Marina Abdel Malak writes: 1 Corinthians 13: What is Love? Part Two
Do you remember when last time, we discussed what love is, according to 1 Corinthians 13? To recap, we looked at this passage
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
We then summarized what St. Psaul says about love. We noted that:
-bears all things
The last issue discussed that love is kind and is not selfish. Now, let us focus on the last three points. First, love is truthful. What does this mean? That we always tell the truth? Yes, that is one way of looking at it. Loving someone means that you are truthful with them, and that you do not lie to them. But there is another meaning to this fact about love. Being truthful means not being deceptive or disloyal. In a marriage, this means maintaining your full commitment to your spouse – and no one else. In other relationships, such as that with a sibling or friend, it can mean not having any ulterior motives. This relates to the fact that love is not selfish. For example, if your best friend asked you for advice, would you be truthful and consider what Christ might say in this situation? Or, would you feel that you are too busy and give a short, quick answer that you think the person wants to hear – simply to ‘get it over with’? This too takes practice. It is, sadly, much easier to lie to others, especially if we are busy or don’t want to tell the truth. But true love means being truthful, regardless of how difficult this may be. It takes practice. One way to build the habit of being truthful is to always think before you speak. Before you say anything, reconsider if it is the truth, and what effects these words will have on the person you are speaking with, and the siltation in general.
The next point about love is that love bears all things. This is one of the hardest aspects about love. ‘Bears all things’ suggests that we must be patient. For example, what would happen if your spouse keeps forgetting to pay that bill you told them about days ago? To be honest, most of us would be angry, frustrated, and begin to yell or shout. This is quite a normal response to this type of situation. But, what if you tried to remain calm – albeit how difficult this may be. What if you expressed to your spouse that this action was hurting your feelings…perhaps that would make the situation easier? It seems that we often take our anger or frustrations out on those whom we love. Why is this? Perhaps because we know that these people truly love us and will sympathize with us and understand why we are angry or irritated. But love in its truest sense means that we too must be cognizant of this and hence manage our own anger. True and godly love is the type of love that empathizes with others and makes excuses for others. Are you angry with your friend for forgetting your birthday? Make up an excuse for why they forgot. Maybe they had a tough day at work and were too busy to realize. Or perhaps they woke up feeling ill and couldn’t call you. Remember that Christ, the true example of real love, always makes excuses for us when we sin, and He always forgives us. So, we must take Christ as our example and do the same with others.
Finally, when St. Paul notes that love endures all things, he likely meant that love doesn’t fade, even when faced with tough situations. Love does not stop, regardless of how difficult life may seem. For example, we may say that we love the poor, but when they need us, are we willing to support them with donations or food? We say that we love our parents, but when they need our help, are we willing to take time out of our own lives to assist them? True love is patient and kind. We must learn to love others without conditions. In essence, we need to learn to be patient with others and with life. Life is not predictable, but we can train ourselves to respond in situations with love, peace, and kindness. Remember that God loves us, even if we make mistakes. He loves us even when we come back to Him after forgetting about Him for a long time. Do the same with those you love – learn to endure all things, just as Christ does with us.