Hi, this is pastor Ken, thanks for joining me for another Monday Marriage Message. This week we are finishing up with our study of the attributes of love according to 1 Corinthians 13. The final attribute of love as found there in verse 8 is this…Love never fails.
This verse goes on to mention some other very important activities and implies that they all have an endpoint or limitations. I believe this to be written in contrast to love. These things can fail, or in other words not withstand the tests of time, but love, real love, perfected love…never fails.
Never fails how? It never fails to continue to contain all of the attributes we have investigated over the past several episodes of this podcast. If you will allow me I would like to offer, based on the study we have been engaged in to write an expanded version of 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
Love is patient. [When love is hurt or mistreated it refuses to retaliate even if everyone looking at the situation would understand if it did. Love will only display anger as the Lord directs, and otherwise will show incredible patience and even refrain from reacting negatively on the inside. Love never fails to be patient with the one being shown love.]
Love is kind. [Love has a charitable nature to it. Real love is sympathetic to the needs of others above self and desires to meet those needs whenever possible. Love does not do this to be recognized but rather to be useful. Love never fails to be kind toward the one being loved.]
Love does not envy. [Love does not react negatively because it is not being treated as it perceives it deserves to or because it sees someone else getting something it is not receiving. Aside from a lack of faithfulness love does not allow anger to be the result of jealousy. Love never fails to avoid being envious.]
Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up. [Love does not point out all of the things it does for the one it says it loves. It does not make a show of ‘loving action’ or deeds so that it will be recognized. It does not require another to make a big deal of thankfulness and make that a condition of future loving action or threaten to withhold love if it is not properly compensated with appreciation. Love never fails to be humble.]
Love does not behave rudely. [Love does not act in ways that are improper or dishonorable. Love is never unseemly or indecent. Love is never coarse or vulgar. Love is careful with the one being loved regardless of whether the other is present or not. Love never fails to lift up another and never tears another down…not even in jest.]
Love does not seek its own. [love is not selfish. Love does not seek to further its own interests with no regard to others. Love actually looks for opportunities to further the interests of others even if it means doing so to the detriment of its own interest. Love understands that caring for others first is in its own best interest. Love never fails to put others above self and choose all of its words and actions from a position of selflessness.]
Love is not easily provoked, thinks no evil. [Real love does not easily become angry when it feels it is being mistreated. It does not decide that the only logical conclusion is that the perceived mistreatment has come from a bad or evil motive on the part of another. True love will instead attempt to interpret the words or actions of another as if they have come from a good and generous motivation. Love will choose to allow for some other explanation other than that its counterpart is simply mean. Love never fails to give the benefit of the doubt to another.]
Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth. [Because love desires to experience the grace and favor of God it adheres to His standards and righteous judgements. Love never fails to look to God’s word to determine how to interact with one another. It always understands that God’s precepts are best regardless of worldly wisdom or personal experience. Love does not fail to follow God’s precepts.]
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. [Love protects and upholds another…all the time, it never fails to do this. Love knows what is best for the relationship according to God’s instruction and encourages the other to join them in following those precepts. It believes that the other also wants what is best regardless of the current circumstances. Love holds to the hope that as God’s laws for love are going to correct past and present missteps in the relationship. Perfected love calmly and steadfastly stands behind another while the imperfections are worked out both in self and in the one being loved. It understands and allows for the fact that there is more that could be done on both sides. Love never fails to uphold another understanding that it will likely have to lower self to elevate the one being loved.]
Love never fails. [Agape love never fails to do any of these things. Love is an absolute not an average. One cannot say that because they are loving in the ways above that they understand, they are completely loving. One cannot say that if they are illustrating the actions and attributes above that are being shown to them, they are loving as they should. Love is all of the above and is not complete if some of the above…even one seemingly small thing listed is not present.]
So should we just recognize it is impossible to be all of these things all of the time and just give up on love? No. Should we then simply try to redefine love? Absolutely not! Attempting to redefine love or its parameters is what has caused so much difficulty for us in relationships to this point. God is love…let’s let the author of it tell us what it looks like. So what then? Why a seemingly impossible list of characteristics to a thing we are commanded to do? First reason, so we can have some understanding of the immensity and intensity of the Love God has for each and every one of us. Second reason, in my estimation it is an impossible list so that as imperfect human beings we have an understanding that when we feel someone is failing us, the same light we hold them up to, shows us to also fail them. It almost requires that we place ourselves in the same standing with one another and recognize God needs more from both of us, and will until we see Him face to face and are finally like Him…perfectly loving!
Questions to answer:
Which of the attributes listed above are you doing well illustrating?
Which do you see your spouse demonstrate well?
Which do you still have difficulty with?
Actions to take:
Ask God to give you a real desire to learn to love in the ways He wants you to as we have discovered in this study. Especially the ones that are difficult for you.
If possible, decide why those difficult attributes are troublesome for you. Determine if there are events or experiences in your life that attempt to convince you that God’s definition of love is not wise for you to accept, and seek His help in choosing to display love His way.
So now, with a greater understanding of the kind of Love God wants you to show others, just do it…and Go Be Awesome!