First Corinthians 13: 4-7


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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not inflated. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered or quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury. Love does not delight over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things, perseveres through all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13: 4-7)

This passage is not just about Love: it is about each of us; it is about what we are each called to become and what we will each become more and more like the more we awaken and progress on our journey and mature emotionally and lose our smaller conditioned frightened self.

To really get a sense of the size of the task ahead of us who want to become more loving, simply replace the words “Love” and “it” in the above passage with your name and read it aloud.

It will show us each how far we presently (likely) fall short of the full majesty of what we can become through sustained inner work, increased mindfulness, self-honesty, real inner courage, prioritizing what really matters, and perhaps grace. It shows us each where our problem areas are, why our relationships have the difficulties they do, why we are not happier and more alive and living more graciously and less anxiously and less stressfully.

As a dear friend of mine wrote to me in a moment of raw candor and tremendous honesty, “In order to have a truly loving relationship, I have to become the type of person capable of inhabiting such a relationship. . . . I need to change and become one with God and let myself be purified. I need to let myself be confronted with what I am—both my best and my worst—by a true mirror. I need to give up my selfish, impulsive, self-centered, emotionally reactive ways of being in the world. When the going gets tough I have to stop falling back on whatever is easiest and I have to stop running away and emotionally distancing myself. I have to learn better ways of dealing with myself and my emotions and stress, anxiety, fear and life’s difficulties. I have to become truly willing, receptive, humble, and ready to make that commitment to myself and my growth.”

My sense is that this is pretty much the same size of the task that is ahead for each of us if we are sincere about truly wanting to grow and become more genuinely Loving and grow into our full stature as human beings. I know it is for me. Yet this is what truly being an adult is all about: being able to love this deeply and consistently and widely, and having the courage and willingness to take this journey.

After all, what else is there really to do in life that is really as meaningful and worthwhile?

As the Dalai Lama wrote:

“Although attempting to create a more harmonious society and bring about more peace in the world through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way. Peace must first be developed within an individual. And love, compassion, and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace. Once these qualities are developed and sustained within an individual, then he or she is able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony and love all around her. The inner atmosphere is expanded and extended from the individual to his or her family, from the family to the community, and then eventually to the world at large.”

If we truly want to raise the level of consciousness on this planet, it begins with ourselves and with becoming a better human being, meaning ever more: patient, kind, peaceful, compassionate, resilient, honest, humble, attentive, warm, understanding, mindful, self-aware, self-confronting, courageous, and loving individual.  Every gain we make in ourselves in these areas changes not only us, but the world, for the better.

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10 Responses to First Corinthians 13: 4-7

  1. Loooove this post. The simple exercise of replacing “love” with my own name was profound for me.

    • John says:

      Hello Cadence – I’m glad you found the exercise to be helpful and profound! To me this is what real personal growth is all about–becoming more, and becoming a better and more loving, kind, compassionate, courageous, patient, understanding person and dealing legitimately with our weaknesses, wounds, and whatever is unsavory in us.

      Kindest regards,

      John

  2. Walter says:

    Having read all of this it has confirmed that the changes that have taken place within myself over the last 39 months have been well worth it. I have grown.i have become a real man.

    • John says:

      Hello Walter,

      Thank you for reading and for commenting, and congrats on the changes that have taken place in you! I think that’s a huge part of what truly becoming an adult psychologically and spiritually is all about–embodying the change you wish to see . . . seeing what the world truly lacks and needs psychologically and spiritually and then becoming that type of person as best as we can. To me that’s what real personal growth is all about. And few people are really willing to do that–take themselves on and deal with what needs or ought to be changed or outgrown or righted in oneself. Most people are addicted to making external cosmetic changes and never tackling themselves. Yet that’s just what those words in First Corinthians speak to if we’re willing to substitute our own name in for the word “love”–it provides us with a checklist, a report card of sorts; it’s all about how to become a more genuinely Loving person, and we do so by becoming more kind, patient, slow to anger, more forgiving, et cetera. If we do all of these things–or at least improve in these areas–then we will also become better able to Love others as well as Love ourselves in a healthy manner. And that is what this world sorely needs more of–more of this type of love–real Love; it also needs more real goodness and virtue; as well as more solid critical thinking; it needs more men and women who treat more and more people like brothers and sisters (perhaps long lost brothers and sisters); it needs people who are willing to get to work on themselves and their characterit needs more people who are willing to take a fierce and tough-minded and honest yet compassionate look at themselves and their own behaviors and thinking and make necessary and beneficial changes.

      Thank you again, Walter, for commenting and reading, and congrats on the changes that you have made in yourself!

      Kindest regards,

      John

  3. Pingback: Why Do We Love? | What Is Real True Love?

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  6. Carrie says:

    Hi thanks for this great article on this subject that I have been thinking a lot about lately. I tell my kids 13 & 10 .. And my hubby how much I love them. And I do… Or as I just told my (awesome)hubby ” I tried to love you as much as I could today.” Real loving is pretty tough!… Can be a real challenge. My own selfish desires keep popping up… Me, me, me… Why can’t I have it … Or do it my way…. Or she has one.. I want one.
    A couple weeks ago I wrote verse 1 Cor 13:4-7 on a mirror in our home ( with an erasable marker ) so it was a constant reminder. It reminds me to be patient ( a struggle sometimes), to be kinder etc… Really hard.
    … And I’m really nice… :)

    I have learned to trust God for help reaching this level of love that he describes. I depend on Phil 4:13- ” I can do all things – ‘All things’ through Christ who strengthens me”.
    Gods word is always true. It never returns void. I love that … He does what he says.
    So it is with his love, strength & Help that I love my family every day.

  7. Pingback: First Corinthians 13: 4-7 | Irish.Loves.You. ILY.

  8. Gavin says:

    Hi Carrie,
    Where we and the world part ways is that all we do that is kind and charitable springs from that deep well of gratitude to him who loved YOU first,
    whilst all the world devises rituals, excersizes, benevelance to reach him by their own merit.
    But on this path we always fall short. Therefore we preach It is by grace and grace alone.
    You already know that your husband and kids love you right back with all your short comings.
    It is a great comfort to belong to someone unconditionally!
    Anyway that’s my 2c worth.
    God bless Carrie and John and all the readers
    Gavin

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