Love is probably one of the most misused, abused, and confused words of all time. TV advertising directs to websites guaranteed to help us find “true” love, as if there is a specific formula. If you insert the correct information in the proper blanks, shake, and stir, the name of the perfect person rises to the top and you’ll live happily ever after. But we all know there is more to love than filling out a questionnaire.
The emphasis on love and the significant role it plays in our lives is nothing new. Love was such a major concept for ancient Greeks they assigned four separate names to the issue of loving and being loved – agape, philia, storge, eros.
In French cooking, presentation is everything. A tiny portion of meat is festooned with garnish, or a dessert plate is enhanced with an artistic swirl of sauce. Usually, the taste of the food lives up to the presentation, but that’s not always the case in life.
Have you ever heard a speaker give a flawless delivery? Pronunciation is impeccable; words are eloquent and inspiring, conveying information on the topic precisely. Initially, listeners are impressed, but, on further examination, there is no take-away value. The concepts are hollow; life application is absent. A few hours later, the speaker’s words are forgotten.
The essence of 1 Corinthians 13 is if we speak with eloquence and intelligence, but don’t demonstrate love for those around us, we’re only making an unpleasant noise. Love requires our physical and emotional presence and involves making others feel valued, important, and accepted.
If we speak with eloquence and intelligence, but don’t demonstrate love for those around us, we’re only making an unpleasant noise.
Sometimes we skimp on ingredients thinking a less expensive brand substituted for the recipe requirement won’t make a difference. But anyone who has taken a bite of a familiar food expecting a certain taste, only to be disappointed by poor flavor or texture, knows that ingredients matter.
Following are love ingredients:
- Patience – We live in a hurry up world. Drive-thru restaurants, microwave gourmet frozen meals, rapid Internet access, eternally-on cell phones, and next-day delivery all attest to our impatience and unwillingness to wait. Patience is a choice that must be cultivated. True love practices patience.
- Kindness – Kindness is often absent in our society. Folks push ahead in line, squeeze in a lane change, or ignore someone who needs help managing a heavy load. Our lives are overscheduled and stressed. We rarely take time to provide simple acts of kindness for others, yet kindness is an attribute of love.
- Unselfish – True love is unselfish, giving while expecting nothing in return. Unselfish love requires effort because it goes against our natural bent. Conditional love is insincere and selfish.
- Envy-less – Envy is counter-productive, loveless, and damaging. We look at what others have, or what they’ve accomplished, and jealousy sprouts a green shoot. Why should that person have that house or car or job or spouse? It takes maturity to move beyond the prickly thorns of envy and rejoice with another’s successes.
- Humble – The proud usually self-elevate by criticizing others, while rarely examining their own shortcomings.
- Without anger – Often anger is a by-product of bitterness from unresolved issues, but it’s impossible to love fully while encumbered by resentment and unforgiveness. Many use anger or irritability, threatening physical violence or verbally abusing when their wishes aren’t anticipated and met. When anger is present, love is absent.
- No scorekeeping – True love doesn’t keep a tally of wrongs. Love embraces the promise of God’s mercy, renewed with each sunrise, and extends that same grace to those who don’t meet our expectations, or wound us; intentionally or not.
Every cook knows proper ingredients alone do not guarantee a tasty culinary delight. Many good cooks are notorious for omitting accurate proportions from the recipes they share. Directions often include phrases like “a smidgeon” or “a pinch.” Proper proportions make a difference in cooking and in loving. Sometimes relationships fail because the following are omitted:
- A Sprinkle of Truth – A healthy serving of honesty enhances any relationship. Lies and true love cannot coexist. Those who substitute fiction for fact, or tell only a portion of the truth, damage relationships.
- A Pinch of Protection – While we usually think of loving protection regarding children or teens, it also applies to guarding our hearts from temptation. Protect yourself from anything or anyone who might compromise your love relationships, including your relationship with God.
- A Dollop of Trust – Trust is crucial to true love. When dishonesty surfaces, trust is compromised.
- A Portion of Hope – There are times when situations seem beyond hope. We doubt circumstances could ever improve, but by clinging to God’s promises, we renew hope.
- A Bushel of Perseverance – Love remains constant during difficult, unexpected, and crisis situations. When things are tough, we often want to escape, but love hangs on and works through difficulties.
It doesn’t do much good to assemble the proper ingredients, measure out correct proportions, and display the finished creation, complete with stunning presentation, if the preparation falls apart somewhere in the process. Sometimes food looks wonderful but tastes terrible. Perhaps a lack of seasoning is to blame, or a step was omitted or rushed during the preparation, rendering the food inedible.
Some forms of love are the same. They appear genuine at first glance, but upon closer inspection are flawed. Any relationship that masquerades as love, while selfishly jeopardizing the life or safety of another is counterfeit. Any profession of love that is conditional on the actions or words of another is a farce. This type of love is about control, and no matter how flattering or secure it may seem, it is warped.
Pursuit of Excellence
1 Corinthians 13 is prefaced with a single phrase, “And now I will show you the most excellent way.” Excellence in anything results from years of practice, from forward motion in the face of obstacles. Many of us have an idealized vision of love, feeling another person, activity, or success will be more fulfilling than our current situation. But love is more excellent than fame, fortune, and knowledge. When everything else fails, love remains.
Love is God’s greatest attribute. He loves us despite our unworthiness and our inattention to Him. Most love relationships cannot survive neglect, but God willingly embraces us when we return from chasing other sources of fulfillment.
The love of God is a feast, a banquet to be enjoyed and savored. Tap into God’s extravagant love, model that love, and watch your life and relationships transform.
“There are three things that remain—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13 TLB).
Tap into God’s extravagant love, model that love, and watch your life and relationships transform.
Candy Arrington is a writer, blogger, speaker, and freelance editor. She often writes on tough topics with a focus on moving through, and beyond, difficult life circumstances. Candy has written hundreds of articles, stories, and devotionals published by numerous outlets including: Inspiration.org, Arisedaily.com, CBN.com, Healthgrades.com, Care.com, Focus on the Family, NextAvenue.org, CountryLiving.com, and Writer’s Digest. Candy’s books include Life on Pause: Learning to Wait Well (Bold Vision Books), When Your Aging Parent Needs Care (Harvest House), and AFTERSHOCK: Help, Hope, and Healing in the Wake of Suicide (B&H Publishing Group).
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