Love Defined (Part 3 Back to the Word on Marriage)
As I’ve pondered the third article for the Back to the Word on Marriage I have to be honest, nothing has really leapt to my mind.
So my original intent to write “Flippant Society Examined” has been scrapped. For truly, one doesn’t have to look far to see the hurt, the brokenness and the pain in a society that shakes its fist at God and His ways when it comes to marriage.
You see, it is so easy for me to get my eyes fixed on the problem, rather than fix my eyes on my Savior. The moment I get my eyes fixed on the problem, well, I tend to go under.
So with eyes re-fixed upon the Savior, I have been led to write about biblical love instead. For truly, if we would love as Christ loves, it would turn this world upside down.
It is high time we define the word “love.”
If you flip to a modern dictionary, you will find something like this - an intense feeling of deep affection; a deep romantic attachment to someone.
This, my dear friends, is why our culture is in such shambles regarding marriage.
Why? Those definitions are very light and flippant.
If love is based on feelings, it will not last.
So let’s dive into the Word and get a definition on love and how God has designed it to be in marriage and in all of life for that matter.
What better place to look than a passage that has been referred to as the love chapter?
I know I’ve read this chapter many times in the course of my life, but today, instead of blitzing through it, nodding our heads and saying what a wonderful chapter it is, let’s pause and take the time to let the words of this passage truly sink in.
Let us start in verse 4 of 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love is patient…”
Defined - “‘Patience’ implies suffering, enduring or waiting, as a determination of the will and not simply under necessity. Long-suffering is attributed to God of His bearing long with sinners and slowness to execute judgment on them. It is, therefore, one of ‘the fruits of the Spirit’ in believers, which Christians are frequently exhorted to cherish and show one toward the other.” “Patience is the capacity to be wronged and not retaliate.”
“…and is kind.”
Defined - The word kind is closely connected to lovingkindness and mercy. Lovingkindness can be defined as tenderness and consideration toward others. Mercy is extending goodness & forgiveness to someone when they don’t deserve it.
“Love doesn’t envy.”
Defined - The word envy is another word for covetousness, a selfish desire for something which someone does not have.
“Love doesn’t brag…”
Defined - A “look at me” mentality, instead of a humble, servant nature that Christ has called us to as believers. Bragging is an arrogant inflation of self in one’s accomplishments. It is a self display, employing rhetorical embellishments in extolling one's self excessively.
“…is not proud.”
Defined - Proud is another word for pride. Pride is a sin and a hindrance to seeking God. Other translations render the word proud as “puffed up.” It is an inflation of self, rather than glorifying God.
“Doesn’t behave itself inappropriately.”
Defined - The idea is to behave in a way that is unseemly, to behave in a way contrary to that which Christ has called believers to conduct themselves.
“Doesn’t seek its own way.”
Defined - The idea is literally what the text says, to seek after one’s own way, as if on a hunt or a hike for self. It is choosing to seek one’s own interests and desires rather than the best interests of others. It is the antithesis of what Jesus has called us to as believers in Philippians 2 of rendering others as better than ourselves and their interests as more important than our own.
“…is not provoked.”
Defined - Another word for anger. In other words, love is slow to anger.
“…takes no account of evil.”
Defined - Other translations render this as “it keeps no record of wrongs.” In other words, love is quick to forgive and does not keep a tally of wrongs committed. Like Jesus commanded His disciples, you are to forgive 7x70. In other words, you forgive and forget.
“…Doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness.”
Defined - Love doesn’t delight in evil. Love finds no pleasure in sin and wrongdoing.
“…but rejoices with the truth.”
Defined - Love delights in that which is good, right, pure and wholesome.
“…bears all things.”
Defined - “To protect, or preserve by covering," hence means "to keep off something which threatens, to bear up against, to hold out against, and so to endure, bear, forbear.” The idea of supporting what is placed upon a thing is prominent in 1 Corinthians 13:7. (Wow, that is a lot of depth in that simple phrase and strikes me as precious. Definitely a part of love we’ve lost in today’s culture.)
“…believes all things.”
Defined - "To believe," also "to be persuaded of," and hence, "to place confidence in, to trust," signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere credence. It is used in an ethical sense, of confidence in the goodness of another.
“…hopes all things.”
Defined - Hopefully to trust in.
“…and endures all things.”
Defined - Patient, long-suffering, remains stedfast in the face of unpleasant circumstances.
“Love never fails.”
Defined - Pretty self-explanatory, it lasts, it doesn’t fade away with time. It never fails, never. Love will never come to an end. And as a last note on this passage, the word “love” is the Greek word “agape,” which is defined as unconditional love.
Ok, my head is spinning from the depth of the word love, and we simply looked at ONE passage in God’s Word regarding this word! Wow.
To make it even more head-spinning, this isn’t a marriage passage, this is a Christian passage. This is how I am called to love, everyone. Yeah, everyone.
I can’t help but notice, the three favorite words of sinful mankind aren’t contained in this passage. “Me, myself and I” make no appearance. The subtle references to them are references that denounce them as counterfeits to real and biblical love.
I reiterate once again, biblical love has no concern for self. NONE!
The deeper I get into this series, the more I’m awed by the depth and profoundness of the love of God and the love He has called us as believers to exhibit in our marriages.
For truly, this love is 110% contrary to who I am naturally. This is a love that only Christ and His power can produce in me. This is a love that only the Holy Spirit can work in my heart. This is a love that is impossible by my own willpower, but possible when the King of kings and His power become what I am relying upon.
How would our marriages, our friendships, our culture, our world be changed if we as believers fully took up the mantle of biblical love?
Truly, the ripple effects are something we cannot imagine, for the results would be astronomical.
1 Corinthians 13 kinda makes you think of the word love in a whole new light, doesn’t it? I know it has done that for me and I'm desperately aware of my need for the King & His power if I am going to love this way.
May we rely on our King to love and may His name alone be glorified!
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also love one another.” - John 13:34
Next post - Selfless Love