Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. —1 Corinthians 13:8-10
There aren’t many things in life about which you can say, “It never fails.” A battery company claims to have a battery that never fails. Their untiring little bunny—the Energizer Bunny—goes on, and on, and on. But making a claim about something doesn’t make it so. Media commercials and reality are two different things.
The apostle Paul’s claim about love, though, is firmly rooted in reality. Love—the Bible’s kind of love—doesn’t fail. It doesn’t fail because it is of God, whose nature is to love. God’s love is different than human kinds of love. God’s love flows to people who don’t deserve it—unworthy people. It makes the ultimate sacrifice for them. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” says Paul in Romans 5:8.
When the apostle says, “Love never fails,” he’s not talking only about God’s love; he’s also talking about God’s love in us and through us. Paul is reminding us that it’s possible for us, with the love of God in our hearts, to love as God loves. Lewis Smedes defines this love as “the power that moves you to give to another person with no expectation of reward.” Such love doesn’t fail because it is not based on another person’s behavior. Human love says, “I will keep loving you as long as you meet my needs, as long as you are well behaved, as long as you live up to my expectations.” “Love that never fails” does not allow the behavior of another human being to interrupt its commitment to a life of love.
This is the way God expects us to relate to our neighbors, with never-failing love—a love that blesses, lifts, cares, and serves. There’s power in that kind of love, a power that touches people’s hearts and lives. It’s a power that flows from God to us and through us to those whom we love.
It’s energized love. It cannot be stopped. It goes on, and on, and on.
A life of love is the only life truly worth living. A life without love amounts to “nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate” (The Message, 1 Corinthians 13:1). You and I must first receive this kind of love from God. Then we are in a position to devote the rest of our lives to cultivating and freely giving this “love that never fails” to those around us.
Loving God, because of the way You have loved me, and because I have been created in Your image, my heart has full capacity to love others with love that never fails. Teach me to love well and to love more fully. Give me a deep desire to love even those who displease me or disappoint me or who are unkind or unlovely. Show me fresh ways to love others as You love them.
–Adapted from Be Jesus in Your Neighborhood (Developing a Prayer, Care, Share Lifestyle in 30 Days) by Alvin VanderGriend. This book is available at prayershop.org. Use the code CONPSP3 at checkout to receive an additional 10% discount.
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Praise God as your rock, your fortress, your deliverer, the one in whom you take refuge. Thank God that he hears and answers prayer and showers you with unfailing kindness. Confess any unfaithfulness, impurity, or deceit. Commit yourself to courageously challenging the Lord’s enemies as you are armed by his strength. Ask him to reach down and take hold of you, to arm you with strength, and to rescue you from evil powers.
Pray that God will lay a burden on your heart for one or more unsaved persons he wants you to reach out to. He does not want anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9).
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