“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, hopes all things, endures all thing.” 1 Corinth. 4:13 (NIV)
Love is the greatest and strongest thing in our entire existence. So powerful that millions are born from it, people have died for it, people have killed for it, and people have sacrificed everything they’ve known searching for it. From the moment we are born, we are in pursuit of it. Most of the time, I feel as though we are only chasing imitations of it and have not experienced love the way it was originally meant to be experienced. Once we begin the search for its true meaning, we find ourselves asking the very question that countless others have asked: What is love?
The Bible tells us what love is and gives us many stories that display it. Most people know the Corinthians “love is” scriptures: It’s recited by adoring couples at almost every wedding, anniversaries etc. I feel like that is the only extent to which we take it, just reciting the words like we are reciting a school motto but is it really seeping through to our core? Are we being transformed by it? Are we willing to be changed and change everything for it?
Part of my prayer for the 2014 year was that I experienced or recognized what real love was. My prayer was recently answered but not as the result of another person like I expected. God does not always answer our prayers in the manner that WE would want or expect him to. His thoughts are not our thoughts. In having a conversation with a friend we began to talk about love and marriage. I told her that I did not believe a person could really love someone else until they loved God first. Her response surprised and confused me. She said, “No, we love because He first loved us.” I just smiled and nodded pretending that I understood what she meant. I did not ask and just kind of sat on it.
The Bible says, “But anyone who does not love does not know God because God IS love.” 1 John 4:8
I meditated on that for a while. GOD is love. I asked myself, “How could God BE love? He could display it but how could he BE love?” Then He dropped into my spirit that if it were not for God being who He is, Love would NOT even exist! One would not be without the other. So I went back to those verses in Corinthians and every place that I saw the word “love” I replaced it with “God.” The Corinthians verses that I had absentmindedly looked over several times finally began to make real sense. Here’s what it looked like to me now:
“GOD is patient, God is kind, God does not envy, God is not boastful, God does not dishonor others, God is not easily angered, God keeps no records of wrong. God always perseveres.” and so on. Cool, it looked different to me now but I still didn’t “get” it. A few months passed and I started back sliding. Circumstances began to pile up back to back, I felt myself moving further from His will slipping so much that it was embarrassing to even feel like I could claim being a Christian anymore. Why would he still want me? I was on the verge of losing it. But God! He began to shed light on the things I was trying to keep in the dark. The things no one had known I was dealing with; things that I was so foolishly trying to hide from even Him. I was so overwhelmed with how unworthy I was of Him. Then I stopped to look around– literally. I was walking in my calling, I was in my dream career, I had a successful year, came out victorious in some legal issues, overcame every obstacle that was thrown my way in the past few months, and it was A LOT! I was chosen to be in a rigorous program, received a raise, brand new car, money pouring in from all over, and so much more! I was down all this time because I didn’t feel loved–at least not the love I was needed anyway. I didn’t feel that love because I did not know how to recognize it. It’s like having a gift but not knowing its purpose so it does not mean anything to you. In that moment of me looking around, it hit me like a brick and caused me to fall to my knees in tears in an all-encompassing gratitude.
All those times I ran from God and to old habits, God was patient. Every time I said or did something that hurt someone else, God was kind. All the times I willingly disobeyed Him, He was not easily angered but corrected me. When I was embarrassed to go to His house and worship with His people because I was adding up all that I had done, although I had repented, He kept no record of my wrongs. He pursued me, He kept me, He trust that I would come back, He waited for me, He blessed me overwhelmingly with everything I needed and things I never imagined I could have and I deserved NONE of it. He was NOT selfish when I was. He kept his word: Not out of anything I did but simply because of who HE is, LOVE!
We cannot truly love until we grasp what it is. My friend’s word finally made sense. We are ABLE to love because God FIRST displayed His love for us! He showed us how. When you truly grasp that, you will begin to look at others, good or evil, with compassion and will extend that same love to them because you so desperately need it yourself!