Did you ever go to one of those boardwalk arcades and see a coin-operated “Love-Test” machine? Supposedly it would tell you if you were “hot” or mediocre as a lover. It was good for a few laughs. But did you know that there is actually a love test that’s super-accurate? It comes right out of a bible passage that is so often heard at almost every wedding. And for good reason.
Since the way husbands and wives love each other is a sign of God’s love for us, focusing on a reading about love at a wedding is a really fine way of starting out married life.
But the famous passage about love from the First Letter to the Corinthians can be used as a “love test” regardless of our age or marital status. Because Saint Paul is so specific about the qualities of love, we can easily test ourselves as to how loving we really are. Some people reduce love to a mere feeling, but love really is a decision — or rather it’s a set of ongoing decisions — as to how we respond to the people in our lives.
The easiest way to take the “Saint Paul Love Test” is to take the word “love” out of the reading and to put yourself in place of that word. Try it:
“I am is patient, I am kind.
I am not jealous, I am not pompous,
I am not inflated, I am not rude,
I do not seek my own interests,
I am not quick-tempered, I do not brood over injury,
I don’t rejoice over wrongdoing
but I rejoice with the truth.
I bear all things, believe all things,
I hope all things, endure all things.
My love never fails.”
Now if you read any of those lines and find room for improvement, then the love test gives you an opportunity to pray about and figure out how to grow in a certain aspect of being a more loving person.
As Saint Valentine’s Day rolls around, it might be good to take the Love Test. Chocolates and roses cannot mask an unloving life lived the rest of the year. Frequent rude remarks can’t be papered over with a card. Quick temperedness isn’t outshined by a piece of jewelry. Lack of daily kindness isn’t healed with a gift of lingerie.
In addition to whatever physical gift we are giving to a loved one this Saint Valentine’s Day, this annual celebration is an opportunity to participate in a gift that is ongoing: deciding to change at least one way that we act toward the beloved. Whether it is increased patience, putting the other’s interest before our own, bearing with a hardship together without complaining, or letting go of a grudge, we are offered a chance to grow past wherever we were stuck without love.
This kind of gift doesn’t fade, as do flowers. This kind of gift doesn’t add calories to the diet. This kind of gift makes for a healthier, more fulfilling life with our spouses, our parents, our children, our siblings and all those we strive to love.