1 Corinthians 13

This is true of me: I don’t typically make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I try and live by a motto of resolving what I want to accomplish on a particular day, a specific week, or during a particular season.

It is, however, that time of year when we reflect on the blessings of the past year, and we look with anticipation at the year ahead. And so, as you look ahead at this New Year, I’d like to challenge you to seek to live in such a way this year that every component of life—every relationship, every action, and every thought—is connected to and flows from the lifeline of a relationship with God himself so that Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 13:35 would be true of us today:

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer equated this life-giving relationship with Christ as being like the cantus firmus of a piece of music, a melody that forms the basis of a multi-layered musical composition.

Some years ago, while living in Kenya, I rewrote 1 Corinthians 13 in my own words, and today, I’ll revisit this passage yet again not only as it pertains to 2013, but to this very day, and every day.

If I speak a slew of languages, but I don’t love relentlessly, I’m nothing but a dog howling at the moon.

If I share God’s Truth with children and adults alike and have enough faith to move to foreign lands, yet I don’t have relentless love, it’s as if I’ve done nothing, and journeyed nowhere.

If I give up luxuries, opportunities, and resources to serve the poor, if I live alone beside rice paddies, but I don’t love relentlessly, I am no-one.

It matters not whether I can speak with a funny accent, pray with passion, believe without limits. Without love, my life is no more than crumbling ruins.

Relentless love never, ever gives up, even when life is tough.

Relentless love cares more whether others feel loved than whether I’m comfortable.

Relentless love doesn’t want what God hasn’t given.

Relentless love doesn’t do things to be seen or heard.

Relentless love doesn’t care about my opinion and my needs, but listens to the opinions of others, and takes it to heart.
Relentless love puts others first.

Relentless love doesn’t get angry when yet another person asks for help or misunderstands me.

Relentless love forgives, again and again.

Relentless love doesn’t rejoice when others fail.

It finds joy in truth and in seeing others discover this Truth.

Relentless love doesn’t give up, but puts up with all things knowing that it is part of God’s greater plan, and trusts that God has the best at heart. Always.

Relentless love seeks to see the best in others. It doesn’t look back and wish for better days from the past. It pushes onward, knowing that beyond this mountain, far greater things await.

Relentless love doesn’t wilt, nor dies. It’s not “on” one day and “off” another. It is consistent. You can depend on it, even though you cannot depend on things and systems, even though you cannot always even depend on other believers.

Though I don’t know or understand all at this stage, the day will come that I will understand fully. I will no longer be craving insignificant pleasures. Instead, I will grow in understanding and maturity.

Right now, I don’t see things clearly. It’s like a window splattered with mud. But the day will come that all impurities will be removed. I’ll see clearly, just as God sees me clearly. I’ll know Him as He knows me.

But for now, while we are not yet there, there are three things I can hold onto:

Trust in God, always. Believe that He is who He says He is, that He can do what He says He can do.
Let hope be the fuel that compels me to move forward: Hope in God.
And the best yet: Love relentlessly, without ever giving up, for that is the way God loved me first.


Originally published on A Life Overseas on December 28, 2012.

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