanging bell, and our efforts count as nothing. When we put love first, everyone will know that we are His disciples.