“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” – 1 Corinthians 13:4
As this season of love is really near, we would also be going to a season of reflections about love. Our verse today is very popular for this can always be seen in quotes, in placards, in posters, anywhere in the internet, posted in some house decorations and many more. However, do we really know the meaning of this? Do we understand what we are reading and what we are quoting? Do we know why the writer wrote this and from where he got this idea?
Now, Paul wrote this chapter to address the Christians in Corinth about their horrible attitude and wrong mindset about love. Although they are Christians, they are having a hard time exercising love in the right way. They were filled with hate, pride, jealousies, selfishness and many more. So, Paul wanted to remind them about the right idea about love. Paul wanted to tell them what true love is in the reflected love that God has for us. It is such a long verse consisting of many adjectives about love that concludingly encompasses the whole being of Christ.
Firstly, love is patient. It is very hard for us to be patient at anything, especially at love. For the young people, it is very hard to wait. We have the wrong mindset of love for we thought that love can only be fully manifested through sex that is why many have come to acceptance about pre-marital sex. However, we have to remember that love is patient. At any way, sex does not define how much you love that person but if you are patiently waiting for the right time to have that, then that is real love. For love is not selfish. It does not seek only one’s satisfaction but it also thinks of the other. On the other hand, even if it is not a romantic idea, love is still patient. For love waits for the other person without any resentment or hate. Even in the midst of being hurt or mistreated, it remains patient. Indeed that love does not seek self-satisfaction but the satisfaction of others through waiting.
Secondly, love is kind. This is not just merely being polite or being good but kindness is a different angle. It is being good to others even if it does not benefit you. It is being gentle all together and being such a good person to the other people without expecting anything. Well, it still boils down to love as being selfless. For you care for the benefit of others, not for yourself.
Thirdly, Paul has separated these terms but they can just be equated to one. Love does not envy and boast and it is not proud. The Christians in Corinth were all jealous of each other. They kept on just boasting about each other’s attainment and gifts. Now, Paul wants to address that non-Christian-like attitude and reminds them that love does not envy and boast, it is also not proud. Love is demure, giving way for each other and rejoices for the success of others. As human as we are, it is indeed hard to be happy for other people’s success especially if you have not succeeded. Even if we deny that, we harbor envy and hate inside our hearts. So, God through Paul wants to remind us that is not all about those. Again, love is selfless. When you love, you don’t think about yourself but it is more about others. That is why it does not envy, because you would be happy for the other person no matter what. You would not be jealous of what they achieve. It does not also boast, but it rejoices in silence. For Christians, we should rather let God have the praises and adoration instead of ourselves. Thus, love does not boast. Then, love is not proud. Being proud or arrogant means having more confidence in oneself than others. Thus, it delimits the ability of others and refutes the other definition of love which is patient and kind. Therefore, love is not proud because it always thinks of what other would benefit than oneself. Serving over selfishness.
Therefore, as we think about all of these things, can we point out one image that could have all of these descriptions? Well, we can only think about the cross of Jesus Christ or Jesus Himself. These definitions of love can only be encompassed in the whole idea of Christ because He is love. Christ is love and He has shown us all of these. He is patient for us, for He waits for us even if He has given us many opportunities to go to Him, but He respects us, so He waits for us. He is also very kind to us for He has given Himself as the sacrifice for us even if it does not benefit Him. Now, He does not envy, He does not boast and He is not proud. He has lived in this world but has fully shown how to truly love. Jesus did not sin and by all means, He has shown us the greatest love of all. After all, Paul just mirrored Christ’s love to this verse. He has just described love through looking at Jesus.
Thus, as the season of love is very near, may we remember these definitions of love. May we not be blinded by the world’s definition of love but we should be enlightened on how God sees what love is for after all, He is the God of love. God is love. We should always remember that love is not just merely how the world defines this through sex or gifts but love is unconditional, selfless, sacrificial and irrevocable. May the God of love and grace bless us the ability to love others right in this season and even out of this season.