Let’s continue our study on “Love” from the “Love Chapter” in I Corinthians 13:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” [I Corinthians 13: 4-7. NIV]
Love Does Not Delight in Evil, but Rejoices with the Truth. There are at least a couple of directions to go with this. For one, there is the moral understanding. Love is moral. It does not delight in wrongdoing. Love does not include shady business deals, lying, cheating, stealing and so on.
Also, when a spouse or partner does something wrong, loves does not say, “I have something over my partner this time! Now I’ll be able to get him/her back!” Some dysfunctional couples look for ways in which the other person has done something wrong, to either get back at them for a perceived wrong or to hold over their head in a kind of emotional extortion.
Love looks for truth in a relationship with the partner.
Love Always Protects. Love looks out for the well-being of others. However, sometimes it can be misguided as school teachers encounter this principle with parents. After all, their child can not possibly do any wrong. “No, he wouldn’t put a CO2 cartridge bomb in someone’s locker!” “She didn’t steal someone’s lunch money that was on top of that person’s desk!” “My child is not like that!” Parental or family protectiveness is sometime blind or misplaced. A part of parental protection for the child is seeing that their child may well have done something wrong, so a protective love would address the possible misbehavior or dishonesty with the child.
Overall, though, this isn’t about turning a blind eye to someone doing something wrong. However, it IS addressing the need of the person who loves in order to protect the person(s) they love. My wife and I have three children. When each of them reached about age 16, I would buy a used car for them (about $3,000 to $3,600 thirty years ago!). I would use it for work (and be able to determine if something was wrong with the car), and I would teach them how to drive the car that was destined to be theirs. When they were earning enough money to pay for gas, upkeep and their share of the insurance, I would sell the car to them for half what I paid for it. When I did so, I made sure the tires were good and the car was mechanically sound. As long as they lived in our household, I would test it out periodically to make sure it was still in good mechanical condition. I protected the child using the car. Love protects.
Love Always Trusts. This can be problematic in that “trust” is reciprocal. You need to be trustworthy to earn trust by the partner. Yet, love is impacted by jealousy, which is brought about by personal insecurity and the lack of faith in the other person. Is your partner free to make friends, even with the opposite sex? Is the partner able to get a job outside the home or go to school? Do you trust the partner’s use of money or having responsibilities? Keeping tabs on one’s partner all the time is being insecure and fearful, not trusting. To grab a bird so tightly that it can’t get away just ends up crushing the bird. Let the bird who is your partner grow and become what God intended. Trust in God to do that.
Love Always Hopes. Love looks to the future and plans for the future. Do your plans together not always happen the way you expected or planned? Just keep hoping – which means to count on what God has planned for your partner and yourself, even when you can’t see where your life is going. God has a plan for you. Let God work through you in the lives of others as you give them God’s hope in love.
Love Always Perseveres. In a marathon race of 26.2 miles, it is easy to start out. You are rested, your body is tuned and ready. However, each runner talks about “The Wall.” Somewhere in the race, there comes a time in which the body is tired – deeply tired – and the runner’s legs and feet are giving out. This is “The Wall.” If they can just push past The Wall, the race will still not be easy, but it will be easier than it was when they reached The Wall and persevered past it. The runner is much less troubled by the tiredness, the blisters on their feet, and they are feeling a little less miserable. Persevering means to keep on going in spite of adversity.
Sometimes love can be difficult, much like a marathon race. And you just want to give up on love. You hit The Wall. And to give you a warning, you may hit The Wall many times over the course of your life. But love perseveres. It hangs in there even when it seems impossible to continue. When things get difficult, you persevere and keep going.
In summary, these guidelines for “love” that the Apostle Paul wrote and are quoted in the ceremonies of many Christian-based weddings are not easily lived. While we may fail various elements of these admonitions, we still must strive to understand and meet the expectations for love in a relationship. This is certainly not impossible by any means, but it does take work to make love happen – along with a good heap of forgiveness. I wish you, the reader, well as you seek to apply these guides for love in your own life as you love others.