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. -1 Corinthians 13: 4-8
A Family Devotion on 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Writer: Paul in AD 55
Context: Corinth was a large, sophisticated city, a seaport and trade center, and easily the most important city in the southern part of Greece. The fledgling Christian church there was made up almost entirely of Gentiles and had been established by Paul during his second missionary journey across the Mediterranean Sea. Its followers were struggling with their environment in that they were surrounded at every turn by corruption and every conceivable sin. They felt pressure to adapt but knew they were new creations in Christ Jesus. They wrestled with big questions of idolatry and sexuality, love and marriage, faith and hope. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians to answer some of their questions, address their problems, and heal the divisions that had formed among them. In his letter, he confronts them with the clear and simple gospel message and how it pertains to their sins, their need for correction, and their need for clear commitment to Christ.
Connect the Dots: This verse from 1 Corinthians was read at my wedding, as it is read at so many weddings across the United States and the world. Even for non-Christians, it represents all that is good and true about the love between a man and a woman. It’s an ideal that we can spend our entire lifetimes trying to reach.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. -John 13:34
But we, as believers, are called to something more than simple romantic love. We are called, in John 13:34, to love one another, especially other believers (but also non-believers) as Christ has loved us.
What did Christ do for us exactly?
He gave His entire life up for us in the ultimate act of generosity and kindness and love. He endured ridicule, mockery, abuse, and torture for us.
Christ’s love is an outward love, focused on others. It is utterly unselfish and the kind of love that goes against our natural inclinations. Who among us thought recently about giving up her life for someone else? No one I know, certainly not in my cushy middle class American life.
This kind of love is hard. It’s downright impossible unless you ask God to help you to set aside your own selfish desires so that you can love truly without expecting anything in return. The more you become like Christ, the more love you can show to others.
What does this kind of unselfish love look like?
- It looks like allowing another driver to cut in even though you’ve waited in a long line.
- It looks like taking a meal to a new mom or a grieving family.
- It looks like allowing your friend or sibling to go first or have the last cookie or the best seat.
- It looks like volunteering your time at a prison or homeless shelter without taking selfies or promoting your service.
- It looks like sponsoring children who otherwise would have no way to learn about Jesus.
- It looks like thinking about why a friend might be acting mean (maybe he or she is having a bad day) before getting upset.
- It looks like donating your stuff.
- It looks like giving up your seat on a bus or train.
This kind of love is not easy. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. It pushes us out of our comfort zones and into sacrifice and surrender and unselfishness.
For more ways that love can live in your life, visit Feels Like Home for a list of 60 Random Acts of Kindness for Kids and Grown Ups.
- Am I showing Christ’s kind of love to those in my home on a consistent basis? If not, how can I start?
- How can I show Christ’s love to people in my life?
- How can I show Christ’s love to strangers?
Pray: Dear sweet Jesus, Please forgive me for not loving others the way that you love me. Help me to be more like you. Help me to love people with my whole heart and without thinking of anything in return. Help me to show up and love even when it’s hard. Fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I can act like You would act in every situation. I know I will always fall short of your perfection, but help me to do better. In Your precious name, Amen