Limbs flailing, body plummeting, air rushing up all around me, I knew that hitting the ground was going to hurt. It was only a dream—a recurring nightmare I had as a child—but it was a terrifying sensation of having lost all control. I couldn’t stop the fall any more than I could stop the earth from spinning.
Ekpipto. It’s Greek, and I’ll bet you’ve never heard of it. I hadn’t, until I decided to investigate three simple words from 1 Corinthians 13:8 (NIV): Love never fails.
I dug into the origin of those three words and found that the word “fails”comes from the verb ekpipto, which means something worlds apart from what I originally assumed. In its most basic sense, ekpipto means “to fall.”
It can mean to perish, to fall powerless, to take no effect, to fall from, or to fall to the ground.
In a world and age where it’s perfectly normal to hear about people “falling in love,” I find it interesting that the Bible pointedly tells us, “Love never falls.”
Love Is a Choice
“I couldn’t help myself,” I heard a friend say about the man she “fell” in love with. Our culture’s entertainment spins one sweet tale after the next about people who fall helplessly in love with each other at first sight. Our world ascribes to love some mystical, intangible, magical quality—but it just doesn’t exist.
Attraction exists. Infatuation exists. Emotion exists. But real, raw love is nothing like those things.
Love is not something that happens all on its own. It’s not something we have no control over, like ever-fluctuating emotions. It’s not like an irreversible plummet from a cliff’s edge.
Love is nothing like falling. It’s a choice. It’s an action. It’s deliberate.
Love is actually like jumping.
Jumping? An intentional choice to make a move.
Here’s why that is really comforting.
1. I am loved by God.
If love does not fall, I can completely nix my fear that God will stop loving me. He didn’t fall in love with me. He did not love me by accident or chance. His love is deliberate, and if His love is unfailing—if love is His choice, and He is unchanging—I rest securely in this love.
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
“I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jer. 31:3).
2. I am enabled to love.
When we begin to truly understand how deeply we have been loved by Christ, in gratitude our natural response becomes extending that same kind of love. The love of Christ compels us to love others.
It bleeds out, spilling into the lives of the people around us.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Cor. 5:14–15).
Who in your life today is hard to love? She might drive you crazy. He might be completely self-absorbed. You might feel nothing warm and fuzzy when they walk into the room. You may see little in them that prompts you to even want to love them.
But God never promised, “I will help you feel love.” Rather He showed us how to love and commanded us to follow His pattern.
- He listened and responded when people brought Him their needs.
- He washed feet when it was “someone else’s” job.
- He noticed the spiritual and physical needs around Him and went out of His way to fill them.
- He showed kindness and compassion based on His character, not based on someone’s behavior or actions.
- He gave His life for people who did not love Him.
More Than a Feeling
Never fall into the trap of believing that love is a feeling. That’s just not true. We have no reason to wait around for love to show up in our hearts. Love is putting the needs of someone else before your own. Love is acting in the best interests of another person even when you don’t feel like it. Perhaps especially when you really don’t feel like it.
Philippians 2:4 describes love this way: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Jesus explained what loving our neighbor looks like in the parable of the Good Samaritan:
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.” . . . . And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:33–34, 37).
And in Romans, Paul zips every command of the law into one verse: “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law”(Rom. 13:8).
Despite our fluctuating emotions, God-defined love is ever at our fingertips, ever our decision to make. Ever our gift to offer.
And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Rom. 5:5).
So we look around. We see people. We notice their needs. And we choose to jump.
Because love does not fall.
- How is God’s definition of love so different from the world’s?
- In your life, what does it look like to choose to love rather than only acting in love when you feel like it?