Ted Ancelet, National Director of Spiritual Empowerment
1 Corinthians 13:4–8a (ESV) Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.
We started our Year of the Bible devotional journey with Mark 12:30–31 (CLICK HERE to read our first entry): “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.
Love is the common denominator in how we relate—to God, to others, or to ourselves. As followers of Christ, love is our trademark.
Love is a tricky word. It’s most often understood as an intense feeling of deep affection. Biblically, love has a much deeper and richer meaning; it transcends a feeling or emotion. This is what we see in 1 Corinthians 13. Paul tells us that love isn’t merely a feeling but a way of relating to others.
While most of us are fairly familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, slowing down to read it empowers us to enjoy subtle beauties we may otherwise miss. In this timeless passage on love, Paul uses poetic symmetry to deepen his point. He lists eight things love embraces and eight things love resists.
In these verses, Paul instructs us about what we need to hold close and what we need to let go. He empowers us with a framework to respond to any situation in love. Sometimes we will need to do things that are out of our comfort zone; sometimes we will need to not do things that feel natural to us. In both situations, love empowers us to respond beyond our feelings so we may impart life to others.
We can begin by putting these into practice with those closest to us, our family. Although as Christians, we don’t stop there. As outlined in 1 Corinthians, we’re called to love everyone God brings into our lives. As I write this, we’re experiencing extremely anxious and unsetting times as a deadly virus spreads throughout the world. It’s easy for fear to take hold and control our thoughts, emotions, and actions. The good news of the Gospel is that we have a remedy for fear—courageous love (1 John 4:18). We have experienced this love personally, and now we have the opportunity to share it with others.
So how can we live this out?
When quarantines are lifted, and people are able to resume typical schedules, many people are going to need help. When a family is in crisis, kids can become vulnerable to neglect and, unfortunately, abuse. At Bethany we believe no family should experience this. Through the Safe Families for Children ministry, volunteer Host Families offer loving care to parents, watching over their children and providing compassionate community to their entire family while parents regain stability. Our Host Families demonstrate the courageous love of Jesus to families in their moment of need. CLICK HERE to learn more about becoming a Host Family.
Choose one item from each list above (embrace and resist) and make a plan to put it into practice. What actions can you take to love those closest to you? How can you love your neighbor by practicing these responses?
Father, thank You for the courageous love You’ve expressed to me through Christ. Thank You for the patience, kindness, and perseverance You embrace me with each day. As I celebrate Your goodness in my life, I pray You would also use me as an instrument of goodness in the lives of others. Open my heart and mind to ways I can demonstrate the love and compassion of Christ to those nearby, in my community, and around the world. Amen.