“Love covers a multitude of sins.” -1 Peter 4:8b
“Simply put: love does.” -Bob Goff
Last week I had an encounter with someone I love, however my interaction with her did not exhibit love. How could this be? If we love someone then our actions will always demonstrate love, right? Not so. Our imperfect nature renders us incapable of such a virtue practiced with absolute consistency. We are like sheep, and sheep tend to go astray. We frequently blow it, especially with those we love.
The Apostle Paul gives us one of the most beautiful passages about love in all of the Bible in his first letter to the Christ followers of Corinth. It’s a passage almost everyone is familiar with, even those who don’t know much Bible. Paul’s “love passage” has a way of showing up in almost all Christian wedding ceremonies. It’s the perfect description of love:
“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 Cor 13:4-8a).”
Paul said love is not easily angered, but I sure am. My anger, which I felt was justified by my beloved, yet not entitled to, didn’t look anything like love. It simply looked like what it was; anger. She had disappointed me. She had rejected my wisdom and my concern for her well-being. Rather than responding in love though, I got angry. I had a cure (my advice) for what was ailing her, but she would not listen.
Love is patient, but I’m not.
A few hours after I made this misstep with my loved one, and as regret was setting in, I had the presence of mind to pick up my Bible and turn to Paul’s “love passage” to see just where I went wrong. What I found was something I had not noticed before. Specifically, the passage is divided into four characteristics of love: 1) what it is, 2) what it’s not, 3) what it does, and 4) what it doesn’t do.
As I stated earlier, I can’t be what love is because God is love, and I’m not Him. But I can strive to do what love does. According to Paul, love; protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres. If I can just focus on trusting, hoping, and persevering – especially hoping and persevering – I believe patience and kindness will follow and help root out the envy, boasting, pride, dishonor, self-promotion, anger, record keeping of wrongdoing, and the desire for evil things that creep into my being. Jesus said as much by telling us that if we focus on the right things, all the other things will fall into place.
Should I be any different with the ones I love than God is with me? When I do wrong He is patient with me and not easily angered. He doesn’t hold it against me by keeping records of my wrongs. And even when I’m wrong, He continues to protect me. He trusts me by giving me free will. He always hopes for me and perseveres on my behalf, and He never fails. Shouldn’t I do the same for the ones I love? Shouldn’t you?
Love is either displayed or displaced in our response to those we love. We can’t be love, but we can do love. May we be found doing love by protecting and trusting those we love while we hope and persevere on their behalf, just as our Savior does for us.