One of my favorite passages from the New Testament writings of Apostle Paul is in 1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. In just four brief passages he defines one of the most precious substances in the universe…love. He uses only a few words that speak volume about such an important subject. As a man well into my prime I thought I already knew about love but this passage showed me just how ill informed I was. Before you quickly glaze over the passages referenced below you might want to slow your roll down so you can digest what the words are actually saying. I cited the NIV Bible translation here but the message is equally revealing in each of them. Check it out!
“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. Love never fails.”
Now be honest with yourself. How do you compare your perception of love with what this passage states? Are you always patient and kind to those you claim to love? Do you always honor them? I could go on down the line but when I answer honestly I fall short in nearly every category. I counted sixteen traits mentioned here and only in one was I even a maybe…the rest I know I fall hopefully short, mainly because of the word… always.
Our concept of love usually comes with boundaries, restrictions, returns, or the need to get something back for what we give out. The true substance of love needs nothing in return. It is like the sun that shines. Its radiance needs no payback for what it gives. Love does not have time constraints nor does it house anything negative. In this passage Paul draws a clear contrast as to how we usually disburse love as though it was a commodity. We only issue it out on our terms as though it is something that we own. Love cannot be owned… it can only be given.
Although love never fails, we often do. I don’t say this to be judgmental but instead to separate fact from fiction or truth from perceptions. Our concept of love is usually perceived through the prism of our mind but the human brain cannot harness true love. This is because love is more akin to the substance of truth. You can’t own truth… it cast its own light. There is no darkness within its composition. Truth, like love, is actually the closest comparison to what we perceive about God. It was from the substance of love that all things were formed.
God put His essence in all things created. His essence is the very substance of creation. However because of the nature of our imperfect minds we see things through physical manifestations, which is only a perception that in many cases has no relationship with the truth: We are guided by sight, logic and reasoning rather than Spirit, truth or love.
To understand this better you would need to draw lines of distinction between physical existence and spiritual realities. The two operates very differently. They are not equal! If we see ourselves strictly as physically manifested beings only, it is natural that we would adhere to the laws of science, reciprocity, or Newton’s law; which states that for every action there has to be an equal and opposite reaction; or even the yin versus yang theory. To the mind every positive attribute has to have a negative counter balance in the universe. Yes, all these are the laws that govern the natural world but they do not govern the supernatural realm or the world of spirit. Certainly they do not govern God and GOD IS LOVE.
For example God created all things in the physical realm and established the rules of which they would be governed. But the Creator/God of all things is not subject to what was created. He stands above it, Lords over it, and in all ways is superior to it. If you can’t understand or draw a distinction between the two realities then it is difficult to conceive of God. God can only be grasped as God IS, in sprit and in truth. If you are trying to use your mind to understand the notion of God, that would be a problem. It would also limit your ability to grasp true love because of the expectations of there being some sort of balancing return. This expectation is created in the mind and true love is not bound by the rules that the mind follows. It stands outside mental restrictions and exists in the realm where God live.
Now that I have used my geek impersonation skills, we can get back to the simplicity of the message that Paul wrote. Love is patient. It has eternity on its side but in our physical bodies we have a set time. Love is kind… always! It has no envy nor does it boast about what it offers. Being proud is an emotion that attaches to the self and love does not belong to anyone. Although you can like someone and choose to dishonor them, that is not true regarding love.
Dishonor and love and like fire and water, the two can’t fit in the same space. Love is not self-seeking because again, it does not belong to anyone. It is not easily angered but as you may know, even God can be angered but anger does not own God. It is like using a hammer to nail something but you are not the hammer. Because of this it keeps no records of wrongs but forgives when warranted or forgotten leaving wrongs to die alone in isolation. Love and evil are not compatible but it rejoices with truth because in it…love sees God. Love, truth and God can fit in the same space, at the same time. They are essentially interchangeable, with God being superior to all.
Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. This passage needs no explaining. You could replace the word love with the word God or truth at the start each of these remaining traits that always protects, trusts, hopes or perseveres. Things that are physical will eventually cease to exist but that is not true about God, truth nor love, because all are the substance from which God made everything. This is what Paul was sharing with us in this scriptural passage. But please digest the message slowly beyond just the mere words. Allow the words to sink into your heart and it will instantly recognize it as divine Father. LOVE IS… GOD IS… It is the substance from which ALL things were all made…