Love never fails. — 1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV
God loves you simply because He has chosen to do so.
He loves you when you don’t feel lovely.
He loves you when no one else loves you.
Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you.
Always. No matter what.
My friend Mike tells how his three-year-old daughter, Rachel, lost her balance and hit her head against the corner of an electric space heater. After a short cry, she blacked out. Her parents rushed her to the hospital, where the tests revealed a skull fracture. Pretty traumatic for a child. Pretty traumatic for Mom and Dad. Rachel was kept overnight for observation and then sent home. She spent a couple of days understandably quiet.
But Mike knew she was okay the morning he heard her talking to herself. He was still in bed, and she was down the hall in her room. “Bear? Doggie? Sheep? Baby? Ruff-ruff?” Mike smiled. She was calling roll in her crib, making sure her friends were all present. After all, she’d been through quite an ordeal, and she wanted to make sure things were in order.
A few moments of silence passed before she continued. “Eyes? Nose? Hair? Hand? Piggy?” Having verified the presence of her friends, Rachel was now taking inventory of herself.
Suppose we follow her lead? Let’s take inventory. Let’s take stock of our relationships.
Think for a moment about the people in your world. If you want to write a few names in the margin, go ahead. Your husband, wife, kids, teachers, friends, parents, carpool buddies, coworkers. Give it some thought. Who populates your circle of the world?
As names surface, let me whisper a reminder. Aren’t they valuable? Aren’t they essential? Aren’t those relationships worth whatever it takes to keep them healthy? Granted, people can be difficult. But still, what’s more important than people?
Think of it this way. When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? When death extends its hands to you, where will you turn for comfort? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?
So what can you do to strengthen them? Following Rachel’s example would be a good start. She inventoried her hands and hair; let’s take inventory of our hearts. Am I living in the overflow of God’s love? How well do I love the people in my life? Does the way I treat people reflect the way God has treated me?
Loving people isn’t always easy. Think again about some of the people in your life whom you find hard to love. This is serious business. It’s not easy to love those who have been the source of heartache, abuse, rejection, or loneliness. Some of you wonder how you could ever love the people who have caused you such pain. So what can you do?
Conventional wisdom says that a lack of love implies a lack of effort, so we try harder, dig deeper, strain more.
But could a lack of love imply something else? Could we be skipping a step? An essential step? Could it be that we are trying to give what we don’t have? Are we forgetting to receive first?
The woman in Capernaum didn’t forget. Remember how she lavished love on Christ? Bathing His feet with tears. Drying His feet with her hair. If love were a waterfall, she’d be a Niagara.
And Simon, well, Simon was a Sahara. Dry. Parched. Hard. His arid heart surprises us. He was the churchgoer, the pastor, the seminarian. She, on the other hand, was the town slut. He’d forgotten more Bible than she ever knew. But she’d discovered one truth Simon had somehow missed:
God’s love has no limits.
God’s love meets the standard of our final passage. “Love,” Paul says, “never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8 NIV).
The verb Paul uses for the word fail is used elsewhere to describe the demise of a flower as it falls to the ground, withers, and decays. It carries the meaning of death and abolishment. God’s love, says the apostle, will never fall to the ground, wither, and decay. By its nature, it is permanent.
It is never abolished.
Love “will last forever” (NLT).
It “never dies” (MSG).
It “never ends” (RSV).
Love “is eternal” (TEV).
God’s love “will never come to an end” (NEB).
Love never fails.
Governments will fail, but God’s love will last. Crowns are temporary, but love is eternal. Your money will run out, but His love never will.
How could God have a love like this? No one has unfailing love. No person can love with perfection. You’re right. No person can. But God is not a person. Unlike our love, His never fails. Hislove is immensely different from ours.
Our love depends on the receiver of the love. Let a thousand people pass before us, and we will not feel the same about each. Our love will be regulated by their appearance, by their personalities. Even when we find a few people we like, our feelings will fluctuate. How they treat us will affect how we love them. The receiver regulates our love.
Not so with the love of God. We have no thermostatic impact on His love for us. The love of God is born from within Him, not from what He finds in us. His love is uncaused and spontaneous. As Charles Wesley said, “He hath loved us. He hath loved us. Because He would love.”1
Does He love us because of our goodness? Because of our kindness? Because of our great faith? No, He loves us because of His goodness, kindness, and great faith. John says it like
This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us. — 1 John 4:10 NIV
Doesn’t this thought comfort you? God’s love does not hinge on yours. The abundance of your love does not increase His. The lack of your love does not diminish His. Your goodness
does not enhance His love, nor does your weakness dilute it.
What Moses said to Israel is what God says to us:
The Lord did not choose you and lavish His love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! It was simply because the Lord loves you. — Deuteronomy 7:7–8 NLT
God loves you simply because He has chosen to do so.
He loves you when you don’t feel lovely.
He loves you when no one else loves you. Others may abandon you, divorce you, and ignore you, but God will love you. Always. No matter what.
This is His sentiment:
I’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. — Romans 9:25 MSG
This is His promise.
I have loved you, My people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to Myself. — Jeremiah 31:3 NLT
Do you know what else that means? You have a deep aquifer of love from which to draw. When you find it hard to love, then you need a drink! Drink deeply! Drink daily!
Don’t forget, love is a fruit. Step into the orchard of God’s work, and what is the first fruit you see?
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. — Galatians 5:22–23 NIV, emphasis mine
Love is a fruit. A fruit of whom? Of your hard work? Of your deep faith? Of your rigorous resolve? No. Love is a fruit of the Spirit of God.
The Spirit produces the fruit. — Galatians 5:22
And, this is so important, you are a branch on the vine of God.
I am the Vine, and you are the branches. — John 15:5
Need a refresher course on how vines function? What is the role of the branch in the bearing of fruit? Branches don’t exert a lot of energy. You never hear of gardeners treating branches for exhaustion. Branches don’t attend clinics on stress management. Nor do they groan and grunt: “I’ve got to get this grape out. I’ve got to get this grape out. I’m going to bear this grape if it kills me!”
No, the branch does none of that. The branch has one job — to receive nourishment from the vine. And you have one job — to receive nourishment from Jesus.
I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with Me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. — John 15:5 MSG
Our Lord gets no argument from us on that last line, does He? We have learned the hard way — apart from Him we can’t produce a thing. Don’t you think it’s time we learn what happens if we stay attached?
His job is to bear fruit. Our job is to stay put. The more tightly we are attached to Jesus, the
more purely his love can pass through us. And oh, what a love it is! Patient. Kind. Does not envy. Does not boast. Is not proud.
Let’s rewrite 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Not with your name or Jesus’ name but with both. Read it aloud with your name in the blank, and see what you think.
Christ in _______ is patient, Christ in ______ is kind. Christ in ____ does not envy, Christ in _____ does not boast, Christ in _____ is not proud. Christ in _____ is not rude, Christ in _____ is not self-seeking, Christ in _____ is not easily angered, Christ in _____ keeps no record of wrongs. Christ in ______ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Christ in _____ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Christ in _____ never fails.
Will we ever love like that? Will we ever love perfectly? No. This side of heaven only God will. But we will love better than we have.
When kindness comes grudgingly, we’ll remember His kindness to us and ask Him to make us more kind. When patience is scarce, we’ll thank Him for His and ask Him to make us more patient. When it’s hard to forgive, we won’t list all the times we’ve been given grief. Rather, we’ll list all the times we’ve been given grace and pray to become more forgiving. We will receive first so we can give later. We will drink deeply from heaven’s endless love. And when we do, we will discover a love worth giving.
Excerpted with permission from A Love Worth Giving by Max Lucado, copyright Max Lucado.
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What was your response to putting your and Jesus’ name in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8? Are you receiving and being nourished by God as His branches before you give? Come share with us on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily