“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 never fails…”
Corinthians 13:4 (NIV)

Almost fifteen years ago I stood in a long white dress in the Catholic church where I grew up and exchanged wedding vows with my Methodist fiancé in front of my closest friends and family. We were young and in love and so ready to build a life together after a two year long distance relationship. We chose the traditional 1 Corinthians 13:4 (NIV) verse to be read during the ceremony: “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 never fails…” The verse’s author, Paul, wrote it to instruct the church in Corinth that love was the most important of all spiritual gifts, and that all other gifts were worthless if not grounded in love. My husband-to-be and I agreed that this was the verse that told us everything we needed to know about what a perfect married life would look like.

Our parents and friends must have found us adorably naïve. We thought we had it all figured out and that our love for one another was the only thing that mattered. That sentiment isn’t wrong, but it’s not the whole picture, as our concept of love has grown and changed over time.

In our first five years of marriage we had a baby, a mortgage, and weathered a major move and career change. Fast forward five more years and we had fought through long-term unemployment, added another child, and were transitioning into ministry life. In those ten years our concept of love had changed from pretty embroidered throw pillows to white-knuckles and gritted teeth. We realized that love was holding us together by its fingernails, but if we were going to survive as a family (and a ministry family to boot) we would need more than just love–we’d need teamwork.

Recently, I wrote the following verse from Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 (NLT) in a card to newlywed couple from our church: “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back to back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” I chuckled to myself that this verse is a considerable tone change from the high-minded ideals Paul had about love that were so precious to me during my own newlywed days. That’s because it was written by Solomon as he was looking back on his life, much of which was lived apart from God, and taking stock of what was most important for success.

But it’s easy to see the simple beauty of two being better than one: two makes the work load easier, the path safer, and the nights warmer. And if you read the verse closer, you see that three is even better—the more people you can bring together, the stronger you’ll be. This idea of gathering people together appeals to us in our ministry context. Because we move around every few years, we’re forced to cobble together a new support system in every new community in which we find ourselves. We’ve learned to put more chairs at the table and draw the circle wider. It’s better to multiply love than try to divide it.

Even after hearing 1 Corinthians 13:4 at nearly every wedding we’ve attended over the years, my husband and I are not very patient, or kind, or humble, or trusting. But we remain hopeful that God can change the wounded or hardened heart. And even when we’re struggling, we’re still better together.

How have your views on love changed over time?

Inspiration

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 (NLT)

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back to back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Invitation

How have your scripture verses on what you know about love changed over time?

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Christina Krost
Christina Krost is a United Methodist pastor’s wife, mother, educator, and Earth care advocate working for Faith in Place, the Illinois Affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light. She lives with her husband and three daughters in rural Illinois and blogs at 5Matches.com. When she’s not working, chasing children, or helping minister to churches she enjoys reading, writing, and sneaking fair trade chocolate in her closet so she doesn’t have to share.
Christina Krost

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