"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." (1 Corin. 13:4-8, NIV84)I used to read these words and cringe because I couldn't live up to them. After doing some studying, I began to see these words as comforting. This love that is being described is not human love, as I had believed. This is God's love. This is the love that is poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. This is love that is supernatural and cannot come from any other source. I can tell when I am filled with the Holy Spirit when I start feeling this kind of love for others. I don't experience it often enough, but each time I do, it leaves me longing to always love in this way. Because this is how God loves me even though I don't deserve it. My human love often fails, but His love never does. Never means, "no, not ever"! God's love for me and you no, not ever fails. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be secure enough in God's love for us that we can love others as He loves us?
If I've learned anything after doing Bible studies, it's that we can pray for what we lack. These verses can easily be turned into a prayer--one that God will surely hear because it is from His Word: Lord, forgive me for boasting when I'm right and someone else is wrong because one day I may be found in the wrong. Forgive me for being rude, self-seeking, and easily angered because I've been on the receiving end, and I know how damaging these characteristics can be to the soul. Help me be more loving, forgiving, and kind. Help me not delight in evil but rejoice in Your truth. Help me remember that real love always protects and does not destroy; always hopes and does not take hope away, always perseveres even when love is not returned, always succeeds and never fails. Help me remember I can only access this love when I'm totally surrendered to You, trusting You to work everything out for good. In Jesus' precious Name. Amen.