The Greatest of These, Part III

I love things that will last. Recently, as we’ve attempted to declutter our lives, we’ve made some hard decisions on what to throw away, what to keep, and what to outright replace. For instance, we’ve gone with just under professional grade stainless steel cookware. It’s a bit harder to maintain, probably shouldn’t go in the dishwasher (we hand wash), and it took a little getting used to compared to non-stick Teflon coated pans, but these should last for many, many years. As a result, we won’t be looking at having to replace them any time soon. They should stand the test of time. Love is that way, too.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.  – 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, ESV

Love never ends. Read that again. If you’re married, real love never ends. Emotional feelings may last a long time. “Chemistry” may be intense. But authentic love doesn’t end. Things will be hard to manage at times. You may not like your spouse very much at certain moments. But none of that is love. Love is an act of will. Love is a choice. And authentic love doesn’t end. Folks don’t fall out of love. That’s not a true statement. Real love lasts.

Most everything else we hold as important doesn’t. Latin is a dead language. We’re seeing other human languages die out. They won’t last. We don’t speak in Old English any longer, for instance. It’s dead, too. Knowledge fades. How many books and movies are based on a future where we’ve forgotten how to use the technology of the past, usually because of our own hubris? Jobs come and they go. We’ve seen the last few years companies we thought would be around for a long time go away. The things the world places stock in will all disappear into oblivion. But not love. Not real love. Not agape love. That’s what God wants us to understand. And since God loves us with this agape love, His love will never end. His love is never conditional. If we truly accept and love his Son and surrender ourselves to Him, then we receive the Father’s love. Once granted it is never revoked. And since this is God’s example, He wants it to be our example.

Perfect love also helps us see that which isn’t such. Agape love helps us recognize the difference and let the less than perfect go. When the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. This is also another thing that married folks (like myself) should remember. Maybe when you entered into marriage it wasn’t for the right reasons. Maybe you didn’t truly love your spouse. However, if you and your spouse are serious about loving each other the way God wants you to love each other, then those past mistakes can be left behind. The perfect love will smooth out those old hurts. No, you cannot undo the past. But perfect, agape love means being able to attack the future together as one, the way God intended. This is true of any relationship. Perfect love can overcome the past. We have to want it, both sides of the relationship must, but it is doable. God has given us the mechanism: a love that follows His own example. After all, remember what Romans 5:8 tells us, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If God can do that towards us, then we can do it towards each other.

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