Several artists, musicians, and screenwriters have offered their take on the nature of love. But how does the Bible describe it? In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7(NLT) Paul writes this: ‘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.’ This is perhaps one of the most frequently read passages at weddings but it should ring true to everyone, not just to people getting married. Why? Because in this letter to a spiritually immature church, Paul is highlighting the fact that if the church at Corinth had this kind of love for one another they wouldn’t be squabbling and unwilling to settle disputes amongst themselves.
‘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.’- This means not snapping at someone when they’ve asked you to repeat something you’ve explained to them several times and not ridiculing them if they’ve made a mistake. I suppose this links back to the greatest commandment of them all which is to “Love your neighbor as yourself.”(Mark 12:31a) because if we truly loved in this manner, we wouldn’t treat our fellow humans in a manner contrary to how we would like to be treated.
‘It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.’- This reminds us of the fact that God wants our reactions to be in line with His character: He is passionate about justice.
As it says in Isaiah chapter 61:8-9~“For I, the Lord, love justice. I hate robbery and wrongdoing. I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering and make an everlasting covenant with them. Their descendants will be recognized and honored among the nations. Everyone will realise that they are a people the Lord has blessed.” The people of Israel have had a very turbulent history, from slavery in Egypt to near-annihilation by Adolf Hitler but in this verse, we are reminded that God will indeed show them justice for He says in Deuteronomy 32:35 ‘Vengeance is Mine,’.
‘Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.’- Our world is ever-changing but we are told to have a love for others that will endure through ‘every circumstance’. So that means loving people in the same way when you’re in low spirits as you would when you’re high-spirited.
However, this beautiful picture of love can only be a reality in a person’s interactions when they accept Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. When Jesus promised the Holy Spirit to his disciples, He said this: “If you love me, obey my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognise Him. But you know Him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you. No, I will not abandon you as orphans -I will come to you.”~John 14:15-18. The Father hasn’t challenged us to love in this way without giving us help to do so but has given us His Holy Spirit which not only helps us love in this way but supports us in every area of our life. After all, to love one another is not just a commandment (John 15:12) but love is the ‘greatest’ of the ‘three things’ (faith, hope, and love) that will ‘last forever’ (1 Corinthians 13:13).