“Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
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.
Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge
will become useless.
But love will last forever!
Three things will last forever –
faith, hope, and love-
and the greatest of these is love.”
-1 Corinthians 13:4-8, 13
I have fallen in love numerous times.
First, there was Chris, in the 2nd grade. He was a real cutie and helped me produce a play that I wrote about Martians visiting McDonald’s. It was a smashing success. Next came Steve. He was a toe-head. We played a lot of dodgeball and four-square during recess together. Then there was Bobby, Jason, Danny, Mike, JJ, Ben, Brad, Dean… you get the point.
I fell in love a lot.
If you’re new to this blog, you may not recognize that none of the above-mentioned names is that of my husband, Matt.
I fell in love with him, too.
It was all so accidental. It just seemed to happen, this constant falling in love. Some said I was boy-crazy. Maybe. Probably. But I never meant to be. I didn’t look for love, it just had a habit of whacking me upside the head and there I’d go, tripping and falling right into it.
It wasn’t until Matt came into my orbit that I began to understand that all those other times, maybe couldn’t be called love. Sure the feelings were intense and sometimes even lasted years, but there was a distinct difference that I could see nearly right away.
For the first time in my young life, I actually cared about another person as much, if not more, than I cared about myself. I wanted to see Matt succeed. I wanted to help him reach his goals and achieve his dreams. I wanted to be an active part of making his life better.
Granted, I was a dumb teenager who didn’t know how to go about any of that, so most of what I tried still had the stink of selfishness on it, but my intentions were (mostly) pure. I wasn’t only worried about how happy he could make me. I wanted to reciprocate and give back to him because I…I loved him.
My love for Matt was and continues to fail on a regular basis. I am often impatient. Sometimes I’m (gulp!) unkind. I am highly irritable. (Please tell me I’m not alone?) My love is 100% imperfect 100% of the time. I never get it right. If I even start to, I am quick to boast of how well I am loving and well….there ya go. It’s blown.
The fact is, in our broken humanity we will never get it right. Books have been written on the subjects of loving our spouse, our children, our co-workers, our neighbors, our church body, our communities, and even our enemies. We continue to seek The Solution as we strive to imperfectly love imperfect people. There isn’t one.
Or rather, there is, but it has nothing to do with what we’re capable of alone.
The Solution – what perfect love looks like – is Jesus Christ. He alone has fulfilled the very definition of love. He alone has the ability to love perfectly because He lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death and then defeated it.
He can love because He is love.
We can only hint at perfect love when we have Christ in us. Apart from Him, our ability to love is nothing more than a noisy windchime, being tossed about by the storms of life.
We have a God who loves us beyond all measure. How can we know that? Because He loved us so much, He sacrificed everything in order to be in a relationship with us. Look at John 3:16 with fresh eyes. Say it out loud slowly:
“For this is how God loved the world:
He gave his one and only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him
will not perish but have eternal life.”
– John 3:16 (NLT)
That is perfect love. From a perfect God. And Jesus came to this earth to manifest that love in every tangible way.
Despite our best human efforts, we will never love anyone perfectly this side of Heaven. But with Christ in us, we can be emboldened to love freely, graciously, and extravagantly, in spite of those around us, not being swayed by our fickle emotions but standing firm in our choice to be obedient and answer the call to love God and love people.
Now go. Tell someone you love them. And mean it.