Though we visit much and keep up-to-date on all our family news, near and far, if we do not love one another enough to be trustworthy and respectful of one another's reputation, our relationships are shallow and empty. And though we are talented and used extensively in our local church, and though we run a successful family business and are highly looked up to in the community, if we do not have peace and harmony in our home life, we are nothing. And though we are known for the donations we have made to church projects, and though we have family members in voluntary service, and though we may have a long Christian history on both sides of the family line, if we hold grudges and build barriers between family members, our good deeds profit us nothing.
Love causes us to be patient with younger ones who are just learning and who do things slowly and imperfectly, as well as with older ones who are losing their abilities. It causes us to share our possessions, our time, and our hearts. It makes us sensitive to the feelings of other family members.
Love . . .
• Does not make messes for others to clean up.
• Does not demand to have its own way.
• Does not put others down.
• Does not tease unmercifully.
• Does not argue or beg when a wish is denied.
• Does not belittle.
• Does not use unkind names.
• Does not compare family members unfavorably.
• Does not purposely irritate.
• Does not blame, tattle, or falsely accuse.
• Does not use others' possessions without asking.
• Does not pout.
• Does not use crude language.
• Does not say, "I told you so" when right.
• Does not make excuses when wrong.
• Is not loud, harsh, and abrasive.
• Is not boastful.
• Says, "Thank you," and "Please."
Love does not go on and on in describing how wrong a child was in misbehavior, nor does it look for faults in a companion. It finds no delight in criticism, accusation, or complaining about either the present or the past failures of family members. Rather, love delights in finding a job well done, giving a compliment, expressing gratitude.
Love looks for opportunities to encourage. Love bears responsibilities wisely and injustices quietly. It does its share and then looks for ways to help others, rather than parking on a recliner and grumping if more is asked.
Love trusts family members to do right rather than expecting them to do wrong. When a family member fails, love is there to help, encourage, and pray. And when failure is regular -- when a family member chooses a wrong path -- love fixes its hope-filled eyes on God to bring about change in His time, rather than attempting to force change on an unwilling heart.
Love keeps going. It refuses to give up, quit, or turn back. Love's commitment is absolute and final. It refuses even to think of divorce or unfaithfulness.
Love goes out to each family member freely without requiring a certain level of performance to earn it.
There will sometimes be a shortage of money; sometimes memory will fail; at times, we may overlook trials or blessings in one another's lives. But this will be only because we live in a condition of limitation and have only limited resources. Love itself will never purposely overlook needs. Through the years, love in a family will grow, commitments will deepen, marriage bonds will strengthen.
When I was a child, love made me feel secure, wanted, needed, and safe. When I became a man, I desired the same for my children and for my grandchildren. And as I grow older, I realize how little I know, and how much in life is out of my control -- where my children's paths will lead, what will happen when I am gone. But now I know, too, that it is not control that will make my world safe. It is love. By one thing only do I want to be known -- that is by my love, that each one of my family members can feel it, hear it, and experience it intensely.
There is faith -- that is good. There is hope -- that is even better. And there is LOVE -- it is the greatest.