The Choice of Love, Part One The Soul Versus the Spirit
1Corinthians 13: 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
Life is about choices. We can look back over our lives with regret or rejoicing at the decisions we make; usually it is a mixture of both. Of all the facets of being inescapably human, romantic love remains one of the most confusing and daunting we will face. That is because it is one area that we still tend to listen more to worldly philosophy than Godly wisdom. We are inclined to Oprah-ize love or wonder what Dr. Phil says, instead of what God says. The reason we seem to get it wrong so often is that we treat love as strictly an emotion, a product of our soul. But love is also a product of our spirit even though we give it more emotional power than it rightly deserves. In fact, one just needs to look at the way we speak about love, to see the emotional control that we give it. We do not say that we have love or even feel love. No; we "fall into" love; as if it some sort of bear trap clasping around our ankles not letting us go. Love is not quicksand beloved. As with everything, God explains for us in the bible, exactly what love is supposed to be. Remember that it is the design of God that we are not to be alone. In just the second chapter of the bible, God declares this fact:
The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Genesis 2:18
So, here is the apostle Paul explaining what love is in 1Corinthians. One of the most quoted and least applied set of verses in the bible. Note first of all that the statements are all declarative. Paul does not say, " love feels kind" or "love does not feel like boasting." That is because while love is definitely emotional, there is still a choice to be made. Love is supposed to be as much a conscious decision as it is an emotional feeling. Seemingly however, we leave it all up to the whims of our emotions. We let our soul dictate to our spirit.
God is love and by choosing to be love ourselves, we are choosing to be more Christ-like. First, you must choose to be patient. It is certainly not in our nature to be patient people. We live in a microwave society where we want things done, and usually we want them done yesterday. How many disagreements in relationships are caused by impatience? Now think for a minute of how patient God has been with you. Secondly, you must choose to be kind. Sounds simple enough but it really does go against our inherent human nature, doesn't it? Why? Because to be truly kind, you must deny self and we are essentially selfish creatures. Society reinforces this selfishness with it's, "what's in it for me" mentality. Yet if you want to experience true love as God intended and not some emotional trap you will "fall into", then Paul says you need to start with patience and kindness. It is not surprising to see these attributes reiterated in another of Paul's letters:
Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12
Not only do you need to have patience and kindness, but you should be clothed in them. They should be a part of who you are. As patient as God has been with you, He has been equally kind as well. As we strive to be more Christ-like, we start with kindness and patience. This is how we start to choose to love.