Happy Valentine’s Day
During the month of February, I’m engaged in the Bible Study entitled “How to Love Well” (by Abide Prayer) on Bible YouVersion. It’s a very short daily devotional with an audio clip. It’s helping me to focus on the importance of love in my relationships with others.
The most famous love chapter in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13. There simply isn’t another resource that can define love better. Frequently read at weddings and other occasions, it teaches us about what true love looks like, how it thinks, and how it acts.
But other than romantic love, can this passage help us to assess our relationships with others? Yes, it can. I’ve interpreted a few verses here (using NKJV).
- And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing (vs 3). When we do things for others because we should, instead of doing them out of a heart full of love, we demonstrate selfishness instead of love. God sees the attitude of our heart, not our action.
- Love suffers long and is kind (vs 4). Patience and kindness are both essential to build quality relationships with others. This includes our family. Sometimes the most difficult people in our lives are also in our family. We are instructed to pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44). It’s wise to remember that difficult people are often difficult because they’re not aware of their impact on others. Perhaps they are going through a tough season in their lives and they need a little extra TLC. Biting our tongue on words we want to say is challenging, but the Holy Spirit gives us the strength we need.
- Love does not envy (vs 4). Battling envy and jealousy isn’t easy when other people’s lives look better than ours or other people seem to have more financial and material possessions than we do. Often intimidation caused by envy and jealousy keeps us from loving fully and interferes in our relationships with others. Recognizing that this is a spiritual problem that we need to fix within ourselves can help us to move beyond it.
- Love does not parade itself, is not puffed up, does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil (vs 4-5). In relationships, loving others does not include making ourselves look better than another. We must always consider others as equal to ourselves. If we are trying to “one-up” in our conversations or actions, we are saying we are better than the other. We can’t build relationships this way.
When we are with others that do behave like this, we need to set safe boundaries in our interactions to protect ourselves from being hurt. At the same time, we need to recognize that often people don’t know how they are affecting us. An open conversation can often help to shift the dynamics of the relationship.
- Does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth (vs 6). It should sadden us when we see injustice and evil. We may rejoice when justice is done, but at the same time, we must pray for those who do injustice that their hearts may be changed. Often people do bad things with good intentions or without realizing the impact that they might have on others. Sometimes, bad decisions are caused by selfishness and immaturity. We need to look beyond the destructive words and actions of others and give them more grace.
- Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (vs 7). Let’s try to believe for the best in others, and be hopeful for change. We will never achieve the goal set forth in this verse, but it’s certainly worth aspiring towards.
Valentine’s Day isn’t just about remembering your significant other. It’s also about understanding the importance of love in our relationships with everyone.
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