If you’re Resting at the River’s Edge with us, reading through the Bible in two years, Friday’s reading included 1 Corinthians 13 – the “love chapter.” I’ve read this passage many, many times. When I read it yesterday, though, for some reason it arrested my attention and I read it much more slowly than normal. I read it as bullet points instead of in paragraph form, and I concentrating on each point. What a challenge this passage provides! Let me share with you the challenge God gave me – the challenge to truly love those God has put in our lives.

1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

I’ve listened to music that sounded to my ears like clanging cymbals. (Oh, it makes me feel so old to say that.) I like most types of music, but I’ve heard the occasional home band that hasn’t quite found their stride. Perhaps each musician and singer was good, but put together, they couldn’t find the same key or timing. I couldn’t wait for the music to stop. The clashing and discordant noise literally hurt my ears. That’s what my voice sounds like when I am speaking without first having shown my love. That’s what my voice sounds like when I haven’t first proven my love. Ugh. My heart is pierced by the phrase “That’s what my voice sounds like.”

Lord, teach me to demonstrate love before I speak.

2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

Nothing. A vast emptiness. A void. The faith that can move mountains, the gift of being able to see what God is revealing, the ability to understand all mysteries and all knowledge – they all come to nothing – they all have no impact – if I am not operating out of love. Having those things and not having love – I am totally ineffectual – I am nothing.

Lord give me that faith that moves mountains. Enable me to understand the deep truths of Your Word. But first, Lord, give me love for others. Teach me to love as You love.

3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

No sacrifice has meaning without love. My sacrifices gain nothing for me if I have not sacrificed out of love. When I think of sacrifice, my mind automatically assumes that the sacrifice is made out of love. Not true. Sacrifices are often made out of pride (I’ll sacrifice to show how disciplined or capable I am) or spite (what my mother used to describe as “biting off my nose to spite my face”) or duty. Nothing is gained from those sacrifices. It is the sacrifice made out of love that impacts the world.

4aLove is patient.

Again. Love is patient again. And again, and again, and again. It hopes and waits expectantly – that’s patience.

4bLove is kind.

Kindness has been lost to a large degree in our society. Treating others with respect and a positive attitude – it is a hallmark of love.

4cLove does not envy.

Love is not jealous of the position, achievements or property of others. It rejoices over the blessings others receive without regard for our own situation. Has my annoyingly rich neighbor just gotten a promotion making him even richer? I will not envy, I will rejoice that he is being rewarded for his hard work and abilities.

Lord…help me to rejoice.

4dLove does not boast.

Love cares too much about the other person to boast. When I boast I am elevating myself at the expense of others. That’s not love.

4eLove is not proud.

Pride gets in the way of love. Like boasting, it requires that I elevate myself over others. I can’t serve when I am prideful.

Lord, help me to humble myself in all conversations and all venues.

5aLove is not rude.

Patience and kindness are the antithesis of rudeness. Love is patient and kind. It is not rude – even to those around us who seem to invite us to be rude to them. Love especially smiles upon those people.

5bLove is not self-seeking.

Rather, it seeks the best for others.

5cLove is not easily angered.

Love holds to peace – at the expense of saying all those things we might want to say and of feeling all those things we might want to feel. When we are wronged or someone we love is wronged – love is not easily angered.

5dLove keeps no record of wrongs.

There are no “I told you so’s” in love. There is no grudge-holding in love.

6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

Love does not rejoice at the misfortune of those who have sinned against us.

7aLove always protects.

It doesn’t tell stories that would put others in a bad light. It doesn’t complain about the weaknesses of others. It protects – it shields and covers. (Please don’t interpret this wrongly. Love does not enable bad behavior.)

7bLove always trusts.

Love is not suspicious. It always trusts.

7cLove always hopes.

Hope – to expect with confidence. Love always anticipates the best – it is always waiting and looking for the best to appear. Sometimes I fall into expecting the worst from some people. That’s not love.

7dLove always perseveres.

Love doesn’t give up. It continues to be patient and kind. It continues to protect and trust. It continues to keep no record of wrongs and it continues to hope.

8aLove never fails.

One of the meanings for the word translated “fails” is “to be without effect.” Love never becomes ineffective. It always has an effect. Whether we see that effect or not, we can know that love is changing the situation and the person.

There are things that my husband is not that I would like him to be. Surprise! Or should I say “no surprise!” No single person is all we want them to be. I can choose to focus on those things he is not, but I wouldn’t be practicing love. I could keep track of all the times he fails me, but I would not be demonstrating love. I could lose patience with him because yet again he did things his way instead of my way, but I would not be showing him love. People don’t “fall out of love” – they quit practicing love.

Lord, there are many things I could benefit from practicing. Help me to make practicing love second nature – something I do daily.

It’s easy (ok, relatively easy) to apply this list to my husband, who has built up credits beyond credits in the “love bank;” but God has also called me to apply this list to those who are overdrawn in their love bank account. God has called me to apply this list to those who have haven’t even opened an account yet and to those who probably never plan to open an account.

Life gets wearisome. Love always hopes, perseveres and never fails. Keeping love alive takes a bit of conscious effort, but it shields us from the weariness that comes from living around those who are not practicing love.

8bBut where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away…13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

That which we do out of love “remains” – it never ceases to have an effect, it endures, it lives on.

Father, give me a heart of love toward those around me. Let me see through eyes of love and hear through ears of love. But mostly, Lord, help me to respond as love would have me respond. Make me a mountain-mover, but first make me a lover.

3 Responses to “Lord, Teach Me to Love”
  1. Lisa says:

    Love this. Caused me to rethink this very common passage in a whole new light!

  2. Marcus Fernandes says:


  3. Sally says:

    Lord,teach me to love without which my life would be worthless qnd empty. Please Lord, renew the spirit of love in me on Jesus’ name, Amen!

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