Impossible Love

Posted by Karlson Wong on

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:1-6 

My wife Kristen and I just started a marriage study and the first chapter was “Realise your inability to love”. One exercise was to reflect on the well-known love passage (1 Corinthians 13:4-6) and highlight what you struggle with the most. What immediately came to mind was how I have a hard time with patience and irritability.

When I reflected on my “ugly” moments with my wife and family, I recall countless instances that I just lost my temper, raised my voice, or used unloving words. I know what I am supposed to do, but when my patience runs low, irritation takes over, and love is far from me. 

When we read this chapter, we often focus on “love is patient, love is kind,” but it actually starts with Paul warning the people of Corinth about even when they use their gifts to do wonders or sacrifice to the point of death, they are nothing if they are not done with love. What a challenge!

His point is that serving God is not about what you do on the outside but how you are on the inside. It dawned on me that, most of the time, I focus on my actions and try to “white knuckle” my pursuit of being a good husband, a loving father, and even a good Christian. All the while I have forgotten that this standard of love is simply unattainable on my own. Loving well is not the same as acting lovingly. Being more loving is not an issue of behavioural change, but how your heart is positioned towards God. Loving well requires a position of humility and full dependence on God.

We know the standard, which is to love selflessly and sacrificially; but we must come to terms with our inability to do it. Our will power alone will never suffice because we are fallen. And the best we can do is to pray unceasingly for His guidance and power. 

Let’s practice impossible love by:

  • Praising God for loving us first and sending us His son; and,
  • Asking God to show us what is keeping us from loving others well.


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