A couple of days ago, Jason and I went to a local store to exchange some Christmas gifts. I figured everyone and his brother would be out doing the same thing or spending money they received for Christmas, but no, the store was quiet. I was surprised, but what shocked me, even more, was the fact that the store was already pulling down the Christmas decorations and stocking the shelves with Valentine’s Day goods. Seriously? Not even a week after the holidays, they felt it was time to bring in the change. Out with the old, in with the new.
That’s the way life is these days, isn’t it? Things are always changing. Seasons come and go. Styles and trends rise and fall. Relationships wither, and new ones are formed. Weight is gained, and hair is lost. Things change! But not love. Nope! According to the Bible, it never fails.
The word "fail" here means "to cast off; to fall away from; to end." Notice how Paul continued in verse 8. After stating that love never fails, he gave a list of other things that do. Prophesies shall fail. Tongues shall cease. Knowledge shall vanish away. But love remains true. It is unchanging and constant. It doesn’t give up when the going gets tough or run away when it’s not getting its way. It doesn’t end. It never falls apart.
I’ve learned a lot about love this year. Unfortunately, much of what went into my head hasn’t been lived out in my life. How do I know? Because when I examine the spiritual troubles in my life, the trail of clues leads me back to a lack of love. I never suspected that my snappy attitude and bitter remarks could be traced back to a seed of “unlove,” but when I compare my words, actions, and reactions to the principles set up in I Corinthians 13, I see that I don’t measure up. Let me show you what I mean.
1) Love is patient (vs. 4). - Hmm, patient? Sometimes, maybe, but not typically.
2) Love is kind (vs. 4). - A lot of times, yes, but certainly not when I’m tired or hungry or in a bad mood.
3) Love is not proud (vs. 4). - Ahem, well, if wanting to have the last word and insisting everyone do things my way is proud (and it is), then yep, I’ve blown it again.
4) Love doesn’t act ugly (vs. 5) - Oh, can we please stop now? This is horrible!
5) Love is unselfish (vs. 5). - How many times am I so focused on my wants and needs I ignore the needs of others?
6) Love isn’t easily provoked (vs. 5). - I was quoting this phrase to myself this morning when Jason wasn’t helping out as much as I felt he should. Why was I quoting it? Because I realized I was getting upset over nothing.
7) Love thinks no evil (vs. 5). - Gracious! Paul gets right down to the nitty-gritty here. It doesn’t say love doesn’t speak evil; it says it doesn’t even think it. So, all those ugly thoughts I’ve had rolling around in my head over this past year disqualify me from this “love category.”
8) Love rejoices in the truth (vs. 6). - Sometimes I want to hear the truth, but a lot of times, I’d rather hear something that makes me feel good. Right?
9) Love covers all wrongs (vs. 7). - Well, if it said, “Love brings up past wrongs,” I’d be okay, but love does the opposite. So, nope, I’m not quite there yet.
10) Love looks for and believes the best about others (vs. 7). - I’m just going to leave that one alone.
11) Love doesn’t lose hope (vs. 7). - It remains positive and patient, waiting and expecting God’s will to be done.
12) Love endures all things (vs. 7). - All things? Seriously? Even the annoying habits or quirky personalities? Yep, even those.
13) Love never fails (vs. 8).
It’s a tall order. And every time I read through this list of qualifications, I realize I have so far to go. So, this is my goal for the New Year. I want to learn to love the way God wants me to love. I want to become a living picture of this passage. By this time next year, I would like to look back over this list of qualifications and smile. Love doesn’t fail, and I shouldn’t either. By God’s grace, I aim to replace my daily "to-do" list with this “to-be” list. That way, it is a constant reminder of how God wants me to act. Repetition aids learning, so if I make this my daily motto and agenda, hopefully, by the end of next year, I will at least be closer to what God would have me to be.
What are your spiritual goals for the New Year?