Day 11: We Think Love is Cheap
Read: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
I don’t have many regrets in my life, but one of my biggest is how terrible of a friend I was in high school. My outlook on friendship was very one sided. I thought I was too good for conflict, so the moment any friction cropped up I found it easier to ditch than to work through the issue. Love felt disposable, so I hardly felt any remorse in dropping friends who ceased to be a safe, easy place to be. After all, my thinking went, there were always other friends to be had.
Our world is filled with this kind of cheap love. So many of us believe love is a disposable commodity to be used for our enjoyment like a stick of gum, and spat out once the flavor’s gone. Even in cases less severe than mine, it’s common knowledge that relationships are based on reciprocation. Friendship love is an exchange; they put something in, you put something in. Your love should match the amount of love they put into the relationship, and seldom if ever any more than that. In 1 Corinthians 13, however, Paul gives multiple characteristics of what real love looks like, and it hardly makes any sense to our experiential understanding of love in real life.
The context of this passage is Paul exhorting the followers of Jesus at Corinth about the gifts of the Spirit, which appears to be a hot-topic for the young church. Paul makes it clear to them that, although Spiritual gifts are given to individuals, they are given for the good of the community in love (12:7), and by participating with the Spirit they themselves are made into the body of Christ, even though they stay individuals (12:27). Paul tells them to seriously desire the gifts of the Spirit, but not to leave out the main ingredient—that is love.
It’s here we read the famous monologue about love, in the context of life in the dynamic and diverse body of Christ. It’s in the center of chapter 13 we’re told that, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (v. 7). When we see these characteristics as being reflective of Jesus’ kind of love in the members of the body of Christ, this verse comes alive with meaning. Interestingly, the Greek word for bear is derived from the word that means roof, as in to endure and hold. Just as a roof holds amidst rain and debris, our love should remain steady and endure through trails. Just like Jesus’ love of the believer remains constant, so we ought to reflect that kind of love to our brothers and sisters (John 10:11).
Love hopes all things, not in any delusional or self-deceiving way, but with hope like Jesus. He was often frustrated with His disciples, but never lost hope in them. We reflect this as members of the body by choosing to see the best in our brothers and sisters, trusting God to bring His work to completion where they fall short (Phil. 1:6), and to trust they will also give you the benefit of the doubt.
Love endures all things, remaining committed to seeing the other through. While certain relationships may only last for a season, this truth attacks our selfish belief that we don’t need to stay committed to loving our brother or sister. When times get hard, when we feel slighted, or just when we don’t feel friendly, we’re never entitled to ditch. We as Christians are called to love others around us because it was God who first showed pursuing consistent love to us (Heb. 13:5; 1 Jhn. 4:19).
For me, It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that these words finally clicked. As new creations in Christ, love takes on a very unusual form, but I have never known more fulfilling love than loving through Christ. Praise God I have learned to embrace the sweet gift of being someone’s committed friend in Christ. I have learned that disagreements and hurt feelings are bound to come, but even then the joy of love outweighs the discomfort. It’s more than worth my while to work towards resolution—because love endures all things. The girls I met from freshman year are still some of my best friends, and I’m beyond grateful for the lessons they’ve taught me about Christ-like love.
Write out a list of your relationships, whether friends, family, work, or significant other. Pray and ask God to humble you, and write how you will practically commit to blessing these people like Christ has blessed you in love.
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