Love Never Fails

by Scarlett Stough

How does a person set an example in love as Timothy was exhorted to do (I Timothy 4:12)? The apostle Paul wrote down a description of how to show love in the letter to the Corinthian church (I Corinthians 13).

Nothing we can do in this life, not great oratory, not great knowledge or foresight, not even faith, charitable giving, or martyrdom, is as important as expressing the love that never fails.

The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates I Corinthians 13:4-8 this way:

Love is patient; love is kind. Love does not envy; is not boastful; is not conceited; does not act improperly; is not selfish; is not provoked; does not keep a record of wrongs; finds no joy in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends….

Love is recognized as much for what it is not, as for what it is and does. Whether this passage is read from the KJV, the NIV, or any other translation, we have to all cringe at how far short of this ideal we fall. As beautiful as this passage is, as well-known as it is, has any one of us ever seen anyone who fully lived up to it? Yet we are called upon by God to make the effort.

We start by acknowledging our failure to set an example in love, confession (I John 1:8-10). We set our mind to desire to follow the way of love, repentance (II Corinthians 7:8-11). We ask God to give us through his Spirit the power to love his way, prayer (Hebrews 4:14-16). We consider how to apply each point in this list, meditation (Psalm 119:9-16). Then we make baby steps each day toward living that life of love, practice (I John 5:1-5). When we fall down, which we will just as toddlers do, we confess, repent, pray, meditate, and practice until we can put aside our childish ways of thinking and behaving (I Corinthians 13:11).

It is often easier to start with resisting the urges to envy, boast, or react in anger than it is to build an inner loving attitude that leads to loving action. When we begin with those small steps like biting the tongue to keep from making rude replies, God will use those efforts to transform and renew our minds so we can become more like Christ in attitude and actions.

Love never fails. This is another way of saying that love is eternally faithful. Love is always the appropriate response to every human interaction. It is the motivation for discipline of children in families or in groups such as church congregations. Love gives a soft answer to turn away wrath, but never backs down from doing whatever is right in God’s sight. Love is simple enough for a child to understand and love is as complex as God. Love is a goal worth persevering to express. It is a matter of life and death. (I John 2:24-25

Bible Study Guide: Set An Example in Love
 
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