In our day and age, we have forgotten what love really is. On the one hand, we live in a culture which uses the word “love” at the drop of a hat – “I love your top!”, “Oh, I just love pumpkin pie!”, “I love it when it snows”. These statements are made innocuously, of course, and I innocently say them myself on a regular basis. Without meaning to, though, what we have done is so overused the word that we have forgotten what it actually even means. Additionally, we are inundated with romance movies, inappropriate novels, and other forms of media which so misconstrue and misrepresent love that we are left wondering what love even is anymore. Or else we simply blindly embrace the entertainment industry’s definitions of it, believing love to be all about falling head over heels for someone at first site, always buying the girl flowers or making eyes at the guy, or riding off into the sunset with no arguments or issues ever arising in one’s relationship.
None of these examples even come close to love as God designed and defined it. God is love (see 1 John 4:8), so we would do well to take our viewpoint of it from Him and Him alone. With that end in mind, we are going to take a look at the love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, focusing in on a portion of it, verses 4-8a, which is likely quite familiar to all of us. We’re going to go back to the Greek and get a full picture of just what Paul had in mind when he, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, laid out for us once and for all what love truly is. Join me as we discover the true definition of love and thereby equip ourselves to be able to lead lives where we put 1 Corinthians 13 into action in all our relationships, not the least of which being our marriages!
What Love Actually Is
Because of the nature of this site, we are going to zero in on how we can apply this passage specifically to our marriages, though I do encourage you to keep in mind how it can be applied when you come into contact with anyone, friend, stranger, and family member alike. As we go through and study this passage, I’m simply going to be asking you a series of reflection questions to help you access the level to which you are applying these truths to your own marriage relationship. So, let’s dive right in!
According to this passage we’re studying today, love…
- suffers long.
The Greek word here is “makrothymeō“ and is defined as:
to be of a long spirit, not to lose heart
to persevere patiently and bravely in enduring misfortunes and troubles
to be patient in bearing the offenses and injuries of others
to be mild and slow in avenging
to be longsuffering, slow to anger, slow to punish
Talk about a tall order, right? When your husband offends you in some way, do you hold a grudge? Do you nurse your wounds, rehash the situation over and over again in your head, and harbor bitterness in your heart? Note the definition about persevering patiently in the midst of misfortunes and troubles. If your husband makes a decision-be it financial, job-related, or otherwise-that does not turn out very well, how do you respond? Do you make him feel like a failure and an idiot or do you pick him back up, brush him off, and encourage him to get back on the path of victory, believing good will come from the situation? Are you slow to avenge yourself? Are you slow to punish him for the ways in which he lets you down?