The gift that never ends

1 Corinthians 13:7/

Have you ever gotten a gift that wasn’t just one gift but many gifts in one container?  That’s what Divine Love reminds me of.  It’s like a Mary Poppins box that just keeps giving with no end in sight. You pull out one thing – then another – then another – then another.

The “Love Chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13, tells us about that gift.  It just keeps gifting us with descriptions about Divine Love.

1 Corinthians 13:7 tells us:

“Divine Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.  “

After studying these words: protection, trust, hope, and perseverance, I came to the realization that they all have something in common – besides being evidence of Divine Love.  They describe total unselfishness and divine stubbornness.

The idea of protection here isn’t just remembering to bring an umbrella to protect you from rain or having a car alarm system in your car to protect it from someone from stealing it.  It is the idea of grabbing on never letting go.

Have you ever seen the family dog defending its people?  It never gives up.

Have you ever had a run-in with a mama-bear (human or real bear) who felt their children were in danger?  Have mercy. . .   You will not make it out alive. She will not give up.  She will not let go.

Real Divine Love that protects others does not give up.  It doesn’t wash its hands of a problem because it is an inconvenience or an annoyance.  It grabs on and won’t let go until the harm is gone.

Along with that protection, Divine Love also trusts.  It is confident and secure because it knows the truth.  It has spent time evaluating fact from fiction – truth from lies, and it is secure in its actions.  It has put some work into the relationship beforehand to develop trust.

The gifts keep coming as we see that Divine Love is seriously hopeful.  It expects something good to happen.  It is confident in the future.  It gains some of that confidence because it does not give up and has a confident trust.  It assumes the best instead of the worst.

Finally, tying a big bow around protection, trust, and hopefulness is a sturdy ribbon of perseverance.  It is steadfast and endures through thick and thin, sickness and health, good situations and bad.  You could even call it a stubborn love. Some have even called it a reckless love because it does not spare any expense for the loved one.

Don’t we all want to be loved like that?  Many marriage vows have been said using these descriptions of love and many marriage vows have been broken.  Why?

Well, too many times, the love we say we have for someone is not real love.  It’s a selfish fondness that makes us feel good.  It’s a relationship we want because we want to be taken care of.  It’s an emotional infatuation with what we think someone is like.  Remember this previous post about Love not being self-seeking?  Broken vows are caused by broken people expecting another broken person to fill in their cracks of their brokenness.

Given enough time and emotional and environmental agitations,  the shininess of shallow love rubs off like a cheap ring exposing the fake metal underneath.  It is not protective or trusting, or hopeful or steadfast.  It is totally self-seeking.

It is natural for all of us to seek out what makes us happy, but Jesus never tells us to do that.

He doesn’t say “find someone to love you”.  Instead, He tells us to love others.  To love others as much as we love ourselves.  He knows us well and knows that we are always seeking to be loved and cared for.  Even the most independent of us have a desire to be loved.

He fulfills the need for us to be loved by loving us so much that He paid the price for our sins with HIs life.  He gave up His throne in heaven to come down to earth to provide a sacrificial gift full of protection, trust, hope, and perseverance, and a whole bunch of other gifts.

He simply asks us to love Him with all of our ability and to love others like we’ve been loved by Him.  When we say it seems like too much of a request, He lets us know that He will do the work through us if we are willing to let Him.

We can’t love divinely – we’re not capable of it.  It’s only when we allow Him to love through us that Divine Love is spotted in us.

The more we learn about Him (Bible reading and study), the more we love Him.  The more we talk to Him (prayer), the more we love HIm.  The more we worship Him (giving of our time, money, and talents), the more we love Him.

But the opposite is true too. The more we focus on worldly things, the less our minds can comprehend the things of God.  The more time we spend trying to listen in on what social media has to say, the less tuned in we are to hear God’s voice.  The more time we spend on fulfilling our happiness quota, the less we have for God.

This beautiful gift God has given us never wears out or goes out of style.  It costs us nothing because it has already been paid for by Jesus Christ.  We don’t deserve it and we can’t earn it.  I plan on spending my whole life opening this box and discovering this gift that just keeps giving and giving.  What about you?