I believe with all of my heart that the greatest love story ever told is the one between God and man. It amazes me that an all-knowing, perfect God would go through such great lengths to be with me. God chose to look beyond my mess to see who I could become in Him. He endured the cross, even as I was unfaithful and lost in sin. In my own human strength, I could never imagine loving someone as unconditionally as God loves me. But God’s Word tells me that I can love others because God (who is love) lives in me.
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us. – 1 John 4:10-12 (NLT)
In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul gives us the most amazing definition of true love. It not only describes the love God has for us, but it also demonstrates how we are to show God’s love to others.
- Love rejoices in the truth rather than wrongdoing.
Our culture is obsessed with pointing out the flaws and mistakes of others. Reality television is the perfect example of this. Yes, we enjoy watching people succeed, but we also enjoy analyzing their mistakes and failures. Negativity and violence will sell far more newspapers than positive stories of people choosing righteousness over sin.
True love desires to see others treated fairly, and it desires to see them do the right thing. We are called as believers to rejoice in righteousness and truth, rather than sin and failure.
- Love bears all things.
In the original text, Paul uses the word stegō, which means “to protect or keep by covering, to preserve.” Another definition would be “to cover over with silence.” The story of Mary and Joseph comes to mind. When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, the Bible tells us that he decided to take care of the matter quietly. He had every right to make a public spectacle of her (and she most likely would have been stoned to death for adultery), but he instead chose to protect her. Now we know that Mary didn’t actually commit adultery, but Joseph truly believed that she had. She deserved to be publicly humiliated according to the laws of their day, but he chose to show her love and compassion instead.
True love protects others, even when they don’t deserve it. Love doesn’t gossip or parade the mistakes of others for the world to see.
- Love believes all things.
We have often heard the phrase, “If you believe, anything is possible.” I honestly know that to be true. It may sound completely cliché, but when we believe in ourselves (more importantly who we are in Christ) and have others who believe in us as well, we can do just about anything.
True love sees a person’s potential, rather than their current situation or limitations. When I look at my toddlers, I choose to see who they will become and all that they will accomplish rather than the screaming temper tantrum they are currently throwing. When God looks at us, He sees who we are in Christ. He sees all that He created us to be and who we will become in Him.
- Love endures all things.
This is possibly the most amazing aspect of true love. No matter what the circumstance, no matter what the mistake…it is unconditional and everlasting. God calls us to love one another with the same unconditional love that He has shown us.
True love is unshakable.
It endures to the end because it knows the ending to the story. As the bride of Christ, we will one day be with Him. And as the fairy tales say, we will be living happily ever after with our one true love for all of eternity.
Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? …No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:35, 37-39 (NLT)