“What Is Love?” is the repeated line in Haddaway’s hit 1993 dance song by that title. It raises a good question: What is love? Usually people think of love as a feeling or an emotion. They say, “I feel so in love.” But, feelings come and go. That’s why the Bible speaks about love as an action/choice more than an emotion. In the well-known “love chapter”, 1 Corinthians 13, we see laid out for us an incredible description of love:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8a – Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
Let’s break that down…
Love… is patient. Patience is the characteristic that will enable you not to retaliate and repay evil for evil. Patience is the willingness to wait for God to solve your problems. How often do we get frustrated with other people because they aren’t changing fast enough for our liking? We think, “What’s wrong with them? Why aren’t they ever changing?” But maybe we should put the spotlight on ourselves more, and ask, “Am I willing to wait for God to solve this problem?” or “Will I trust God even if they never change?” Patience!!
Love…is kind. Sometimes the best thing you can do to show kindness is to not share what first comes to your mind in a heated moment! Kindness is of course looking out for the welfare and well-being of others. What could you do to show kindness to someone this week?
Love…does not envy. Envy is when something good happens to a friend or family member and inside you feel disappointed that you didn’t get what they did. Love doesn’t do that. To help avoid envy, try rejoicing when something good happens to someone else. Write them a note. Comment positively on their social media posts. Tell them you’re praying for them (and do so!). Loves showers others with praise and blessing and finds encouraging things to say to others.
Love…does not boast. People who boast like to talk a lot about themselves in order to impress others. “I’ve done this. I’ve done that. I’ve been here. I’ve been there.” Love doesn’t do that. Do you want to know one of the best ways to avoid boasting? Ask questions! Ask people how they are doing; ask them what their hopes and dreams are; ask them what they are looking forward to; ask how you can pray for them. It will quickly take the spotlight off yourself and put the focus onto someone else!!
Love…is not proud. In their book Seeking Him, Tim Grissom and Nancy DeMoss talk about how pride is when you…
- Look at everyone else’s faults with a microscope but your own with a telescope.
- Always having to prove your right
- Have a hard time saying, “I was wrong; will you please forgive me?”
- You are always comparing yourself with others.
Love is incompatible with pride. When there’s pride, there isn’t love. When there’s love, there isn’t pride.
Love…does not dishonor others. It is not self-seeking. A relationship cannot grow if both sides insist in having their own way all the time. Marriage, for example, is intended to be a journey of learning to put your spouse’s interests above your own.
Love… is not easily angered. A bad temper can be compared to a glass vase. It’s easy to drop, but hard to pick up the pieces.
Love… keeps no record of wrongs. Few keep a written record of wrongs, but sadly some people keep a mental check list of the wrongs done to them. How many times have we brought up something and held it against someone else even though it was forgiven. That’s not love. Love means we say, “That’s forgiven and past, and I’m not going to bring it up again!”
Love does not delight in evil. Love doesn’t say, “They finally got what was coming to them.” Love doesn’t pass along information about other people’s misfortunes. “Did you hear about their mistake? What a shame.” Love doesn’t delight in evil.
Love… rejoices with the truth. Love is happy when the truth wins. Love tells the truth to others.
Love…always protects. The word protect in the Greek means to cover something. Love covers over a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8).
Love…always trusts. Someone let you down? Give them another chance. Choose to see the glass as half full not half empty.
Love…always hopes. Maybe there’s a situation that you’re in right now with someone. The relationship isn’t so good. Perhaps you feel that this person will never change. Humanly speaking that may be true. With man it’s impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). Our hope is ultimately in God. Hope in God looks at the situation and says, “Things don’t look so good now, but God I believe you can change hearts.” It’s not your job to change them. It’s your job to love them, and trust that God will change them!
Love…always perseveres. That means love doesn’t give up.
How is it possible to love like this? I’m the first to admit that I fail regularly to love like this. That’s why I need God so much. One of the names given to God in the Bible is love. 1 John 4:8 says, “God is love.” So, what that means is, as we go to God, the source of love, and draw upon his resources, he enables us love others in these ways more and more. We’ll still fail, and fall short, but we can grow to love others more and more with God’s help.
The Bible says in Romans 5:5 that “God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” Without the Holy Spirit in our life we can’t love others in these ways. There is something interesting in the original language about this. In Greek, there are many different words for love. But the one that Paul uses in this chapter when he describes the nature of love is the word agape. It is a word that the New Testament uses to describe God’s love for us, a self-sacrificing love: A love that gives and gives without any thought of what might be received in return. In order to love in that way, we need to daily go to God, asking for his love to fill our hearts, so that we might be a vehicle for his agape love to others.