Focus: Learning from our mistaken impression of love
1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (NKJV) Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Let’s talk about love. As of today, the Google search engines have 8,860,000,000 results for the word, ‘love’. My guess is that most of those results are not about ‘love’ at all. I would venture ‘love’ is more searched for than anything in the world—especially on the internet. There are people who would give up everything they own for a lasting, true love relationship. Many people are looking so hard to find something they can’t even define. There are so many things that love is ‘not’. But, before we can go very far in this ‘search’—shouldn’t we know a little more about what love ‘is’?
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I used to think I didn’t have much right to say anything about ‘love’ and relationships because of all my past failure. I had a lot of ‘experience’, but not the kind that would qualify me to be an expert on the topic of ‘love’. As I considered why things didn’t work out—I kept thinking I had made mistakes in my choices—and truly, I could have done better by consulting God. But, now that I have a lot of years behind me and have been happily married for over a quarter of a century—I realize that a lot of my inability to find happiness was because of ‘me’. I still have a lot to learn, but one thing I have discovered is that in order to find true love—you have to be lovable.
I have so much admiration for people who found a mate, stayed with the marriage, worked through all of the challenges—and after all the years—still had a romantic interest in one another, but more importantly the unconditional, enduring love that grows with time.
In this world we have so much to overcome about the impression we may have of ‘what love is’ because of the images we are bombarded with on a daily basis. If our idea of love has been formed through what we have read in books, seen in magazines, on TV, in the movies, and music videos—we have a distorted picture, to say the least. It’s hard to find something real, when what you are looking for has been based on fantasy.
How can we ever expect that there is a person out there (or married to us) who will perfectly meet all of our needs—when we are so imperfect ourselves? Do we really think there is someone who will just adore everything about us if we are actually not very lovable?
I know I thought I was ‘in love’ quite a few times and yet those relationships failed. The Bible says, “love never fails”. Well, that’s pretty hard to swallow. Never fails? Is that possible?
The following is my own paraphrase of what the Bible says love ‘is’ in 1 Corinthians chapter thirteen:
Love is willing to wait—without complaining or pouting. Love speaks sweetly and does nice things for people—even if they don’t deserve it. Love doesn’t wish their mate were more perfect or try to get the attention of someone who doesn’t belong to them. Love doesn’t try to act like their way is the only way. Love isn’t stubborn about ‘who is right’—and is never unwilling to apologize. Love doesn’t mock another person’s weakness or do anything to defame or humiliate them. Love is always seeking to give pleasure rather than expecting to receive it. Love doesn’t get angry. Love keeps no record of other people’s failures and hardly notices when someone else does something wrong. Love does not enjoy doing things that are evil. Love is not eager to point out someone else’s flaws. Love rejoices in the Word of God and in seeking after truth. Love always sees the best in others and gives them the benefit of the doubt. Love is willing to take a risk in order to protect and defend someone in need. Love has a positive outlook. Love is willing to endure discomfort. Love never stops hoping the best things will happen for others. Love keeps trying against all odds and in spite of every temptation to stop. Love absolutely does not end.
Humans are not capable of being perfect at ‘love’. The only way ‘love’ can work—is if we constantly try to empty ourselves of ‘me’ and let God fill us with ‘Him’. God is perfect love. If we are filled with Him—we can love with His love and succeed.
Declaration: I will find new strength by letting go of ‘me’. As I become empty of myself and filled with the Holy Spirit of God—I will be lovable and able to love others more perfectly.
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