What if I told you I could offer you a step-by-step guide to ensure your love never fails? Seriously, a sure way plan to make your love 100% bulletproof? Your marriage, your relationship with your children or dearest friend - you name it. I know it sounds like a bad infomercial, but it is true, and thankfully Paul has offered us the guide on how to love in such a way.
You have probably heard it at every wedding you have been to, and your mom most likely has it hanging somewhere in the house in that fancy script font. It is of course 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - arguably the most famous passage on love in the entire Bible.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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.”
It is such a familiar verse that gets thrown around and has seemingly lost its weight. We hear it growing up, preached on the weekends, and stamped on wedding cards, but I can not shake the thought that we have grown numb to it.
I was reading through this passage recently and was overcome by resentment. Like the crying and yelling at God combination that only happens on those impossible days.
You see, the last sentence stung when I read it. Love never fails. That statement felt so disingenuous and oblivious to all the love I have seen fall apart around me. And I know with certainty that you have either witnessed or experienced firsthand a time when “love” has failed.
When that parent abandoned their child.
When the wayward child turned their back on you.
When that closest friend broke their promise.
We have all seen “love” fall short in this life.
And like me, I am sure you desperately want the kind of love that never fails.
But then it hit me. My agonizing resentment quickly turned into a gracious revelation.
The answer to the love that never fails is found in the preceding verses.
So here is your roadmap to never lose sight of:
A love that never fails…
Does not envy.
Does not boast.
Is not proud.
Is not rude.
Is not self-seeking.
Is not easily angered.
Keeps no record of wrongs.
Does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
A love that strives to do each of these things each and every day, and repents and asks for forgiveness when it falls shorts, will never fail. We must never forget that God designed love and knows the context in which it thrives, and He has so graciously laid out this roadmap for us to imitate.
This passage shows us undoubtedly that genuine, biblical love is not something you fall into, but something you live out. It is not happenstance, it is a choice. It requires deliberate action each and every day. It is costly. It makes many sacrifices. It looks to the good of the other person. It demands much of you. It will change your life though and most certainly the lives of those around you, you need only to look to the cross of Jesus Christ.
This love described here in 1 Corinthians, the love referred to as “the most excellent way” by Paul earlier in the chapter, is the love Christ has for us. He is our ultimate example, hope, and source.
I feel like I would be doing you a disservice if I did not draw attention to the way this passage begins and ends. It is no coincidence that this passage is bookended with patience and perseverance. It is almost comical really. The act of love, the selfless and unconditional commitment for the ultimate good of others, is sandwiched between two virtues that demand steadfastness and capacity to play the long game. So do not be surprised when it gets difficult and laborious living out this genuine love, it is to be expected. Rather, practice patience and perseverance as you live out this most excellent way.
May we be a people that loves in such a Christlike way each and every day, all for His glory. Do so, and you will be a deep blessing and bright light to the world around you.