2 Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
You are not who you once were. You’re not who you were before Christ, but you’re also not who you were right at the moment He entered your life. You’re being transformed by God to be more like Him. He’s revealing more of Himself to you and as He does that, you gain more of His character. To know Him is to behold Him.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. No, each and every thing that God needs to work on in your life to give you the image of Christ is done one bit at a time. One event at a time. One circumstance at a time. One tragedy at a time. One triumph. One stint of suffering. All of it, everything that happens in your life is part of the process. It may not seem so now, but over time it will make more sense. Look back at where you were and where you are now. Think of all the things you’ve been through that have shaped you into what you’ve become. And the process is only just beginning.
The journey of sanctification is ongoing and doesn’t stop until we’re just like Christ. It won’t end in this lifetime, but it will have an impact here. As the Holy Spirit works in you, it affects your character and the fruit you bear as a Christ follower. You walk more closely with God, understanding more as He reveals more of Himself. God is glorified in you and through you.
1 Corinthians 13:8 Love never ends.
There’s one thing in this world that will never end, can never be defeated by the forces of darkness and continues on into the next life. God’s love never ends, it never fails, and there’s nothing we can do to affect His love for us. The Lord is sovereign and He will chose whom to love.
It should be noted that nowhere in all of Paul’s descriptions of what love is and is not does he ever refer to it as an emotion. Love is so far beyond just being something we feel, though we make it out to be nothing more. We talk of “falling in love” and then “falling out of love”, but that just isn’t characteristic of love at all. Love cannot be fallen into or fallen out of because it’s an action, not a whim. Loving is a choice, and we must choose to love everyday.
God’s love for us is unconditional, not based on feelings or circumstances. He chooses to love us, just as we should choose to love those around us, regardless of whether or not they deserve it. Love never fails, it can never be defeated, and it will endure forever. When God chose to sacrifice His Son on the cross to take on the punishment we deserved for our sins, love won, once and for all.
1 Corinthians 13:7 [Love] endures all things
Relationships are never a walk in the park every single day. No matter how much you love someone and they love you, there will be moments of disappointment, struggle, discontentment, and resentment. The simple reason for that is that relationships consist of human beings and human beings are not perfect. We all hurt those we love and they hurt us, whether it’s intentional or unintentional.
The truth of the matter is that far too many people these days are bailing out instead of sticking around through the hard times. It’s easy to just say goodbye rather than putting in the time and effort it takes to reconcile with someone. What no one wants to hear about love is that it takes a lot of hard work. It takes perseverance, humility, and the willingness to press on. Love is made up of imperfect people who continue to love despite their hurts and hardships.
No one was more betrayed and hurt by those He loved than Jesus. The very fact that He had to suffer the pain of the cross was due to the fact that those He created turned against Him and sinned. God had to sacrifice His own Son because His creation failed to love Him as He so loved them. But despite our rejection of God, He did make that sacrifice, paying the ultimate price to reconcile with us, His fallen creatures. Love won out because our Father was willing to do what had to be done to restore our relationship with Him.
1 Corinthians 13:7 [Love] hopes all things
Love is not just concerned with accepting things the way they are. Love always hopes for the best in everything. For the marriage that’s gone wrong, love hopes for reconciliation. For the lost soul, love hopes for redemption and regeneration. Love can’t just leave things the way they are when they’re not what God wants them to be.
When you pray for others, do you pray with the hope that they’ll see the Father come through for them? Do you pray with the hope that you’ve asked according to God’s will? When someone’s heading down the wrong path, do you have hope for them that they can be redeemed? Do you find hope in the fact that everything is working toward the purposes of God?
When Jesus, who is Himself love, came to earth to bride the gap between us and God, He brought us hope. In Him we can rest assured that all things are being held together and sustained by our Creator, who loves us and calls us according to His purposes. Love doesn’t look at this world all around us and despair. Love hopes all things.
1 Corinthians 13:6 [Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing
True love, let’s face it, is hard to live out. Never being rude, always being kind, this can be wearisome, but it’s still what love really is. Love also never takes pleasure in unrighteousness or injustice. Love never complains when someone benefits from truth and what is right, even when that person is an enemy. Because love rejoices with the truth, sometimes that means being happy for someone that you don’t think deserves for anything to go well in their life.
Put yourself in this scenario. Think about a time that someone reaped a consequence of their own actions and you delighted in knowing that they got what was coming to them. You can admit to doing it, all of us have at some point. You, whether you knew it or not, were condoning the wrongdoing because you praised the results. That’s not love.
Love, instead, would mourn that the person had made an unwise choice and saw things play out badly. Love would seek to bring the person to righteousness through truth. Then, when truth spoke into that person’s life, someone who loves them would be glad for them. Jonah didn’t get this one right. When he preached to the people of Ninevah, they repented and turned to God (Jonah 3:10-4:1). If he loved them, Jonah would have praised the Lord that these people had been saved from destruction. But instead he grumbled because he didn’t want the Ninevites to avoid God’s wrath. He would have rather they fall because of all their past sins. He didn’t know how to delight in truth.
1 Corinthians 13:5 …[Love] is not… resentful.
Answer this one question: Does it ever do anyone any good to carry resentment? If someone has wronged you, and no doubt someone has at some point, it accomplishes very little to keep track of all of the things they’ve done to you. They certainly don’t benefit from the fact that you’re holding a grudge and there’s no good in it for you either.
Love is so quick to forgive. True love is incapable of keeping a list of wrongs because past hurts and mistakes have been forgiven, stricken from the record. That doesn’t mean we’ll necessarily forget what happened, that’s almost impossible, but it means that whatever happened in the past won’t be used against the person who did the hurting.
With love between two people, resentment has no grounds to thrive. When it does dwell in someone’s heart, love has no room and it diminishes. Both just can’t coexist. Either you love someone or you resent them and want them to pay for their past actions. Choose love and everyone will win in the end.
1 Corinithians 13:5 [Love] is not irritable.
Love is patient. So why reiterate the same basic point by saying that love is not easily angered (or irritable)? Quite simply, because it’s that much of an issue. It’s that important because we have to really be conscious of this in order to be effective at loving other people.
With Jesus as our example, take a look at how He reacted to the sometimes whiny, often very hard-headed disciples with whom He spent a great deal of His time. Be honest, most of us, were we in Jesus’ place, would have gotten angry very early on with some of the things He put up with. But because He loved them, He showed them patience and kindness. He answered their silly questions and taught them lessons to help them grow more mature. He had compassion for them.
The only way to really have this kind of compassion for someone is to have some empathy – try to feel what they’re feeling. Most of the time if you can empathize, anger is not going to flare up quite so easily. It’s really not about controlling anger, it’s about considering others.
1 Corinthians 13:4,5 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
In regards to love, being rude is closely related to some of the other things Paul lists in his description of what love is and is not. Boasting, for example, is a way of acting rude. Being kind, however, cannot coexist with being rude. They are not compatible.
Suffice it to say, a lot has already been covered about this topic, but an specific area for consideration is sarcasm. Some people may think that sarcasm is not unkind. To them it’s just funny and the other person knows they’re joking. Some of us have a real tendency to lean on sarcasm rather than just discussing something and dealing with it. This is actually a lack of respect for others, which can be hurtful. Sometimes, it’s downright belittling.
There’s something deeper behind the source of our sarcasm. Why don’t we go ahead and get up the courage to deal with it instead of taking it out on our loved ones? You’d be hard-pressed to find a truly happy married couple that speaks to each other with rudeness and sarcasm regularly. Even if it’s done in a joking manner, it does affect the person on the other end. If we love them, we won’t treat them rudely or degrade them with our words.