Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13, The Bible)
The above is a familiar Bible reading at weddings, whether Christian weddings or not.
Love for each other is what brings two people to stand before a minister/celebrant/marriage officer to publicly proclaim before God and witnesses their life-long commitment to each other.
On days like Valentine’s Day, love is celebrated. Yet, love means different things to different people, doesn’t it?
The ancient Greek language, in which the above text was originally written, has different words to describe love.
Eros [eros] means merely the love of physical attraction.
Those warm fuzzy feelings.
It’s important and a wonderful gift, but if that’s all that’s being relied on, it won’t maintain your marriages or any relationship in the long run.
What’s love got to do with it? Well, not much, if eros love is all there is.
Secondly, there’s philia [filia] refers to the kind of love one has for a brother, sister, or a close friend. It too is important since we all need good friends and family connections
But even then, that love one has as friends for each other is not enough to maintain long term relationships.
What’s love got to do with it? Not much, if phileo love is all there is.
There’s another important Greek word for love, viz. agape [agaph], which means
a self-giving, self-sacrificing love that desires only the welfare of another.
a love that seeks nothing but another’s highest good.
This is the kind of love that is needed to knit together and maintain and sustain deep human relationships.
For those readers who are of the Christian faith, you will recognise this love as the type of love the Bible uses (agape) when it speaks of God’s love for us.
This is the kind of love being described in the opening text of this article - “Love is patient, love is kind.”
Patience and kindness are two qualities that must always be striven for in relationships.
There are times when this doesn’t come naturally and couples, friends, family members have to work pretty hard at being kind to each other. However, it’s worth it. There’s no greater gift that can be exchanged.
If love is patient and kind, then what is it not? Well, agape love:
does not envy,
does not boast,
is not proud.
is not rude,
is not self-seeking,
is not easily angered,
keeps no record of wrongs
In any relationship one will be tempted many times to be all these things that love is not:
envious of one’s spouse’s popularity or attention.
boastful of one’s own accomplishments, making the other look insignificant.
too proud to say, “Honey,I’m sorry; I was wrong; please, forgive me.”
May we find the grace and strength to resist these temptations to be what true love is not.
Instead, as we live out the true meaning of true love,
we will not be rude to each other, we will put the interests of our spouses before our own and we will always be willing to compromise with him or her.
we will control our temper, even when dirty socks are left on the bedroom floor; even when the tube of toothpaste is squeezed right in the middle.
we will keep no tally sheet of how many times we’ve been wronged and how many times we’ve had to forgive.
Indeed, love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
I ask again: What’s love got to do with it? Well, nothing if all we have is the watered down, degraded image of love defined for us by society.
However, if we understand true love in terms of the definition of agape, then love has absolutely everything to do with it.
Everything to do with deep, meaningful relationships;
Everything to do with strong marriages.
Do relationships face times that are stormy and challenging? Of course they do. Will times of disappointment be faced? Of course they will. When those moments do arise, may they not push us away from those nearest and dearest to us, but instead drive us to hold onto the love, the true love, that is had one for the other.
Above all, may these challenges push us to the One Who loves us more than we will ever begin to comprehend - our Gracious Loving God!