Valentine’s Day is coming soon, and if you’ve spent any time on Pinterest, you can’t miss it. From Valentine Oreos to heart-shaped cupcakes, handmade Valentines to 50 Ways to Love Your Husband, cyberspace is filled with the notion that love is in the air, and there are a million ways to express it.
It’s easy to see how most define love when you look around in this culture. The world would have us believe that love is a mere emotion . . . a feeling that just happens to us. Expressions like “falling in love” abound. I’ve had plenty of falls in my life, and every one of them happened because I had no control over the circumstances. Terms such as this intimate a false assumption — that we have no control over who or how we love.
But the modern day culture has never been the source of truth. Truth tells us something very different from the world. Paul tells us a lot about love in 1 Corinthians, chapter 13. This popular “wedding” passage describes the highest form of love — agape love. And it tells us, among other things, that love is patient, kind, doesn’t envy or boast, doesn’t get angry, doesn’t keep a record of wrongs, and always protects, trusts, hopes, and perseveres.
But I want to focus for a few minutes on verse 7:
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:7)
As my Grandma used to say — love is an action word. That phrase “bears all things” in the Greek is comparable to a roof over a house. It’s the kind of love that guards and protects. It makes us feel secure and safe.
But we all know that sometimes love is just plain hard, and it’s easy to not feel so safe and secure in love. I think Paul knew that love wasn’t always going to be easy when he wrote that letter to the church at Corinth and included the phrase, “endures all things.” It’s not often that we use the word “endure” with actions we are enjoying. We endure pain, exercise, health problems, the loss of a loved one. We are also supposed to endure love, too?
I think he might have been hinting to the church that the honeymoon was over.
In a popular Peanuts cartoon, Charlie Brown admonishes Lucy with the words, “Lucy, you must be more loving. This world really needs love. You have to let yourself love to make this world a better place.” To which Lucy responds, “Look, Blockhead, the world I love. It’s people I can’t stand!”
Can you relate?
So, what do you do if the people you can’t stand live right in your own home?
Because sometimes we do. Marriage is hard. Parenting is hard. And much of the time, we are hard on ourselves. It’s easy to find justification for our lack of loving. For our lack of hope.
Perhaps your husband has a temper, and takes his anger out on you and the children. Every day. Maybe you have a child who is sometimes unpredictable in his behavior, disrespectful even. Are you currently living with your in-laws as they judge every move you make in housekeeping and mothering? There are many reasons we can find to feel unloved by or unloving toward those we should love most.
I have something to tell you that may be tough to hear. But it is an important truth I came to realize a couple of years ago when I found myself not feeling so loved or loving:
Love hopes all things.
And there’s more to this story. Despite what you may have been led to believe, love is not even a choice.
Love is a commandment.
Jesus tells us to love Him and love each other. Period. End of conversation. He doesn’t tell us to only love those who deserve it (which of us does?). He just says to love. And then, as Paul shares with the church at Corinth, to hope.
I’m reminded of another verse where Paul uses the words, “all things.” In Romans 8:28 (one of my life verses), we’re told that ALL THINGS work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose.
Our husbands and children need for us to stand in the gap for them. They need us to love them enough to hope that they (we) will become more and more like Christ. Even when it seems nearly impossible.
For nothing will be impossible with God. (Luke 1:37)
Unlike falling, we actually do have a measure of control with love. Our loved ones need for us to purpose in our hearts and minds to hope all things for them and know that all things work together for our benefit.
I don’t mean that we should live in an unhealthy or dangerous relationship (sometimes we need to love from afar). Love is not blind or stupid. But it is vital that we hope all things always, especially for those whom love does not come easy. Love sees it all — the good, the bad, and the ugly. But it is full of faith, and makes the choice to see beyond unlovable actions with a belief that things can and will be different. Really, it is the kind of love that just never gives up. Like a (Snoopy) dog with a bone.
I love that Charlie Brown was hopeful for Lucy. And that he understood that we “must be more loving.” He was right.
People will always fail us. But part of loving is hoping, and part of hoping is seeing the potential of those you love.
Even when they sometimes pull the football away just as you kick.
The Bible is filled with Scripture about love. I’ve chosen 12 that show how much Jesus loves us and turned them into sweet note cards. These printable and foldable cards can be used to send a note of encouragement to someone you love, or you can even frame them to have around to remind yourself of the greatest Love of all. They are my gift to you.
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