I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot over the past month. When I saw the verse of the day on my Youversion app, I just had to blog about it! 1 Corinthians 13. This chapter of the Bible is recited in many instances. People hear it at weddings. You may see it in greeting cards around Valentine’s Day. Some people may use it as a reminder to others (in good or bad ways). I’ve even heard it used to scold a spouse (“Love doesn’t keep a record of wrong!”).
The scripture is beautiful! It captures a perfect picture of unconditional love and what we are called to do when the Bible tells us to love. It sounds incredible, right?! But how many of us can live it, to the letter, when facing our spouse, our family, or our children? It’s a tough calling. It’s even tougher when we apply it to the world.
When we picture romantic love, we can envision love in so many different ways. The easiest, and sometimes the most expected, portrayal of love is found in movies. Many little girls wish they were princesses ending up with prince charming. In many movies, there always seems to be some relationship or love element involved. Even the Lord of the Rings movies added a character that was non-existent in the book in order to fulfill some sort of love story desire sought after by the majority of people. My daughter comes home and talks about her favorite shows or actors and how she and friends “ship” them. This “ship” isn’t “worship”, but rather “relationship.”
The point is this: we desire to love. It’s in ingrained in us as humans. But do we set unfair expectations? Is it possible to possess the love that we see and seek for our spouses? 1 Corinthians 13 says it is. But it certainly doesn’t come easy.
When I look at my wife, she always looks at me with the deepest love I’ve ever seen a human being look at someone. It’s more real than the movies. It’s incredible to be loved so much. There are, of course, many things that the couple has to work together on in order to achieve this. I’m not a psychologist. I don’t consider myself a love expert, but I am a student of love because I am a student of the Bible. Here are a few things to consider for your own:
- Love God first. If you both love God, you will draw closer to Him individually. As a result, you will then draw closer to one another.
- Remember that your spouse is God’s gift to you. It may not seem like it sometimes, but you have to look at your spouse through the lens of God. He created all and loves all. None of us are perfect, but if we let them, spouses can bring out the best in one another.
- Love is a verb. It is not a feeling or a step beyond like. It is a commitment stronger than any other verb that you can think of. It can be a challenging thing to do, but brings powerful results when you stick to it.
- If you make it a point to make your spouse happy and you both follow the first three, they will, in turn, make it a point to make you happy as well.
Again, I’m no expert. I’m still figuring this thing out. But when I look at my marriage right now, it is stronger than I could ever imagine just by committing to those bullet points. As I stated earlier, there is a lot to it, but this is at the core. We will be married 6 years on Saturday. It feels like we’re still newlyweds, but it also feels like we’ve been together our whole lives. I will easily marry her all over again.
Looking at our family as a whole, including our spouse, we see a group of people who see the deepest parts of us. They see and deal with the things that the public may or not see. We are called to love our family–seemingly by default. However, Love is still a verb. We have to love them even if we don’t like them!
I hear that said as a joke quite often, but it is true. We have to work to be there for one another. If our family isn’t there for us, who would be? Arguably, our close friends will be in the absence of our family (for those of us who have friends!), but I include these close friends as family. The topic of this section should read “Our Family and Close Friends.” But I say this: our commitment to our friends should be just about synonymous with the commitment we have to our family. Let me explain.
When we talk about love in English, there is one word that encompasses all meanings. “God loves us,” “I love my wife,” “I love my friends,” and “I love my step-daughter” all use the same word as “I love pizza.” In Greek, those are all different words. (Source: Wikipedia)
- Storge refers to our love for our children
- Éros refers to romantic love or what we feel towards our spouse.
- Philia refers to brotherly love or friendship. (think of Philadelphia)
- Agápe is used to describe God’s love for His children (among other descriptions). This is the unconditional love that drove Him to give his Son for us.
I believe that, as Christians, we are called love all with agápe love. 1 John 4:19 says that we are able to love because he first loved us! If His agápe is what he shows us and we are now able to love, wouldn’t it be best to follow His example? It’s a tall order, but we can start with forgiving our children, our parents, our siblings and other relatives. Let’s stop keeping track of how many times so-and-so did whatever (within reason) and teach them that we will love them no matter what. When was the last time you told everyone that you love them?
Oh boy! Love your neighbors, love your enemies, love everyone! This sounds like a tall, unrealistic, and unreasonable order to most of us. And in some ways, it may be. But the Bible says otherwise. When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, He gave two. He said, “‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” This is found in Matthew 22:36-39. But what does this mean?
A neighbor isn’t just the person who lives next to you. Your neighbor can be a family member, a friend, or an enemy. The scripture doesn’t distinguish between those, though. He simply says “neighbor.” I can think of countless verses that talk about feeding your enemy, giving them drink, and even giving them the clothes off your back, but how many of us do it? Furthermore, in the very next verse, he says this: “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Furthermore, in the very next verse, he says this: “The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” This means that loving everyone is not just a suggestion. It is what he calls us to do in order to fulfill the other commandments. I’m personally at a position now where I can confidently say that I don’t hate anyone. A neighbor called the authorities on me because I wasn’t keeping my yard. They were right in doing so, so I had to make it right. A friend of mine just went to jail for doing some things behind closed doors that I don’t want to even think about. I still pray for him and still love him (even though I can’t stand the thought of what he did). Terrorists seek to kill and destroy innocent lives, but I can’t say that I hate them. I know nothing about them. I just can’t understand why someone would be filled with such hatred that they feel compelled to do such things.
Does this mean “do not get upset.” Of course not. The Bible says, “In your anger do not sin.” However, continue to show love. Don’t let anger linger until you can’t stand it anymore. I know this is easier said than done, but when all else fails, pray for that person. Earnestly pray for them (not out of spite).
Love for Christmas
Share love. Display love. And be content that you are loved. Remember that those who love you don’t have to, but they choose to. They may have reasons other than from God, but accept that. We take it for granted all the time, but it is truly an amazing gift. Show at least one random act of kindness to all that you come in contact with this month. If everyone did this, we will truly feel the spirit of Christmas. Comment below about what acts of kindness were shown to you recently.