Love: Definition or Prescription?

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,13 (NKJV)

I recently did a study of this passage which examined all these characteristics of godly, true, Christian love. It was a study that was well worth my time! But now, as I look back and think back on the study, I realize that my study missed something.

As I expounded on this passage and studied it, I failed to see is two, very important, sides: description and prescription. Scripture is not just a lens that we use to evaluate and see the world through, it is also a manual that tells us how to interact and live in this world. You see, I failed to apply this passage in my own life, and, instead, used it as only a way of recognizing and describing love.

With all Scripture, it is important to learn the lessons from it and see how they are to apply to our own lives. Three major steps to studying the Bible are: 1) Observe what is written, 2) Interpret in light of all Scripture, and 3) Apply to your own life. For so man Christians, we only go so far as step one or two, but rarely implement step three into our studies.

I challenge any Christian to change their personal Bible study methods to include all three steps outlined above. If you don’t have a regular Bible study regimen, make one. Don’t think about how much time it would take out of other things in life, because your spiritual life is what should be a top priority in your life. Do it. Actively live for Christ and not for yourself. Look for ways to honor God with your life TODAY, not tomorrow or down the road. Today could be your last; make the most of it.

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