“[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:7
Read this verse over and over. What is God whispering to you?
Love seems to be the theme recently. These verses just seem to jump off the page and grab me. First Corinthians chapter thirteen is a beautiful description of Love. The Greek word is agape (ag-ah-pay). It is plural. In other words, it is a Love feast. This is the kind of love that God has toward us and it is the love that God is calling us to.
This morning we are focused on verse seven. “Love always protects…” If we dig deeper, we see other words that could be used: bears or suffers. The Greek word is stego. It means to roof over, cover in silence, endure patiently. It doesn’t necessarily mean we protect the one we love as much as we protect the love we have for them. In other words, we protect the relationship of love. How do we protect the relationship of love?
We protect our relationships with mercy and Grace. We forgive easily, in fact we overlook the faults of those we love. That is what unconditional love is. It is a love without reason. We love not because of what people do for us but because God so loved us. This is a hard love. We learn from a very young age that we only trust those who do good to us. We stay away and even withhold our love and respect for those who are bad, but that isn’t what Paul is saying in this verse. He is describing the kind of love we should show everyone, not just our family and friends.
He continues “…always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” Unconditional love has no parameters around it. We trust even if the person isn’t trust worthy. To do that we have to hope that they will get better. We believe that they will get better. That trust and hope will help us persevere in that love relationship.
First Corinthians chapter thirteen is often used for weddings. That is great, but this love is more than the love we have for our spouse. It is the love we are to have toward everyone. In fact, this kind of love is so important that Paul states in verse 13: “and now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” I want to clarify faith. The word used is more specifically truth, often used to describe the Gospel. In other words, it isn’t just any faith, it is faith in the truth, the Gospel. Paul is saying in this last verse that everything else will fail but these three will remain and Love is the greatest of all. It is greater than hope. It is greater than truth. It is greater than our Salvation because our salvation flows from God’s love for us.
Why is this important? It is important because “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” If Jesus didn’t come to condemn, why do we think we should? No, God so loved us, so that we can so love the world too. This means God’s love should flow through us and spill all over everyone around us. If it doesn’t there is a problem.
Now we see the reason for the problems of this world. God’s love isn’t flowing through us. We are selfishly withholding it. A stopped-up jar can’t over flow, but it can’t be replenished either. Love is living. If we stop it up it can’t breathe and slowly dies. We must let it flow. Are you letting God’s love flow?