A lot of people are familiar with I Corinthians 13 as the “Love Chapter”. It is read at weddings and other events quite a bit. Other than John 3:16, it is probably the most recognized piece of scripture in everyday life.
The chapter talks about what love is and what it looks like. “Love is patient. Love is kind.” These things seem obvious to most of us. However, a lot of us gloss over these truths in practice. We think we are being loving but, in reality, we are being something else. For example, a parent may think they are being loving by giving their child a candy bar that he or she is craving. But, too much of this results in a sense of entitlement and the child begins demanding candy, or junk food, or later bed times. Etc… Etc…
I got to thinking about this glossed over piece of scripture the other day at work. We know that Love is patient and Love is kind but what does love look like when it doesn’t have these attributes?
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 reads:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
What is love with patience? What is love without kindness? Etc…
Love without patience is entitlement.
Love without kindness is manipulation.
Love that boasts is just pride.
Love that is self seeking is narcissism.
Love that keeps a record of wrongs is legalism.
Love that delights in evil is vengeance.
Love that doesn’t protect is apathy.
Love that doesn’t trust, hope, or persevere is fear.
Not that you can truly have Love without these things. But we try to substitute these things like it’s pasteurized processed yellow cheese food when we really want and need aged sharp cheddar. It’s a lot easier to be afraid of the future than to be brave. It’s a lot easier to give in to the demands of the world than to teach and practice patience. It’s a lot easier to love yourself (in a selfish fashion) than to love others. It’s a lot easier to tell those we love what they’re doing wrong than what they’re doing right.
So the next time you hear this passage, really listen to the worlds. Thank goodness we don’t live in a world where Love is NOT patient or Love is NOT kind.