FB conversion pixel

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day and 1st Corinthians


Down through the years, love has been defined is so many ways by a great many people.  Some of those definitions are very moving, some tear jerking, and, frankly, some just seem kind of sappy/stupid!   Scripturally, love was not merely defined, but demonstrated by the love of God for us who gave his Son Jesus upon a cross to die that we might be set free from sin and live in eternity with him. 

For Valentine’s Day, though, I’d like to remind you, no matter your station or situation in life, of what I think is the greatest explanation of love I have ever heard, and that is Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 13:4-6.  I am going to share it with some comment below (using the English Standard Version in bold).  As you read it, if you are divorced, it may help you understand how far your marriage had been from what love really is.  And for each of us, it serves as a reminder of how far we have yet to grow in our ability to love well, since, after all, Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a celebration of love.

Love is patient and kind;  Does that describe the relationship you had/have in your marriage?  How patient?  How kind?  Many divorced folks will quickly identify how these characteristics had long gone by the wayside in their marriage, a clear symptom that the marriage was not a marriage of love.  Maybe it never was.  If you aren’t married, it is certainly something to ask yourself before  you take any relationship to a serious level.  Patience and kindness are hallmarks of love.  Many of us settle for something far less.  How about with your children…does you patience wear thin far too quickly?  Are the words that come out of your mouth toward them kind words, or do they bear the brunt of the hardships in your life?  Sometimes I think just these two aspects of love alone, if actively implemented, could turn around even the most broken of marriages.

Love does not envy or boast; Some people are so about themselves, there is nothing else they will talk about.  They are unable to rejoice at anything good that another person experiences, instead being filled with jealousy or envy because they wish it was the good had happened to them instead.  In the relationships of your life, are the ones you love as concerned for you as for themselves?  Or better yet, more for you than for themselves?  Have you been too sure that nothing was your fault or responsibility, boasting of how good a job you had done, that all the problems were the fault of your spouse?

It is not arrogant or rude. In your marriage, did you feel an equal, or like your partner thinks themselves better than you?  Was basic common courtesy and decency long gone?  These days, rude is such a common characteristic that if you are polite or considerate to another person, they see that as odd!  In a marriage, consideration should be the hallmark, don’t you think?

It does not insist on its own way; If I could tell you all the couples that have been in my study for counseling whose core issue could have been solved by this simple phrase, you would be astounded.  Do you have to have your own way?  Honestly?  Did/does your spouse?  I have known many people beaten down in a marriage that by this one single measure was clearly NOT a marriage of love. 

It is not irritable or resentful;  At this point, I kind of wish the description of love had stopped a few phrases ago, because I am sometimes a person who gets irritated far too easily.  To the degree I do with my wife, that is the degree to which I am NOT acting from love.  And resentful?  Are there things you resent in your relationship?  Like that you have to do more than your share of the housework?  Or that the times you have tried to do something nice for your spouse, they were neither acknowledged nor appreciated?  You see, all of these characteristics are a two edged sword.  We may easily see how our ex or even our current spouse does not fit these criteria…but the challenge is, to see how we do as well.  Growth does not come by focusing on somebody else’s shortcomings, only our own.

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Sometimes it is too easy to point out the faults of others.  Those faults are always there, and if that is what you focus on, that is what you will find.  But it isn’t love if you do.  And how often do juicy bits of gossip cross your lips or ears?  Why do any of us delight in hearing those things?  Truth.  Ah, that is a challenge, isn’t it?  Could your relationship be described with the word true?  As in faithful, or as in honest?  Lots of married couples play lots of relationship games and live in webs of silly little lies, instead of dwelling in honesty and truth.  What deceptions have described your relationships? 

Love bears all things, Okay, so what are you willing to put up with?  What are the limits?  Do the words “all things” describe your answer?

Believes all things, Do the people you love know that you believe in them?  Have they believed in you?

Hopes all things, What are the limits at which you become hopeless?  What are the things you consider as impossible in your relationships?  Is your love lost because you no longer hope anything for the relationship?

Endures all things.  Too often today, nobody wants to endure anything.  If it gets hard, we quit.  We think it should just all come easy.  Some of the greatest love in marriage is never experienced because the couple weren't willing to endure.  They quit.  They gave up before the solution came.  Divorce is not how they gave up.  Divorce is actually the symptom of having already given up.  Sometimes it is one spouse, sometimes both, but the unwillingness to endure has shortchanged many people out of true love. 

It’s really quite a challenge, isn't it?  A lot more than candies with cute sayings on them, or red boxes filled with chocolate.  Love is a much more serious and challenging proposition.  Reading through those items, many would find that the marriage they lost did not even come close to an environment of real love.  Many will find that we have a long way to go, to be the kind of lover God desires us to be.  But, this Valentine’s Day, it could be a noble goal to choose this pattern as your aim.  Let’s review it one more time (or you may want to go back and reread the entire chapter in your own Bible).

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  ---1 Corinthians 13:4-6  ESV


No comments:

Post a Comment