Dear Friends in Christ:
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner in February, my mind wandered to the book the Women’s Study Group will be using from Max Lucado. I thought of another book that Max wrote around the theme of “Love”. It’s entitled A Love Worth Giving – Living in the Overflow of God’s Love. This book is pretty much based on the Love poem written by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.
I would like to share with you some words from a chapter in this book titled Love Is A Packaged Deal from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul penned, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Max picks it up from there:
"My parents were not too big on restaurants. Partly because of the selection in our small town. Dairy Queen offered the gourmet selection, and everything went downhill from there. The main reason, though, was practicality. Why eat out when you can stay home? Restaurant trips were a Sunday-only, once-or-twice-a-month event. Funny, now that I am a parent, the philosophy is just the opposite. Why stay home when you can go out? (We tell our daughters it’s time to eat, and they head for the garage.)
"But when I was growing up, we typically ate at home. And every time we ate at home, my mom gave my brother and me the same instructions: ‘Put a little bit of everything on your plate.’
"We never had to be told to clean our plate. Eating volume was not a challenge. Variety was. Don’t get me wrong. Mom was a good cook. But boiled okra? Asparagus? More like ‘croak-ra’ and ‘gasp-aragus.’ Were they really intended for human consumption?
According to Mom, they were, and—according to Mom—they had to be eaten. ‘Eat some of everything.’ That was the rule in our house.
"But that was not the rule at the cafeteria. On special occasions we made the forty-five minute drive to the greatest culinary innovation since the gas stove: the cafeteria line. Ah, what a fine moment indeed to take a tray and gaze down the midway at the endless options. A veritable cornucopia of fine cuisine. Down the row you walk, intoxicated by the selection and liberated by the freedom. Yes to friend fish; no to the fried tomatoes. Yes to the pecan pie; no, no, a thousand times no to the ‘croak-ra’ and ‘gasp-aragus.’ Cafeteria lines are great.
"Wouldn’t it be nice if love were like a cafeteria line? What if you could look at the person with whom you live and select what you want and pass on what you don’t? What if parents could do this with kids? ‘I’ll take a plate of good grades and cute smiles, and I’m passing on the teenage identity crisis and tuition bills.’
"What if kids could do the same with parents? ‘Please give me a helping of allowances and free lodging but not rules or curfews, thank you.’
"Wouldn’t it be great if love were like a cafeteria line? It would be easier. It would be neater. It would be painless and peaceful. But you know what? It wouldn’t be love. Love doesn’t accept just a few things. Love is willing to accept all things.
"‘Love. . .bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’” (1 Cor. 13:4-7 NKJV).
Max then goes on to describe the lack of morality and unity in the Corinthian church and the reason why he wrote the Love Poem from 1 Corinthians 13. He speaks about an “agape” kind of love where “agape” love cares for others because God has cared for us. “Agape” love goes beyond sentiment and good wishes. Because God loved first, “agape” love responds. Because God was gracious, “agape” love forgives the mistake when the offense is high. “Agape” offers patience when stress is abundant and extends kindness when kindness is rare. Why? Because God offered both to us.
Max ends by placing Jesus in the scripture mentioned above. Because of His “agape” love for us Jesus bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, and endured all things. Every single one. May we love one another in the same regard.
Happy Valentine’s Day!