Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.1 Corinthians 13:4-5 ESV
Chances are this verse was read at your wedding. And if it wasn’t, you’ve most likely heard it spoken at another. It’s so familiar that it’s nicknamed the “wedding verse” and can often be found stitched to a pillow or written in a picture frame, neatly wrapped and tied with a bow for the bride and groom to open at the end of the service. But how well do you really know these words God speaks to your union? Have you ever spent more than the few fleeting moments standing in front of a officiant or sitting behind the couple to truly meditate on the verse and apply it to your marriage?
Authenticity and transparency are key to life-giving relationships, and the key to succeeding in those important relationships can be found in these verses. If we want the type of love in our marriages that Jesus brought, then we need to apply the truths in these verses to our relationships. It can be easy to sit back and point a finger and say the other person is not doing these things. We all want someone to blame. But that’s not what God is after—He’s after a change in you. Restoration and reconciliation never happen as a result of you changing the other person, the kind of peace and unity that you’re after only happens as a result of you changing. As you study these verses, pause and reflect on your own behavior, and resist the urge to think of your spouse’s response to this verse.
We all love imperfectly because we all try to love others in our own power. We need to continually hold up God’s definition of love against what to world teaches us to find and fight the discrepancies. And when we do, we need to think about how we love others—not how others love us. Far too often, we hear this list and immediately start thinking about how our spouse has failed us. We’re not meant to apply scripture to other people’s lives, we’re meant to apply it to our own.
We are all guilty of hearing criticism where love is intended, or of giving criticism where we want to love. I get caught in this trap all the time. I could walk around with this verse in front of me all day, and I’d still do it. But I am growing in my ability to love as He loves, and I’m learning to catch myself quicker.
Changing my thinking about people was the first step—I intentionally try think the best of others, and I’m learning to receive well. I’m learning to assume positive intent. We are so naturally critical as humans that we tend to think others are being critical of us in what they say or think. I try hard not to assume the worst when I am receiving someone’s words. It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that someone’s intention in their words is to be hurtful, but my experiences have taught me that far too often, people don’t even recognize the hurt their words cause because they’re so wrapped up in their own thoughts and feelings.
In short, I stopped being so sensitive. I assume people have other things going on in their heads than just me and my feelings, I assume they have different agendas and trials they’re dealing with in their lives rather than me. And I allow them to be who they are—a broken sinner like me working through life the best they can. That includes my husband, my friends, my children.
I also work hard to see the good in everything—that takes effort and retraining of the brain. My mind is so well trained to immediately see problems, judge others, criticize situations. I am a problem solver, so I see problems everywhere. I have to intentionally take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. When we look for good, we see things we could not see before. But it takes effort and work on my part to be intentional about seeing the good in others, and it takes spending daily time in His Word allowing Him to fill me with His Spirit.
Finally, I work to create an environment of love, even when those around me seem to want to create the complete opposite. I used to get angry and be confrontational when I felt I was working on being loving, but others around me were not applying the same truths to their lives. I used to be the martyr, complaining that I’m over here being awesome, and certain people around me were just being mean. But the focus of those thoughts is on me, and not on what this verse calls us to do—not be irritable, not be resentful, but to bear all things, believe all things, endure all things. I’ve found that I need to be the love in my life that I so desperately crave, and not expect others to be it for me. And when I have chosen to allow the Spirit to move in me in a way that demonstrates His love where it is most difficult, I have been blown away at the incredible blessings He has given to me.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗