4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
8 Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
In the kids musical I mentioned in an earlier post, “Agapeopolis,” in which a boy travels to find love and fill his suitcases with it, he discovers love isn’t a tangible thing, it’s who you are. The last song in the show is called “Love Never Gives Up.” I almost like that translation better, because not failing is a really high standard.
This is a hefty list of attributes to live up to. It’s just as daunting as the Proverbs 31 woman or the fruit of the Spirit. And to end it with a ‘never’ after a bunch of ‘always’s makes it even more overwhelming. It’s impossible to never fail. It’s a little less impossible to never give up.
There are several areas in life where we all would never give up. Parenting. Keeping relationships going with our friends, parents, siblings, coworkers. Working hard at our jobs. Not giving up is an expectation of human existence. The difference between the two phrases is perspective. They’re both right – but one perspective is the reassurance of love’s power and the other is the promise of love’s persistence.
When we love others, we will undoubtedly fail. We don’t have the gift of being perfect like God (sorry to break it to you). But despite our failures, we can be persistent in our love. The good news is that God’s perfect love carries our imperfect love.
The attributes of love don’t just appear. You can’t think about them too hard or they won’t come about naturally. Just like with the fruit of the Spirit, you don’t try to accumulate those qualities on your own – you tap into the Spirit and they organically grow within you. Same with the characteristics of love. You just worry about the love part, and God will bring these qualities through you. You won’t even notice!
Love never fails. Love never gives up.
p.s. Yes, the song from Agapeopolis is stuck in my head right now.