A Gut Honest Look at Love
Lysa TerKeurst

"…if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing." 1 Corinthians 13:2 (NIV)

As the holidays approach, I have to be careful about developing an overly ideal view of love. Sometimes I'm guilty of setting the expectations so high of what a 'love filled' Christmas should be that it dooms me to feeling disappointed and grumpy. Ever been there?

Well, this year I am feeling challenged to look at love a little differently. I don't want to repeat a habit that I've had from the past where I expect unrealistic things from those I love. I used to hold out the little cup of my heart to my husband, "Will you fill my empty spaces? Will you do that one really romantic thing that makes me feel like I'm the most terrific and special woman in the world?"

Then I would hold it out to my children, "Will you fill up my empty spaces? Will you do something that makes me look really good as a mom so I'll feel a little more validated?"

Then I would hold it out to my friends, "Will you fill up my empty spaces? Will you provide something today that makes me feel more included and significant?"

Maybe Christmas is an odd time to consider such things.

Or, maybe this season celebrating Jesus is the perfect time to hit the reset button on my sometimes frail heart. Love is a tricky thing. Our hearts were created to crave it. But misplaced expectations from love can wreak havoc in a person's heart.

God proclaims in 1 Corinthians 13:8 that love never fails. And in the quietness of my heart that verse makes me squirm a bit. I see love failing all the time. Or do I?

If my only view of love is what it will give me, love from others will fail me every time. It's not that love fails. It's that other people were never meant to be my God. Even a great husband, wonderful children and a thriving ministry can never truly fill me up, right all my wrongs, and soothe those deep insecurities. Not at Christmas. Not at any other time of the year.

No, I can't read 1 Corinthians chapter 13 with eyes hungry to see what love should give me and then demand it from those around me. I should read those steadfast Scriptures with the realization that this is the kind of love God gives to me. And this is the kind of love I can choose to give to other people.

I can choose that my love will be patient. My love will be kind. My love won't keep a record of wrongs. (Ouch - that's a hard one, right?)

I can choose that my love will protect and persevere.

And I can choose to lay the cup of my heart at Jesus' feet and stop twirling, twirling, twirling...hoping- demanding- that those around me do things for me they were never meant to do.

Interestingly enough, when I read 1 Corinthians 13 again this morning I found an odd yet perfect verse toward the end of this chapter. "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me" (verse 11).

Yes indeed. How funny I never connected that verse about putting away childish things with 1 Corinthians 13 - known as the chapter of love. Oh how we have the propensity to grow in other areas while keeping such a childish, selfish view of love.

Love isn't what I have the opportunity to get from this world. Love is what I have the opportunity to give. And I guess there's no more appropriate time to remember this than Christmas.

Dear Lord, thank You for the ability to see love in the proper way. Help me to know how to be filled with Your love so I don't try to get others to fill my empty spaces. Lord, give me wisdom with each of my relationships. Make me a woman that properly lives the principals in 1 Corinthians 13. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa’s blog for some great Bible verses and perspectives on God’s love for us

Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl by Lysa TerKeurst. There are several chapters in this book on this very topic. Orders placed with Proverbs 31 Ministries today will be autographed by Lysa! Why not order one for yourself and one for a friend!

What Happens When Women Say Yes to God by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Spend some time today asking God how you can get our cup filled with Him. For me, I have to spend time reading the Bible and writing out verses where God's love for me is clearly expressed. See some of those verses posted on my blog today by clicking here.

We need to learn to live the love in 1 Corinthians 13. But this doesn't mean we enable others to treat our love with disdain. Sometimes boundaries need to be drawn in relationships to keep things healthy. Choosing love doesn't mean letting others disrespect or abuse us.

Are there some relationships in your life that need some healthy boundary lines drawn? Are there some relationships where you need to get a pastor or Christian counselor involved? Pray and ask God to reveal to you how to properly live the love described in 1 Corinthians 13 with the people in your life.

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away." (NIV)

© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

in reading the verse at the end, it struck me as interesting that knowledge will pass away, but love will not. as a bit of a "sandwich" generation person, i can see that beginning to happen in my parents as they age - they aren't as sharp as they used to be, but there capacity to love has not dwindled at all. i love how God's word is made true in life around me!

Anonymous Becky said...

Thanks Lysa, for that reminder. I especially needed it today!

Blogger Jessica said...

I definitely have trouble remembering this some days. Thank you.

Anonymous Ramona said...

Yes indeed, for soo many years & times I looked toward others, especially my husband for spaces of love that I wanted to feel more loved than any other woman with an husband. But not looking for what I already have, in God who loves me more than I love myself or how others love me. I will read 1 Cor.chpt. 13, to know how to love, and whats more important than people who "I want to love me." Thank you for sharring, I really needed to hear this this morning. The Lord has answered my questions "why I can't have" that type of love from others. Thank you again.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is one i really need to hear. today is the girls christmas party at work which i dread every year cause i don't feel good engough or that my present was right that i spent so much time picking out and it was chosen last and then cast aside. I have left in tears the three years feeling alone and totaly beneath the girls i work with. I know now that i was looking to them to make me feel special. thanks for your message and pray that at 11:30 it will be in my heart and this year i can hold my head high knowing i have gods love.......

Anonymous Eve said...

What a fantastic writing! You express the truth of these verses so well. God is the only love that can fill us, yet as humans we look to earthly ways of finding the love we already have in Him.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love this. I fell in the rut of expecting my husband to care for me and meet all of my needs, when he just was not capable of ever meeting my misplaced expectations. Don't get me wrong he is a wonderful, loving man. He just could not possibly meet the needs that God does. Once I started praying and looking to God he has just opened up the blessings and I am so thankful he is truly my fulfillment! This has enriched my marriage and made our relationship stronger. Praise to God!

Anonymous Mommy Melback said...

Loved this. I have the same expectations. This is a perfect time of year to put love in check.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this devotion. Am feeling a bit disappointed and grumpy this week, so this loving reminder is just what I needed. Blessings to all!

Blogger Annette said...

I don't know how to do this. To get my love from God. I pray and ask and still struggle with it all. I don't even know how to love myself and there is very little love from others. Maybe I just expect too much from everyone including God.

Struggling in Houston

Anonymous Thankful said...

Its interesting what you shared about the verse that talks about putting away childish things-this is exactly what I feel the Lord telling me about my love-needing to mature from "how you're not meeting me" to "how can I show God's unconditional love to you".The way? I've been claiming that very verse you wrote "The love of God has been shed abroad in our hearts..." Its already there, thanking Him for it and naming it.I appreciate the confirmation of what God has been telling me-very encoouraging. Thankful

How very wonderful. Thank you.

Blogger Unknown said...

Wonderful words.........thank you!

I have two to add ... ;)

How about "Please love the gift I give you and be so excited, so that I feel like I succeeded and did the best thing and stood in that line for a reason" ... and ...

How about "Please be nice to me when we travel to visit your home, dear relative, so that I feel liked and accepted and approved of."

Great reminder, Lysa. It's good "ammunition" for my holiday heart.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the first my employer of 13 years terminated my position. I felt as though I had let my family down in so many ways. I was at peace with the decision that they had made and prayed that their business would continue to do well so that others could stay. Being in position like this made me realize how full of love that I am. When you are stripped of material things, it makes it easy to begin to recognize what is important. I hug tighter, kiss longer and tell people I love them. God loves me well and my heart is full.

Blogger Karren said...

Thank you so much for this reminder. I've been needing this to read something like this for years.

Anonymous Lisa V. said...

I just loved this post so much Lysa. It gets to the root for me of such unnecessary discontent I've had over the years of trying to make my husband "prove" his love for me. I'm still struggling a little but slowly but surely I'm learning that "gifts" don't signify love. And what really matters is pouring your love from God on everyone else in your life and letting God's Love fill all the empty holes in the process. This is a post I've printed and will put in my bible to read over and over. Thanks Lysa.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lysa, I needed this today, at this very moment. It is totally from a different perspective from other commenters. See, my friend recently told me that I was not filling her cup. I was not being the friend she needed because I wasn't living up to her expectations. It left me totally destroyed! I was embarking on a plan, on a route that without a doubt had been orchestrated by God. I allowed God to lead me to a ministry that is fillinf my cup. God is filling my cup. While I know I can't fill my friend's cup, I can pray for and still be her friend. I know that I cannot apologize for the choices I made as I was following God's plan. I can however validate my friends feelings. I can pray God fills her cup to overflowing!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm probably wrong but it is almost as if the first Anonymous comment is for me.
God's unconditional love through Jesus gives me what I need to be happy and love myself. Without this, I have nothing to offer anyone else.
My friend did tell me he cannot fill my cup - he could not offer me the relationship we once had and I still desire. And while I am very sad and distraught, I understand. He is involved in a love relationship with another woman. But I cannot give him a piece of my heart in the way he wants me to - I cannot fill that cup for him. I have to keep my heart intact to be open to the possibility of a loving caring relationship with someone who is available to me.

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