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, esv).
Love is the relational dynamite that obliterates any obstacle in its path—anything that threatens to keep you from loving.
But not just any kind of love can do this. Not phileo, for instance, the Greek word for brotherly love. Neither can the Old Testament eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth love, where you say you’ll do something for somebody as long as they do what you expect them to do for you.
First Corinthians 13 love is agape love. It’s the Mount Everest of love—a rock you can stand on. Agape love is 100 percent a choice of your will to love another person, wanting only what’s best for them before you even think about what’s best for yourself. Nothing can stand in the way of this kind of love.
Selfishness can’t stand in the way of agape. The biggest obstacle in you, the biggest obstacle in me, is selfishness—thinking only of how something affects us. But “love is patient and kind.” Not selfish. “Love does not envy or boast,” because it’s not selfish. “It is not arrogant or rude,” because it’s not selfish. “It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful,” because it’s not focused on itself. God’s love in you is a depth of love you can’t produce yourself. Love conquers selfishness.
Skepticism can’t stand in the way of agape. We say, “I get so tired of you”—but “love bears all things.” We say, “You’re never going to change. I don’t think you can do it”—but love “believes all things.” We say, “I just don’t see myself with you anymore. I don’t see how this marriage can last”—but love “hopes all things.” We say, “I can’t keep going on like this. I can’t do it anymore”—but love “endures all things.” Agape love refuses to doubt God’s good intentions toward that person’s future. Love conquers skepticism.
Status quo can’t stand in the way of agape. It’s understandable to get discouraged or frustrated at people’s inability or unwillingness to see what they’re doing and how it’s causing pain in others. But love believes that God’s transforming power is not finished with people yet, whether it’s a spouse, one of our children, a close but difficult friend—or us. Love prays, perseveres, and holds out for His highest and best. “It does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.” Love conquers the status quo.
You don’t even need to like someone—not every moment anyway—to be able to love her with 1 Corinthians 13 love. You just need to decide, God helping you, that you are going to love that person and do what’s best for him. No matter what. Always.
It’s a supernatural thing, this love. But God can give you the supernatural capacity to do it. And when He does, there’s nothing in you, and nothing in them, that can stop what this love can accomplish.
Heavenly Father, thank You for loving me with a perfect, supernatural love. Thank You for being patient, for continuing to bear with me, and for never giving up on me. Thank You, too, for the people You’ve placed in my life that I can love at close range, for giving me the opportunity to influence them deeply through how well I care for them and persevere with them. Love them through me, Lord, with Your agape love. I ask this in the mighty name of Jesus, amen.