Last week we celebrated St. Valentine's Day -- a time when all thoughts turn to love and sweethearts and hearts, flowers and candy. But many do not know that San Valentino was a real man who lived, probably, in the third century and was martyred sometime between 296 and 273 A.D. Legend has it that a priest named Valentino was in the bait of marrying couples in secret so the husband would not have to go to was in the Roman army. Little else is known about the man, so we use his "day" to celebrate love.
With all the spiritual principles to learn and execute as Christians, love is surely one we must never lose sight of. It must be our principle goal in life as believers. It is, after all, a command from God. And it has little to do with what the world calls love.
First Corinthians 13 provides the guidelines for walking in love because it explains what love is and what it is not. The Apostle Paul begins the chapter by discussing some of the things that Christians use to gauge the success of their relationship with God. Verses one through three talk about speaking in tongues, prophesying, understanding the things of God, having a lot of biblical knowledge, having strong faith and giving to the poor. While all these things are important and some may identify with them as believers, none of them supersede walking in love. There are people who give to the poor and prophesy, but when it comes to their dealings with others, they can be as mean as a rattlesnake!
Verses four through eight describe the characteristics of love -- things we should be striving to exemplify in our relationships with others. In these verses we learn that love endures long and is patient and kind: love is never envious and it doesn't blow up with jealousy; love is not boastful; love does not display itself haughtily. It is not arrogant and inflated with pride; it is not rude or unmannerly; and it does not act unbecomingly. Love (God's love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, because it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; and it takes no account of the evil done to it.
What an impressive set of qualities! I am sure we can all think of times where we have failed to walk in love where our treatment of others is concerned. Unfortunately, everything we do that is the opposite of love can be felt by others, and it can push them away from God. If those in the body of Christ aren't walking in love, who will be the true example?
It is my belief that the more we can practice the principles outlined in First Corinthians 13, the more the God prescribed love will become "first-nature" to us. I also believe there is no situation that cannot be overcome with the love of God ... Love never fails.