I Corinthians 13:8 begins with—Love never fails.
As defined in this same chapter love is:
Patient, kind, not jealous, does not brag, is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account wrongs suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, endures all things, love never fails…
Clearly my love fails. Just this morning, walking with a friend, I was jealous and spoke without discretion which to me is the same as acting unbecomingly. I want to communicate the love of Jesus to this friend, but I fear my love failed. It failed to rejoice in the truth, because no truth was mentioned, it failed to believe all things, because I failed to believe God could speak to the heart of my friend. My love failed because I was more concerned with being accepted than honoring my God. How ashamed I come away feeling after I fail so miserably.
God is not speaking about my love in His definition, it most truly is His love He describes. I do rejoice in the knowledge I cannot be separated from His love, even when I behave so disappointingly. I bow my head, confess my failure, and wait as His love cleanses me of all unrighteousness. Oh, that there is such a God! He has freed me and given my joy wings! What holds me back?
The love of God saved me from despair, anger and rejection. He speaks words of acceptance, forgiveness and love to my desperate heart. His love blesses me with every good gift. I see how His great love has covered my sin—my deceitful heart, my ungrateful attitudes, my critical nature. I look back over 40 plus years and His love has never failed me. He has repeatedly saved me, healed me, spared me, comforted me, guided me, and rebuked me all for the purpose of making me more like Himself.
This kind of love everyone seeks and rejects at the same time. Don’t we all wish for a patient, kind, true, and faithful love? Yet we reject God and seek the love the world offers. And what kind of love is that exactly?
The world tells us love is not patient—it desires instant gratification at the expense of commitment, security, and kindness. Young women and men are told it is natural and good to experiment sexually with many partners with no thought of long-term commitment. Then they walk away from the experience feeling used, abused, broken, cheap, unclean, and hopeless. Where is the kindness, where is the patience, where is the satisfaction?
We should get it, but we don’t because we can’t. In the same way my love failed this morning. My love is insufficient, but God’s is sufficient. My love is selfish, but God’s love is humble and seeks not its own. My love is jealous, but God’s love is available to all without partiality. My love has a long memory of wrongs suffered and is slow to forgive, God’s love forgives and then believes all things and hopes all things.
If only God would transform my love into His love…remarkably that is just what God does!
Jesus prays to His Father on the eve of his crucifixion, “I have made You known to them, and will continue to make You known in order that the love You have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” John 17:26 (NIV)