So it’s almost Valentines Day!
This is the holiday of holidays to show the love and share the love. My wife and I have been married for over 30 years, and for us, Valentine’s Day will be like every or any other day that is filled with plenty of opportunity to show each other “true” love.
Sadly, in today’s day and age, we casually use and overuse the ‘L’ word while undervaluing its true meaning. We describe it more often as a feeling, and seldom, if ever, see it as a call to daily actions. As you may know, my wife and I have been teaching marriage classes and meeting with numerous couples in every stage of their relationship for about 20 years.
In every marriage class we teach, we start the first class by asking how many people remember their wedding day, vows, and ceremony. The answer is usually a unanimous yes. Of course I realize that it would be at least unwise or possible relational suicide for any husband or wife to answer any other way. We ask how many couples had a pastor or priest quote from “the love chapter,” officially known as 1 Corinthians 13. At first, their expressions were befuddled, until we begin to quote it. Suddenly, the light bulb goes on, and again, there is an almost unanimous yes.
As popular as the verses are, we are always shocked at how casually they are read, how little they are understood, and how poorly they are applied. When I said that every day provides me ample opportunity show my wife “true” love, I was referring to a 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 love. The best way to understand how to apply this scripture is to look at other scriptures.
Let’s start here:
- God is love.
- God wants us to love others as He has loved us.
- God loves us unconditionally even before we loved him in response (and without expectation of response).
- Our love for God will be clearly seen when we truly love others.
- The highest form of love is sacrificial servitude.(1 John 4:16, John 13:34, Romans 5:8, John 13:35, John 15:13)
Because God is love and loves us, he wants to be with us. He wants us to be connected with Him and connected with others. He wants unity or oneness with us, and He wants us to experience that oneness or unity with each other. Truly loving others is the key to that unity.
For us to establish and keep that unity, we must make a decision. We, too, must decide to act, serve, and love like God did and does without expectation of response, unconditionally and sacrificially. We must be willing to die to our “selfie” selfishness and self-centered nature. Rather, we must become a conduit of God’s outrageous, supernatural, and gracious love. This is a love poured vertically and undeservedly by God from heaven upon mankind. It is illustrated from Genesis to Malachi, and illuminated by Christ’s appearance and actions. It is a love of understanding, acceptance, humility and forgiveness. It is a love of personal sacrifice that can be seen in a willingness to die to one’s self if it will bring life emotionally, physically, or spiritually to someone else. What God pours vertically from heaven is to be dispensed horizontally to mankind starting with your spouse ( if you are married), and to all others.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 can certainly be as good a self-evaluation list as it is a call to action. This kind of love defies all human logic, and runs against the grain of your fleshly human nature. As a matter of fact, your flesh or human nature will likely want to run the exact opposite direction. Fear not. God will never ask you to do something he is not willing to empower you to do. (2 Corinthians 3:4-5, Phil 4:13). Submit to His will, be filled and walk ( in faith) with His Holy Spirit and give Him the glory for all that occurs.
Love is patient – God is patient
Thank God for his patience with you and then ask Him to help you remain patient with others when your patience has been tested beyond what you can humanly endure. Another word for patience is long suffering. Anyone that suffers for the sake of Christ will be richly rewarded. Love with God’s unlimited patience, read Matthew 5:46, and go for a crown!
Love is kind – God is kind
Thank God for the undeserved kindness He has shown you, and ask Him to fill you with kindness when you respond to those that have treated you with unkindness. After all, it is your kindness that will lead them to repentance. Aside from that, gentleness turns away wrath, while anger just stirs up more of the same. Another word for this type of kindness is mercy. God’s mercies are new every morning, and everyone needs a “do over” sometime.
Love never envies or gets jealous.
God is jealous for the loves of your heart. Love Him more than anything. Jealousy and envy are a source of evil and division (James 3:16). If you are jealous of someone, you must think God gave him or her something He should have given you. Instead, rejoice with those that have any reason to rejoice. Give thanks for every good gift that came down from the father of lights, even if it isn’t yours. If there is injustice, God will balance the scales. He always rewards the righteous. Jealousy is a lot like unforgiveness. You will pay the price emotionally and spiritually while others happily enjoy their stuff or circumstances.
Love does not boast, even if it has a good reason.
Anything good in you and any good thing you can do came from God. Therefore, only He deserves praise. I read about an angel in heaven that thought he was really something. It did not work out so well for him. Paul wrote two thirds of the New Testament and chose to boast only in Christ. Personally, I think he set a great example. So the next time you are up early and come home late, and no one says thank you, I’d ask myself if am I doing this for my own glory or unto Him for His? Love others as a Christ-like servant of the Almighty. Your “well-dones” will be recorded and acknowledged in heaven.
Love is never arrogant or proud–Christ humbled Himself (Phil 2:5-8)
Every weight lifter I know understands that, if you want to lift something up, you need to get under it, or you will risk breaking your back. The same is true with people. If you want to be the greatest, be willing to be the least. If you want to reach a higher calling and lift others upward, get low, while knowing who you are and whose you are!
Love is never rude – God is a gentleman.
The opposites of rudeness are consideration and courtesy. Rudeness, consideration and courtesy are all contagious. Simple acts can convey a lot of love, honor and respect, or the exact opposite. If you live and prefer a “me first, all about me” lifestyle, get ready to live alone. MEN, public belches and flatulence are signs of immaturity. They were never meant to be a source of entertainment and are best kept private. Love others with unconditional consideration and courtesy. Always say please, always be thankful, and always put others first.
Love is not irritable — God is never “bothered” by our neediness.
Thank God for His numerous and frequent invitations to come to Him, cry out to Him, cast our cares upon Him, ask Him for wisdom and approach Him in His holy throne room. Loving someone must mean that to you, they are never a bother or interruption. When you are willing and happy to put your present agenda aside and give others your full presence, thank God. He has just shown himself faithful to you and them.
Love keeps no record of wrong — God is graciously forgiving.
This is all about unconditional forgiveness. God forgives you the moment you ask. Some would say, even before you asked. He covers the memory of that sin under Christ’s sanctifying blood. When you approach the throne in repentance, He doesn’t bring up and dog pile you with all your past mistakes. There is a direct correlation between the forgiveness we show to others and the forgiveness we have received. The opposite of forgiveness is judgement. We often want to be judged by our intentions, but judge others by their actions. Be careful. If you hold on to judgement, it will lead to resentment and the bondage of bitterness. Choose to be quick to forgive and live freely.
Love does not rejoice in evil — God’s heart breaks at the sight of evil.
His heart also breaks for those that are acting evil and bound by sin.We are commanded to love our enemies and pray for those that persecute us. This is easier said than done and only possible by supernatural empowerment.
Love rejoices in the truth. Love can endure all things with hope and never loses faith in God’s infinite wisdom, unlimited power, perfect and true love.
Maybe for you this Valentine’s Day will be like every other Valentine’s Day–A card, candlelight dinner, and some kind words. But maybe, just maybe, you can commit to something greater, something supernatural and eternal. God decided to ransom Heaven to show His great and gracious love to mankind. Maybe you will decide to start showing and sharing true love in actions from this day on.
After all, true love, God’s love, never fails.