Practicing Love

“Practice makes perfect!”

What kid hasn’t heard this sentiment?

Loathe as we may have been to sit down and go through the notes or moves or whatever yet again, those grownups had a point. What we consistently rehearse becomes second nature to us in time.

Our culture rehearses love. Well, not love. But something disguised as love. Something that hints that God has indeed set eternity into our hearts. If our lives have been turned top-to-toe by the radical reality of Christ’s work on our behalf, of God’s love for us, we have a responsibility to practice remembering and living out genuine love for the rest of the world to see. These are the life boats on the Titanic.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, ESV)

The version of love our culture proclaims is shallow, cheap, fickle, selfish, dependent on any number of things that change like the wind. It comes (“love at first sight!”) and goes (“we just fell out of love”), leaving a trail of disillusioned souls in its wake who have nothing to run to except another broken form of love with somebody else. It eats away at our dignity like cancer, robbing us of what makes us human. This is not what love was meant to do. It’s not what love does.

Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have. Love doesn’t strut, doesn’t have a swelled head, doesn’t force itself on others, isn’t always “me first,” doesn’t fly off the handle, doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, doesn’t revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies.

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, MSG)

Although we might not sit down at the piano or drive to the ball field anymore for practice, we rehearse by listening to the radio, watching movies, and reading magazines. We rehearse by scrolling through our newsfeed and picking up the latest book. Practice has become so easy that we don’t even realize we’re doing it. Every time you take in media, you’re rehearsing the world’s way of doing things. I’m not advocating going Amish here—but let’s engage. Let’s think more deeply about the messages we encounter and point out where we see the fall and redemption at work. Let’s start practicing on purpose.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking, it is not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; it does not take into account a wrong endured. It does not rejoice at injustice, but rejoices with the truth [when right and truth prevail]. Love bears all things [regardless of what comes], believes all things [looking for the best in each one], hopes all things [remaining steadfast during difficult times], endures all things [without weakening]. Love never fails [it never fades nor ends].

(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, AMP)

Without even really trying, you’ve practiced a little cultural subversion as you’ve read this post. You rehearsed the truth. The same passage, worded differently three times, has hopefully wiggled its way a bit deeper into the middle of who you are. I highly recommend interrupting the regular course of your day with messages from Scripture. Set alarms to go off with verses you’d like to internalize. A life of love requires intentionally feeding yourself a healthy diet of truth. God is the one who sets the standard for what love is: He is love. Let’s get closer to His heart so that we’re less likely to practice the wrong things. Because practice, whether of truth or lies, makes perfect.

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