1 Cor 13 gives us God’s measurements of love. How are we measuring up?
Love is patient. (1 Cor 13:4) It waits. It is not in a hurry. It doesn’t flounce off when things don’t happen to our timescales or give up when things are slow. I think there’s a reason God made a pregnancy to last 40 weeks. Love needs to learn patience.
Love is kind. (1 Cor 13:4) It is considerate, thoughtful and tolerant. It’s outgoing, seeking someone else’s good and being merciful to them. It likes to give rather than to take.
Love does not envy. (1 Cor 13:4) It doesn’t want what someone else has, like the toddler snatching the toy away from the baby in selfishness. It’s not jealous or covetous.
Love does not boast. (1 Cor 13:4) It’s not self-centred, thinking the world revolves around us and wanting everyone to know our every achievement. It’s content to take second place and be quiet.
Love is not proud. (1 Cor 13:4) Pride prevents us from saying sorry and from doing the menial stuff. It always has a higher opinion of ourselves than of others; pride makes us like the Pharisee who looked down on the tax collector with disdain. Love doesn’t care if we have to wash people’s feet; it’s not bothered about position.
Love does not dishonour others. (1 Cor 13:5) It always seeks what’s best for someone else, even if that means inconvenience to ourselves.
Love is not self-seeking. (1 Cor 13:5) So many of our problems in relationships occur because we are selfish. When we truly consider others before ourselves, we learn how to love as God loves.
Love is not easily angered. (1 Cor 13:5) It’s not volatile, snappy, bad-tempered or like a rocket, flying off in all directions. Love takes the blows and absorbs them instead of acting like a trampoline and bouncing the blows back onto someone else.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. (1 Cor 13:5) It’s amazing how good our memories are when it comes to remembering wrongs done to us. Instead of this, we need to learn to forgive and let go of the wrongs. We need to improve our ‘forgettory’!
Love does not delight in evil. (1 Cor 13:6) It doesn’t laugh when someone else falls or fails. It doesn’t gloat and chuckle over mistakes. Secure in itself, love does not need to ‘revel when others grovel’, as the Message version puts this.
Love rejoices with the truth. (1 Cor 13:6) Truth becomes the definition by which we live, and God defines truth because He is truth (see John 14:6) Every time we see truth flourishing, we can rejoice.
Love always protects. (1 Cor 13:7) It guards and seeks to prevent harm coming to others. It holds an umbrella over another’s head when it rains and a parasol when it’s hot. It’s always thinking of the other person’s good.
Love always trusts. (1 Cor 13:7) Instead of jumping to conclusions, making assumptions about people’s motives as well as their actions (‘they didn’t speak to me so they must hate me’) and being quick to believe the worst, love works hard to trust and have faith.
Love always hopes. (1 Cor 13:7) Instead of being cynical and using low expectations as a defence against disappointment, love chooses to hope. It believes the best, not the worst, and insists that no one is hopeless.
Love always perseveres. (1 Cor 13:17) We started with patience and we end with perseverance. The two things work together; they are the unsung heroes of love. When romantic love has faded and affection has worn threadbare, patience and perseverance keep going. They help us to keep on loving, no matter what.