"Love never fails..." 1 Corinthians 13:8
What is love? The answer to the question is complex as the world takes the word "love" and tries to fit it into whatever situation that could also use other words such as "like", "favor" or "desire".
I can say I love pizza or any other food. I love the warm sunshine but I also love clouds and the fresh air after a rain because it evokes feelings associated with circumstances and memories. I love baby animals and flowers in the spring.
Do I actually love those things or is it gratitude I feel toward the Lord for providing things which bring pleasure?
I know without a doubt that I love my family and I know they love me in return. I am blessed to have a husband that loves me dearly. Of course he has his moments like I do when we don't act very loving towards each other. It is during those times we choose to love each other despite our actions.
Over 30 ago, we made a choice to put God first in our lives and each other second. It isn't always easy as the emotion of love the world deems necessary is absent at the moment. Instead it is the commitment we made before God that sees us through the rough times.
This week I read about John and Ann Betar who celebrated 80 years of marriage this past November. John who is 101 and Ann 97 years old grew up across the street from one another. When Ann's father arranged for her to marry another man, the couple eloped.
Now, after all those years Ann told ABC news the secret of their life together.
"It is unconditional love and understanding. We have had that. We consider it a blessing".
Unconditional love is the secret that allows love to endure anything the world throws at it. It is loving someone despite the circumstances and being able to forgive no matter what happens.
God has that perfect love and because of that love he sent Jesus into the world. There is no message more beautiful than John 3:16 which says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..."
We didn't deserve God's love but He loved us anyway.
Does any of us deserve love? If you defined love by what the Apostle Paul said, we have failed to truly love each other. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV) we read, "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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 isn't about keeping score. It isn't a game where we can say we love someone more than the other person loves us.
Love is a life-long process full of ups and downs. We need to remember that God is the author of love and the more we learn about Him, the more we love Him and in turn are able to love others.
Colossians 3:17 sums it up with these words, "And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Debra Whittington is a longtime resident of Tucumcari. Contact her at: