I love this passage in scripture. It really is one of my favorites. I have put a great deal of thought and time meditating on it. When you just glance over it quickly on your way to day 365 of your bible reading guide it is very easy to miss the depth and importance of this text.
In Luke 10:27, when asked what the greatest command of all was, Jesus said, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” For a long time I wondered what that was supposed to look like. I am still not entirely sure what it means to love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind – but I think I am getting closer to understanding what it means to love my neighbor.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 we are given a very clear, uncomplicated description of what love is –
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”
When I look at that list I see a mirror held up to my face. I am not saying that I see all those things in me – quite the opposite – I mean when I read those verses I see clearly into my heart and all the areas I fall short on love. I am not even fully able to love myself!! I am rude to myself, I irritate myself, I keep record of every wrong I do, I give up on myself, I lose faith in myself, I doubt myself and sometimes the only reason I endure myself is simply because I can’t seem to get away from myself!! 😉
This is supposed to be the greatest command of the Lord and I haven’t done a very good job of keeping it even just with myself. >.< I can’t be too hard on myself though. I really have made an effort as of late to hold this standard of love up against my friendships and family relationships and tried to make them match. I can honestly say I “1 Corinthians 13:4-7” about 4 of my non-relative friends nearly 100% and a good majority of the rest in the 75-90% range. (If you are reading this then you are at least in the 90% range I am sure~ 😉 )There are a few that rank a little lower but I am starting to see now that the problem isn’t with them needing to change – the problem is me not holding up my end of the deal. It is my job to “1 Corinthians 13:4-7” all of my family, friends, neighbors and *gulp* even my ex-husband and that chick from 3 grade who called me fat and poor -.- sigh. Because the truth is that even if someone (even someone you thought loved you) is treating you in a way contrary to that kind of love – it is still commanded of us that we love them the right way in return.
The beauty of it is that if we love them the way we are supposed to and they are the right type of friend – the kind that really does want to change or really does want to be a part of our lives – they will start to reflect that love back to us and the friendship will be healed. It might take time but it will happen!
On the other hand it works out just as wonderfully if they really are an awful person because if we love them the right way and they are not the right type of friend – they are bitter and hateful and have no desire to change – they will see the love you are showing them as a contrast to themselves and it will be like a mirror showing them the ugliness they hold inside and it will cause them to flee from you – which in that case is exactly what you want anyway! 😉
This love business is tough! There are days when I don’t meet all the qualifications of love with my own daughter!! Now I know that I haven’t actually stopped loving her – I just don’t always do a very good job of it.
There are some days where I have lost my patience with Lambchop (one of my dearest friends who happens to be one of the 4 people I find it easiest to love) and days where I have been jealous of her and days where she has hurt me and it took me a few hours to forgive and let go…but despite all that I am always able to bounce back to that place of love.
I think that is what true friendship is. When two or more people are able to give and receive grace when they screw it up but are constantly working towards being able to say “We ‘1 Cor 13:4-7’ each other 100%.” 🙂
So, I send out a couple of questions today for anyone who reads this post to ponder –
How many people do you 1 Corinthians 13:4-7?
How many people do you think 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 you?
After spending time soaking in this passage I have come to appreciate the heaviness of the word “love”. It used to be so trivial and I could toss it around everywhere just like I saw everyone else doing. Now though I choose carefully who I declare my love for. I don’t tell ANYONE I love them unless I can look at that list and honestly say that I meet at least the majority of those requirements and then I try to work on that ones I don’t.
I challenge you to start doing the same. Don’t run around telling all your friends and family you don’t actually love them! But do start making changes in your own heart so that you really do. ❤