1 Corinthians 13, you know, the “love is” verses, wasn’t something that existed on Earth. No one loved like that. It wasn’t possible. At least I know I didn’t receive or give love that way.
But God stepped into my story at the age of 35 and backed up His words. In a few moments, that felt like hours, God’s love covered me like a blanket, pulsed through my veins, and changed my life. The power of love was revealed to me through my life’s transformation.
As I began to make discoveries of who God really is, I couldn’t help notice a common theme in the Bible, especially the New Testament – Love. Love God with everything you’ve got and love others. I’ll never forget the impact of reading John 13-17. When I got to John 13:34 and 35 where Jesus left us a new commandment, the words just leaped off the page surrounded by flashing lights.
Love as I have loved. This is how you will be known as my disciples.-Jesus (paraphrased)
Talk about feeling like a failure. I had not been loving , especially not love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13. If I’m supposed to love God and people like that, then I was failing tremendously. I had been a Christian my entire life and never really believed in that part of the Scriptures. Well, maybe I believed that God could love like that, but honestly, I don’t think I truly can even say that.
Looking back, my lack of faith in love impacted my relationship with Jesus and all those around me. I never felt capable of such love nor did I see it around me. I used to think I was the only crazy person who thought this way, but over the last four years I have learned that I’m not. It’s not crazy and it’s actually a very common experience.
I’ve known Jesus since I was 5. I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior and was baptized in water and the Spirit at the age of 12. But, only now, 35 years later can I say that I am in love with Love Himself. The description of love in 1 Corinthians can exist and does exist. The problem wasn’t that love didn’t exist or wasn’t possible. It was that I had never allowed myself to be loved by Love Himself. Without His love, not only was I incapable of loving well, I was unable to accept love from those who did love me.
I was so dependent on my own abilities that I was never able to tap into the Love of God. We can only have this perfect love if we know God. God is Love. So, He is the only person who can truly teach us how to love. We can only experience this perfect love through Him.
That was where I was getting it wrong. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was limiting love to an earthly emotion. Love, however, is NOT of this world. It taps into all aspects of our being – body, mind, soul, and spirit. So to truly experience perfect love, Jesus must be a part of the equation.
God gave His only Son to redeem us (John 3:16). Jesus gave His own life to heal, forgive, and save us (John 19:17 – 2-:10). He conquered death and is alive today interceding for us at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34). The Holy Spirit came to abide in us; to help, comfort, bring peace, teach, and empower (John 14:16, 26-28, John 20:21-23, Acts 1:8).
What greater love is there than all of this?
If love was just a simple emotion limited to us here on Earth, we wouldn’t see such anguish and pain resulting from bad relationships. But love is so deeply rooted into our ENTIRE being. We were formed and created by and in Love (aka God). God created us in His image and God is love, so to limit it to a basic emotion is oversimplifying it’s true value, importance, and impact. The reason we don’t love and experience the kind of love we read about in 1 Corinthians 13 is because we aren’t living in Love (aka God). We aren’t living like Christ. We are not allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. This revelation changed my life and I pray it changes yours.
Whether you’ve been a Christian your whole life, a few months, or not at all, and you, like me, just can’t wrap your head around true and perfect love because you’ve never thought it was possible, I encourage you to take a few moments and intentionally set your heart on God. Ask the Holy Spirit to unveil and reveal His love for you – to you. If you want this kind of love, ask that He help you love and experience Love. That’s what I did and after 35 years of knowing God, I’m finally IN LOVE with LOVE HIMSELF.
1 Corinthians 13 (tPt)
If I were to speak with eloquence in earth’s many languages, and in the heavenly tongues of angels, yet I didn’t express myself with love, my words would be reduced to the hollow sound of nothing more than a clanging cymbal.
And if I were to have the gift of prophecy with a profound understanding of God’s hidden secrets, and if I possessed unending supernatural knowledge, and if I had the greatest gift of faith that could move mountains, but have never learned to love, then I am nothing.
And if I were to be so generous as to give away everything I owned to feed the poor, and to offer my body to be burned as a martyr, without the pure motive of love, I would gain nothing of value.
Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.
Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense.
Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.
Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love never stops loving. It extends beyond the gift of prophecy, which eventually fades away. It is more enduring than tongues, which will one day fall silent. Love remains long after words of knowledge are forgotten.
Our present knowledge and our prophecies are but partial, but when love’s perfection arrives, the partial will fade away.
When I was a child, I spoke about childish matters, for I saw things like a child and reasoned like a child. But the day came when I matured, and I set aside my childish ways.
For now we see but a faint reflection of riddles and mysteries as though reflected in a mirror, but one day we will see face-to-face. My understanding is incomplete now, but one day I will understand everything, just as everything about me has been fully understood.
Until then, there are three things that remain: faith, hope, and love—yet love surpasses them all. So above all else, let love be the beautiful prize for which you run.