There is a love that is bigger than flowers, chocolate, teddy bears, and balloons. The day Jesus went to the cross reminds us love is bigger than February 14th. Love is not a feeling; it is a choice. Feelings will sometimes lie to us. Emotions can confuse us. Love is expressed by actions and grounded in facts and truth. Love is spoken with real words. One does not fall into and out of love like it is a hole they didn’t see coming. We choose to love. It is a decision. Deciding to love like Christ loves reinforces and cultivates relationships deep – way beyond what the superficialities of cards and candies alone could never do.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 reminds us of about fifteen ways we are to display the love that is Christ. First, it says love is patient. Loving someone means they are worth the wait. To love patiently is to endure life’s struggles and do ones best to treat them with understanding. Second, it says love is kind. Love is not rude. It does not resort to calling names or throwing fits. Seeking to serve those you love by unselfish acts and words is characteristic of true love. Third, love does not envy. Love does not have to always have the spotlight, nor does it always have to be right. It rejoices when others excel. Love desires others to be blessed. Love is generous. Fourth, love does not boast. It is less concerned with self and more concerned with others. It does not always have to get its way. It does not draw attention to oneself but focuses on the other person. Fifth, love is not proud. Love is humble. It says its sorry. It admits wrong and is teachable.
Sixth, love is does not dishonor others. Love would never think of harming intentionally and steers away from anything remotely resembling unintentional hurt. It does not injure emotionally or physically. It does not gossip, backbite, or belittle. It only edifies and encourages. Seventh, love is not self-seeking. It does not think about one’s self first. It does not demand or steal attention. It gives sacrificially, intentionally, and freely. Eighth, love is not easily angered. It doesn’t twist words. It is not insecure. It is not always on edge. It gives the benefit of the doubt. Ninth, love does not keep a record of wrongs. It forgives. It does not let bitterness form. It does not use the past as a weapon. It realizes it is also not perfect and in need of forgiveness. Tenth, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always sides with the Scripture over every other voice. It values purity. It seeks holiness. It knows truth sets free and desires the Spirit’s conviction.
Eleventh, love always protects. It sets up safeguards. It defends. It does not allow evil to come close or stay long. Twelfth, it always trusts. It does not play private investigator. It does not automatically assume lies and deceit. It does not second guess. It does not presume the worst but expects the best. Thirteenth, love always hopes. It never gives up. It always has high expectations. It gives many chances for restoration. Fourteenth, love always perseveres. It sticks. It stays. It remembers its vows. It endures whatever comes. Its trustworthy. And last, love never fails. It never quits in any circumstance. Its dependable. It stands the test of time. Love wins out.
Truly, the only way we will ever know real love and how to properly extend it is by knowing Jesus (1 John 4:7). Jesus loved us first (1 John 4:19). God is love (1 John 4:8). The highest expression of love was Jesus’ sacrificial gift of forgiveness on the cross (1 John 4:9-10). It is only when we accept and experience His love for us that we can truly live out 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (1 John 4:11). It is also when we fall short in expressing His love correctly and consistently to others that we see just how perfect His love is toward us (1 John 4:15-18).
Stephen and his wife Haley have called Arkansas home all of their lives. Stephen has served in several ministry roles over the last 25 years and as a lead pastor for the last 8 years. Stephen attended Williams Baptist College and earned a BA in Biblical Studies from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA, MDiv, and DMin in Christian Leadership and Pastoral Ministries from Liberty University. When not pastoring, Stephen enjoys running, cycling, reading, writing, camping, fishing, and spending time with his family.