I'm currently doing a Bible study on 1 Corinthians 13 called Love like Him. When I started this study, I felt like I had a pretty good understanding of the message of the passage. I also felt that I knew what loving like Jesus looked like. The more I dig into this chapter, the more God is showing me that saying you love someone and actually living like you do are two very different things. Saying it with our mouth is easy. Living it out in our everyday life is very difficult.
One of the first things that I discovered was in verse 1. When the passage says "but have not love" it's not talking about just possessing love. It's deeper than that. The Greek for "have" is echo and it means to hold oneself to something or to cling to something. The passage is saying that if we don't cling to love or hold ourselves to love then we become like a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. It makes me think of a small child that clings to their mother. Nothing can separate them. They go everywhere together and do everything as one. When we cling to love, we go everywhere and do everything with love as our motive.
Having love like Paul is talking about is not always easy because this kind of love is the enemy to selfishness. Love is patient and kind. It makes the mind firm and gives it power over angry passions. Love makes us patiently perservere with one another rather than explode in anger at another's behavior. Love makes us desire to be useful and seek opportunities to do good. When we love others we share in their joy and successes. When something good happens to them, it's like it happened to us. It does not impair or lessen our joy, it increases it. The prosperity of others will never grieve us if we have 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love. If our mind is set on doing good to everyone then we will never hope for bad things to happen to anyone. When a friend gets a promotion we rejoice with them even if we've just received a pay cut or lost a job. When someone we love finally brings home the child they've been trying to adopt for years, we share in their joy even if we've been waiting longer to have our own child or bring an adopted child home.
Love does not seek its own praise or profit. It does not strive for it's own way while hurting others. It often will neglect its own desires or wants to benefit someone else. Love puts the needs and satisfaction of others before its own. 1 Corinthians 13:5 says "It does not insist on its own way". I always thought of "insist" as an outward action. Saying or doing something to persuade someone to do things your way. But when I looked at the Greek, I discovered something that changed how I read that verse.
The Greek word for insist is "zeteo" and it means seek for, strive after, demand, aim at, crave. The first three (seek for, strive after, demand) went along with how I understood "insist" to be an outward action. But then "aim at" and "crave" gave it a new meaning to me. When I aim to do something that is an internal choice I make. If I aim to please someone then I make a decision in my heart or mind to do things that make them happy. If my aim is to hurt someone, then I will choose actions and behaviors that harm them in some way. I think of someone's aim as their motive. Every choice we make, good or bad, has a motive behind it. Nothing that we do just happens. I may not want to admit it, but unkind words, thoughts, and actions are a result of my aim.
Insist also has a deeper level to its meaning. When you think of the word "crave", what comes to mind? My first thought is "craving for chocolate". When you have a craving for something, it's an internal desire that can only be satisfied by that one thing. When we "crave" for our own way, then we will not be happy or satisfied until we get it. This means we may do things that are harmful to ourselves and others until we get what we want. It's like a child who pitches temper tantrums to get their own way. They kick and scream and throw things because they want something really badly. You can offer them everything else under the sun, but until they get what they were "craving" they cannot be consoled. As adults we have our own temper tantrums that exhibit themselves as pouting, rude comments, silent treatments, or many other childish actions. When we insist on, demand, aim at, or crave our own way we are not clinging or holding ourselves to love.
When I do not cling to love, I am nothing. When I do not cling to love, I am a repetitious annoying sound. When I choose not to hold myself to love, my actions are useless. When I choose not to hold myself to love, my surrender is pointless. When I do not have love, I misrepresent the gospel. When I crave my own way, I make my wants more important than the wants of others. When I aim at getting my own way, I miss the purpose and plan God has for me. When I demand my own way, I gratify myself at the cost of others.
Do you think loving like Jesus is the easy choice? Do you think that love is just a happy feeling we have for our friends and family? If so I challenge you to take a deeper look at 1 Corinthians 13 and see for yourself exactly how Paul defined love. Just be ready to see yourself and your actions in a whole new way.
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, a VBS crafter, a coupon clipper, a thrift store shopper, a football fan, a cook, a student of the Bible and an avid reader.