So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
— 1 Corinthians 13:13 (ESV)
Adapted from the resource Healing the Soul of a Woman – by Joyce Meyer
Human beings crave love. When a person’s soul has been wounded, that craving for love often takes one of two forms. Some people develop hard or harsh personalities so other people won’t want to get close to them. For instance, if the wounds in a woman’s soul are related to men (or vice versa), she may make firm decisions not to trust men or not to build relationships with them at all. Others may be excessive in their desires to have a romantic relationship, to the point that they’re willing to enter one with anybody who pays attention to them. Maybe you know someone like this, who seems to go from one unhealthy relationship to the next. Or maybe you’ve been stuck in this pattern yourself, constantly thinking the next relationship will finally be the “right” one, only to find yourself disappointed.
When a person has a string of relationships that never satisfy them, two things are usually true. One, they haven’t yet found their fulfillment in God alone; and two, they haven’t yet learned what real love is. In order to stop the cycle of craving love, seeking it from a person, and being disappointed, a person’s soul needs to be healed. Part of that healing comes from first receiving God’s unconditional love, and then understanding what it really means to love and be loved by another person.
I want to share something I hope will help you in your love relationships with other people. Only God can love us perfectly, but 1 Corinthians 13, which is called “the love chapter” of the Bible, helps us understand what real love is. If someone says, “I love you,” but isn’t demonstrating the attributes of love in this chapter, you might want to think twice before believing that person and going very far in a relationship. Love is something that can be seen and felt, and it can be shown in a variety of ways. When you’re trying to discern whether someone genuinely loves you, and whether you love that person, you can use the qualities mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13 as a guide. It says that love is patient, kind, not envious, not boastful, and not arrogant or rude. It also doesn’t demand its own way and is not irritable. It doesn’t harbor resentment. Love “does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (see 1 Corinthians 13:6–7).
Love helps others; it gives and is quick to forgive. This requires intentionality and saying no to selfishness regularly. The basic qualities of love in 1 Corinthians 13 give us a great standard to help us know whether we love someone and whether they love us. Remember, only God can love you perfectly. Other people will let us down, but when we know what true love looks like, we can be wise in our relationships.
Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for the gift of Your perfect love, and for healing my heart. Please teach me how to spot real love in others, and help me love them the way You love me. In Jesus’ name, amen.