By Victor Knowles
Hazel Miner, 15, was an 8th-grade student in a one-room school at Center, North Dakota. On March 15, 1920, the teacher dismissed school early because of a sudden spring blizzard. Hazel, her 10-year-old brother Emmet, and her 8-year-old sister Myrdith headed for home in a buggy. But the buggy overturned and the children soon became disoriented in the swirling snow.
Hazel placed herself over her little brother and sister to protect them from the howling wind and plunging temperature. They sang “America the Beautiful” and prayed the Lord’s Prayer together. Hazel kept talking to the children and made them promise her that they would stay alive.
When rescuers found the three children the next morning, Hazel was dead, but the two children were alive, thanks to the sacrificial love of their sister. As news spread of the young girl’s bravery, Hazel Miner became a national heroine. At her funeral the minister read John 15:13, “Greater love hath no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” The minister observed, “Here and there are occasional people who by their acts and lives endeavor to imitate Christ.”
C. S. Lewis said, “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” Love is more than an ethereal emotion singers croon about and poets write about. It is more than sappy sentimentality. Love is demonstrated in practical and even radical ways. Hazel Miner understood that love is an action. Love isn’t love until it is lived—even if it costs one his or her life. Hazel lived (and died) the truth of 1 John 3:16, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
Paul prefaces the great love chapter of the Bible with these words: “I will show you a still more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31, English Standard Version). The practicality of love far surpasses spiritual gifts, miracles, healing, and speaking in tongues.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, 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 (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, NIV, 1984).
What Love Is Not
Before we can appreciate and practice love, we must understand what love is not. Love is not proud or rude. Charles Spurgeon said there are four kinds of pride: pride of race, face, place, and even pride of grace. A. W. Tozer warned about two areas of life where, in our effort to be right, we can go wrong: when in our determination to become bold we become brazen, and when in our desire to be frank we become rude. Love does not have a swelled head or a rude tongue.
Nor is love self-seeking. Love never insists on having its own way. Love knows nothing of the “me-first” mentality. Nor is love easily angered. Love is not “touchy-touchy” and does not fly off the handle. Dr. James Dobson said, “Satan’s most successful maneuver in churches and Christian organizations is to get people angry at one another, to attack and insult our brothers and sisters, thus splitting the body of Christ.”
What Love Does Not Do
Love does not envy or boast. Someone has said, “There are only two kinds of people: millionaires and those who wish they were.” Love does not envy. Nor does it parade about with self as the drum major. Love does not strut its stuff on stage. Too many worship services have become showcases for personal performances. I cannot imagine Jesus or his followers putting themselves on parade.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. In the Greek language the phrase conveys the idea of entering an item in a ledger so it won’t be forgotten. Some people don’t want to forget a wrong and so they keep a “diary of the damned.” Robert Browning wrote of a “sully, sullen dame” who nursed her wrath to keep it warm.
Love does not delight in evil. This almost goes without saying, yet Paul found it necessary to warn believes about rejoicing in iniquity or taking pleasure in those who practice evil (Romans 1:29-32). What brings you pleasure is an indicator of your spiritual level. Billy Graham said, “If you love, you are not only going to ‘think no evil,’ you’re going to take your tongue and have it nailed to the cross so that you bless instead of curse.”
What True Love Is and Does
Only in the game of tennis does love count for nothing. Henry Drummond said, “You will find as you look back on your life that the moments when you have truly lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.” We truly live when we truly love others as Jesus has asked us to do. This takes time, but as Paul Tournier said, “To love is to give one’s time.” One of my instructors in Bible college, Lafe Culver, used to say, “No one can mistake love when you take them an apple pie.”
Love is patient with others. Moses lost his patience with the people of Israel and in so doing lost his place in the promised land (Numbers 20:10-12). No wonder Jesus said that in our patience we would possess our souls (Luke 21:19, King James Version). “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 14:12, NIV 1984). We must be as patient with others as God has been with us.
Love is kind. Ian MacLaren said, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” A kind word spoken or a kind deed done can make all the difference in someone’s day, life, or even eternity. I never heard my mother speak an unkind word about anyone because “the law of kindness” was on her tongue (Proverbs 31:26, New King James Version). David asked, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2 Samuel 9:1, NIV). Churches should be known far and wide for their kindness. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Love rejoices in the truth. This stands in stark contrast with those who “rejoice in iniquity” (1 Corinthians 13:6, NKJV). The Christian rejoices in truth because it is the Word of God (John 17:17) that sets us free (John 8:32). David declared, “I rejoice at Your word as one who finds great treasure” (Psalm 119:162, NKJV). We love the truth—even when it cuts us to the quick (Hebrews 4:12). Henry Ward Beecher confessed, “I never knew how to worship until I knew how to love.” Loving God’s Word leads to better worship.
“Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7, English Standard Version). Think of people when you read this. The great Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky said, “To love someone means to see him as God intended him.” Love is treating others right. We do all that we can for them, and then a little bit more.
Love is forbearing. “Bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2). Thomas A’ Kempis said, “Endeavor to be always patient of the faults and imperfections of others, for thou hast many faults and imperfections of thy own that require a reciprocation of forbearance.” Forbearance is putting up with people you feel like putting down.
Love is trusting. It believes the best about others. It is so easy to believe the worst. Why not do the loving thing and believe the best? Only Barnabas believed that Saul of Tarsus was truly converted (Acts 9:20-27). Just think how differently church history might read if Barnabas had not “believed all things” about Paul.
Love always hopes. Someone has said, “Man can live about 40 days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” Hope is the anchor of the soul (Hebrews 6:19), the inspiration for living pure lives (1 John 3:3), and the assurance of eternal life (Acts 24:15). Jesus Christ was the “blessed hope” of the early Christians (Titus 2:13) and should be our “one hope” today. Lord George Lyttelton said, “Love can hope when reason would despair.”
Love, like a good marriage, perseveres and endures to the end. The Message reads, “Love . . .
keeps going to the end.” We all have the same commission from Christ: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10, NIV, 1984). Love keeps on going to the very end. Just like Hazel Miner.
Victor Knowles is founder and president of Peace on Earth Ministries, Joplin, Missouri. www.poeministries.org
Test Your Love
Insert your name in the blanks in this passage from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and then read it out loud. Which statements do you feel most confident making? Which feel a bit hollow?
If you want a real gut-check, read it to your spouse, kids, parent, sibling, or best friend. Notice where they smile and nod. Notice when you feel your words ring false.
_______ is patient, _______ is kind. _______ does not envy, _______ does not boast, _______ is not proud. _______ does not dishonor others, _______ is not self-seeking, _______ is not easily angered, _______ keeps no record of wrongs. _______ does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. _______ always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. _______ never fails.