Caring for elderly parents can provide incredible blessings but also poses significant challenges. As my 81-year-old father lay in a cancer center for two weeks, we shared wonderful and sometimes tearful conversations. During one visit, he gave my brother and I an important request. He asked that we promise to care for our mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. We knew that fulfilling our dad’s request would require time, money, and energy, but we were determined to love and serve our father and mother in this way.
As Christ-followers, we are called to love one another as Jesus loved us. We have seen how He did so in a way that not only addressed people’s spiritual needs but also their physical and emotional ones. Showing love in this way may require great sacrifice on our part. First Corinthians 13 describes a way of living and loving that goes contrary to our natural inclination to think primarily of ourselves. Paul goes into detail with a list of what Christlike love requires: “Love is patient, love is kind” (v. 4), “it is not self-seeking” (v 5). This love, agape in the Greek, is displayed in God’s unconditional, sacrificing actions toward us. He gave His one and only Son for our salvation (John 3:16), the ultimate example of healing.
This love, defined for us in 1 Corinthians 13, is sacrificial and, at times, costly. Living out 1 Corinthians 13 may come with a cost—perhaps a significant sacrifice of our time, money, or personal desires—but the healing that can result can literally be the difference between life and death. “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love” (v. 13).
>> As you read 1 Corinthians 13, list the actions and attitudes God uses to describe love. Which of these tend to be more difficult for you in loving someone? Why? Consider studying each action and attitude through a word study. Ask God to reveal to you how He wants you to respond.