I keep seeing this quote that says, “The Bible says that love never fails, so if it fails, it wasn’t love.” And it is so inaccurate.
There are many types of love. There are four different words in Greek.
-Eros- physical, marriage
-Philos- warm friendship/family
-Storge- brotherly affection
-Agape- sacrificial/unconditional love of God
And this particular type of love in 1 Corinthians is referring to Agape love.
Agapē is the word that describes God’s love. We are shown examples in John 3:16, Matt. 22:37 and encouraged to love one another (John 13:34) with agapē love. Agapē is the word for love used in 1 Corinthians 13. And I believe it’s where this well meaning quote above comes from.
We are called to use the example of how God loves us as the template for loving others. Unconditionally, if possible, but not without boundaries. Humans and the world we live in are both flawed.
Someone could have loved you very much and failed you. They could have also hurt you very much because they didn’t really love you. There are no absolutes when it comes to human love.
Sometimes love walks away because it has to, think of parents giving children up for adoption because they know it’s best. And in my case, an absent father who felt it was best not to disrupt my life while I was growing up. As an adult, I can respect his perspective and the factors in his decision making. But as an adult and a mom, I cannot relate to him. It’s hard to imagine not being a present parent. I love my kids. And I don’t want to miss anything in their lives if possible. He loved me in a different way. And while I was growing up, it didn’t feel like love. And sometimes, it still feels like he failed me in some ways. But I now know that he loved me.
Another example is walking away from a difficult relationship because it’s unhealthy, toxic, etc. The perspective of the person being left in this case, might feel slighted, failed. But the other person could still love them very much.
Love isn’t a weapon. It’s also not some super glue that holds every relationship together. Love shouldn’t be used as a manipulative tool. “If you love me, you wouldn’t leave, you’d tolerate my behavior, etc.”
God’s love is the only perfect love. It’s the only love that will never fail you.
Human love can be messy. But it should feel safe and healthy. Love yourself enough to guard your heart.