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Live Bravely: Applying Love

How did I ever think I was going to adequately cover this topic? I could write every blog post for a year and never be able to fully cover all that the bible teaches about love. So all I can do is truly write what I feel led to write. I pray this month's love theme helps someone.

I tried not to start out of the gate with the obvious, but I truly don't see any way out of it for the first "love"post. It just has to start with "What is love?" Right? Where I get hung up is with the answer because it is beyond my comprehension to explain it.

God is love. 1 John 4:8

Yeah, blog post over. The enormity of that concept is baffling especially if you study the inverse of that - love is God. Not true. Love is not God because God is so much more than just love, but love is not able to be defined without God. OK, moving on.

Whenever I get overwhelmed with a bible topic (which I completely self-inflicted in choosing the topic of love) I go to John Piper or Tim Keller and tonight was no different. Best bible teachers ever.

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The apostle Paul lists fifteen things above that love does and does not do. It's somewhat strange really because he isn't giving a true definition of love as what he offers above misses a few key elements that we are taught in other passages of scripture. At the core of love is a self-sacrificing pursuit of the beloved’s greatest good. And it does so, if necessary, at cost to the lover. As we see below, love gives, saves, rescues, helps.

God so loved the world that he gave his only son. John 3:16

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends. John 15:13

In this is love . . . that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

If we group the fifteen elements that Paul lists they fall into three categories. One that loves does, one that love is not, and one that love is.

Enduring (not fragile)

  • is patient (longsuffering)

  • bears all things

  • believes all things

  • hopes all things

  • endures all things

Humble (not proud)

  • not envious (or jealous)

  • not boastful (or proud)

  • not arrogant (or puffed up)

  • not rude (offending manners)

  • not insist on its own way (seeks not its own)

  • not irritable (not easily peeved)

  • not resentful (not keep an account of wrongs)

  • not rejoice at wrongdoing (not boast of promiscuous freedom)

Pro-kindness and truth

  • kind

  • rejoices with the truth (glad for the truth to advance)

Throughout the chapter of Corinthians, we see example after example of inappropriate and unacceptable behavior.

  • They were boasting in men (3:21).

  • They were puffed up, even in wrongdoing (5:1-2).

  • They were unwilling to suffer long and bear all things and so were taking each other to court (6:1-8).

  • They were insisting on their own way in eating meat that caused others to stumble (8:11-12). They were acting in rude, unseemly ways not wearing the customary head-coverings (11:1-16).

  • They were insisting on their own way as they ate their own meal at the Lord’s Supper without any regard to others (11:21-22).

  • They were jealous and envious as they compared their spiritual gifts and thought that some were needed and others were not (12:21-22).

So in 13:4-7, Paul wasn't defining love, he was applying it to the Corinthians attitudes and behaviors and teaching them that how they were treating each other was not how love should act or feel.

So how can we make the three categories relevant to us today?

1. Pray to be offended less

The first category (endurance) says that wherever there is love there is pain—love suffers long, endures all things, bears all things. This is realism and can be comforting. If two people, or two thousand people, are in a relationship of love, all will be hurt. And all will need to “suffer long” and endure and bear.

2. Pray to be less prideful

Even more penetrating is the major emphasis on pride. Is it not surprising that the opposite of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is not hate but pride. The main category of what love does not do is arrogance (boasting, seeking its own way).

3. Pray to be happy and for truth to prevail.

How will you apply love to others? To yourself? And send up some love for John Piper tonight for helping me out.

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