To Love Is To Act

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In our second (or possibly third) week of writing about Bible passages you know all too well, we’ll be walking through 1 Corinthians 13: 1-13, otherwise known as that thing they say at weddings.

1 Cor 13: 4-8 –  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

Ben TrubeThere’s nothing particularly wrong with thinking about love in this way, except Paul wasn’t really talking about marriage at all.

The Corinthians in general had a pride problem, they did things because it made them feel important, highly-valued in God’s eyes and in their community. Think status symbols. What Paul is essentially saying in verses 1-3 is that I can do as many good things as I like, but if I don’t do them out of love, then what good are they?

When Paul says love here, he’s not talking about the emotion, but rather the choice to love. Just think about the many meanings of the phrase “I love you”:

  • I am choosing to love you at this moment even though you are annoying me.
  • I am hanging up the phone now.
  • You’ve done something cute and ridiculous and it makes me smile.
  • I’m an idiot. Please love me back.
  • I don’t know what else to say.
  • I’m sorry.
  • Dinner was really tasty. I’m glad I didn’t have to make it.

I’m attracted to you and I’m in love with you are in there too, but chances are that isn’t what the phrase usually means.

Loving others is about not judging others. It’s about forgiveness. It’s about forbearance. And it’s about giving without giving an obligation. I do something nice for you, I help you out when you are in need not because I expect you to do the same for me, but because I love you and care about you.

That’s what Paul is trying to teach the Corinthians and it’s applicable not just in our married lives, but in all of our relationships with people.

In his sermon, Rich asked us to consider the question “Who am I withholding love from?” or “From whom are you withholding love?”.

I’m a pretty nice guy. I can come off as a bit of a grouch if you don’t know me very well, or you’re put off by beards. But I’m also kind of judgmental and a bit introverted.

My problem is I tend to make snap judgments of people, particularly if I don’t see something we have in common, and I tend to hold onto those judgments for far longer than I should. Sometimes I try to pass this off as “having a feeling about some people”, but really I’m set in my ways. It’s been proven to me on numerous occasions that not only am I wrong, but I’m missing out on a great friendship. Thankfully there are many people who are patient with me, but this is something I still need to work on as I meet new people.

Bottom line: Paul’s written some great poetry here, something that sounds good in romantic comedies and in front of our friends and love ones. But he’s trying to tell us something about more than just marriage, or love between too people. He’s trying to tell us how we should be with everybody, and how God is with us.

What about you?

  • From whom have you been withholding love?
  • What things do you mean when you say “I love you”?
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