You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a
I have always read this passage with loving other people in my mind. “This is how I should love my family and friends” type of thing. As we read this passage in church this past Sunday it suddenly struck me that, first and foremost, this is how I should love God. Honestly, I was stunned. How could I miss this? Easily the most popular passage on love, I’ve heard it many, many times (understatement). Am I the only one to have completely failed to see that?
With this ‘new’ application, I found the passage newly exciting and beautiful. A few things really drew my attention:
Love does not parade itself and is not puffed up. If I love the Lord, I will seek to give honor and glory to Him. I won’t do things to get attention for myself. I won’t have an inflated opinion of my person or talents. Humility. After all, what is the source of my talents?
Love does not seek its own. Selfishness. Ouch. How many times a day – an hour- do I seek things for my own pleasure? I am so focused on my agenda, my desires, my ideas that I forget to seek the Lord. Seek first the kingdom of God.
Love believes the best and hopes in all things. This is perhaps the specific area of love that is hardest – Trust. Hope. Elisabeth Elliot put it beautifully: “God never witholds from His child that which His love and wisdom call good. God’s refusals are always merciful — “severe mercies” at times but mercies all the same. God never denies us our heart’s desire except to give us something better.” Also, “The sovereignty of God is often questioned because man does not understand what God is doing. Because He does not act as we think He should, we conclude He cannot act as we think He would.”
Though there are numerous other applications of this passage, these were a few that were a blessing to me.
One other thing struck me this past Sunday at church; Have other loves grown fairer than Christ?
As we seek to love the Lord as He has called us, that love will naturally flow to those around us. However, without loving the Lord, we can never hope to truly love those whom God has placed in our lives. Most of what I wrote would apply to our relationships to family and friends as well, but the heart of the story?
Love Him more.
My song is love unknown,
My Saviour’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I, that for my sake
My Lord should take frail flesh and die?
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine;
Never was love, dear King!
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my Friend, in Whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend.