It’s St. Valentine’s Day, so what better topic than love? In English that one word covers several of meanings : love between the members of a family, or between friends. The romantic iteration today has sent out tons of chocolates and thousands of red roses. And there’s a good reason why 1 Corinthians 13 is read at so many weddings—it perfectly sums up what love should be.
We might add from Peter, ever the pragmatist, who says Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
But more than earthly love, there’s the relationship between Christ and his Church. Too often circumstances change the duration and intensity of earthly love. “Though our feelings come and go, God’s love for us does not.” – C.S. Lewis
And likewise our love for God must be constant.
1 Cointhians says that love is patient. Even when there are dark times when it seems our faith is tested and God has hidden himself from us, we must love—steadfastly and patiently. Think of the years that Mother Theresa felt that God had turned away from her. Love knows how to wait.
Love is Kind: Ephesians 4:32 says Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. We look back on our lives and see highlighted the little acts of thoughtfulness, of kindness given to us. How often have we been that light of love to others?
Love doesn’t envy: Proverbs doesn’t beat about the bush on this one. A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot.
Love doesn’t boast: Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 2:3) Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Or as my mum put it: Don’t blow your own horn!
And related to that: love isn’t proud: (Romans 12:16) tells us to live in harmony with one another.
Love speaks with a soft voice and is slow to anger: A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) and again in Ecclesiastes 7:9 Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the heart of fools. Evening prayer is such a good time to empty out all the angers and frustrations of the day, to give them up to God.
Love keeps no records of wrongs, but forgives and doesn’t bear grudges. (Luke 6:27) Jesus himself said Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Mother Theresa again If you judge people, you have no time to love them.
Love helps carry the burdens of others. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 Don’t wait to be asked. Love will make you aware of the needs of others.
Such a long list and a daunting one—yet this is the kind of love with which Christ loves us. Remember he loved us enough to die for us whilst we were still sinners. God doesn't expect us to love perfectly--but he does expect us to try.
As we read read from Corinthians:So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.