What do you think of when you hear the phrase, “Love never fails?”
Does it bring to mind some previous bad experience with someone who professed love but didn’t show it? Is it an encouraging thought for you or does it seem like some lame greeting card blurb that has no real truth?
How we take this message has more to do with our own perception of love than it does with the validity of the point. We can take this at face value and attempt to understand it in light of our own human experience, in which case it could be uplifting or sarcastic and hollow, or we could find the Truth in it.
Let’s look at this another way. What if we edited the phrase a bit and made it, “God’s love never fails.” Would that make a difference? Though earthly love can be awesome or painful depending on your experience, God’s love is perfect and pure and precious. God’s love is the standard by which all other behaviors claiming to be love should be judged. With God, love isn’t just a word tossed out on occasion like treats given in exchange for some preferred behavior. It is real and complete and life changing.
We’ve all heard that “God is love,” but have you thought about what that means? Often this fact is used to excuse false belief. Since God is love, He wouldn’t really make Jesus the only way to heaven, it isn’t inclusive. If I am a “good” person, a God who is love, will certainly overlook my sometimes bad behavior. God must not be real, because if He really was love, then there would be no disaster or disease or death. In truth, we have taken the prime attribute of God and made it lazy and cheap and tawdry in order to justify any number of temporary things.
God is eternal. He is unchanging. He is the only standard of right and wrong. His character is constant. His truth is rock solid. He has been the same for every generation since the creation and will be the same for every generation to come. We are the ones who waiver and waffle and wander. That’s on us, not Him. He gives us all we will ever need and He knows our need before we do. He withholds no good thing.
Because of His great love for us, He arranged a way to exchange our earthly nature for an eternal relationship. Because He loves us, He made this arrangement voluntary for us. He allows us to refuse. He doesn’t force us to join Him. We have the right to rebel. If we tell Him to get out of our lives, He will step away. His love for us doesn’t end there, though. Because God can’t abide sin, He knows where our rebellion will lead us and that isn’t okay with Him.
Sometimes He may allow bad things to happen so we see what horrors await us if we die in our waywardness. It is not in His plan for anyone to die without Christ, the only way to eternity, so He allows things that will get our attention.
If we won’t open the door to the knock, there may be a phone call that wakes us up in the dead of night. It is impossible to know how many difficulties were allowed just so one lost sheep could be found. Sometimes, in the storm, God is asking, “Can you hear Me now?” because He Is love. He is completely, utterly devoted to us in pure love that neither lessens nor ends.
We change. Our interpretations of what love is change. Culture and moods change. Thank God His love will always be the same.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
–1 John 4:7-10, NIV