Love may be the most coveted experience in life, yet it is the most misunderstood subject. Our country is as divided as we have ever been.
Yet, the premise of love is not about agreeing on everything, but in disagreeing, we still show love to one another. The key to love is not in getting but giving. When love is motivating by what we might receive in return, we are no longer loving.
The Bible expresses over and over that true love gives.
- For God so loved the world, He gave, John 3:16.
- For God demonstrated His love for us in this, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.
Love creates the ideal environment for living, which is why an absence of love or love-betrayed can wound us deeply.
1 Corinthians 13 may be the most popular discourse on love within the Bible. Starting in verse 4, we have a concise list of what love is and what love isn’t.
Here love is defined, in positive and negative terms, as internal qualities. As we unpack this list, let’s take inventory of our lives and see where we need to increase our love capacity.
Paul begins by listing two positive traits of love: patient and kind. These two qualities are built upon sacrifice and humility, which are not inherent in our human nature.
The word patient means long-suffering, and in the context of this verse, it is the attitude opposite of hasty anger or punishment. The idea of punishment is to “close the case” on people and make a judgment about them. Instead, we listen longer. By doing this, we show we value them.
Kind in the original language is defined as not wishing bad or evil upon another.While some people are easier to be kind to than others, we are instructed to love and show kindness to all people.
Paul transitions into what love is not, and the first pair of characteristics are envy and boasting. These do not bring out the best in us nor others.
To envy and boast, we are focused on the wrong metrics. We demonstrate that our value is based on material possessions, valuing what we have or what we want. Possessions are no substitute for love.
The next pair of words to describe what love is not is arrogant and rude—what a complementary couple. Arrogance is rude. It operates in opposition to love.
“Knowledge puffs up, love builds up.” 1 Corinthians 8:1
Where there is arrogance, rude behavior is not far behind. Rude is defined as unbecoming, indecent.
In verse six, we learn that love does not rejoice at wrongdoing. Love doesn’t keep a ledger of the wrongs someone has done. Doing so will prevent you from forgiving them.
Unforgiveness isn’t an option because God has forgiven us for everything we’ve done, Matthew 6:15.
Love rejoices with the truth, not the truth as you see it, but God’s word. Love seeks to live like Jesus. 1 John 4:8 says, God is love. Therefore, love’s goal is to mold and shape you so that you become more like God.
The final qualities of love that cultivate a loving disposition in a Christian will put our will to the test.
Love bears all things.
The word translated as “bear” from the Greek is “stego,” and it means to cover. In other words, we put a lid on a person’s past. We don’t air their dirty laundry or continually remind them of what they’ve done.
“…Love covers a multitude of sins,” 1 Peter 4:8.
Love believes all things.
It believes in one’s potential. Even if they have blown it in the past, you keep cheering them on, believing the best in them. Love is an optimist.
Love hopes all things.
Hope perpetually sees the best in people. It’s a conviction that the best is yet to come. You hold out hope until there’s no time left for change to happen.
Love endures all things.
Endure comes from the Greek word, hypomone, and means to remain under. Love enables us to endure difficulties and challenges in life that might otherwise crush us.
Paul concludes with the promise that loves never ends, or also translated as fail. The word “ends” in Greek means to fall. People may let you down, but love will never fail you.
When we allow love to transform us, we see the world differently than we do without love and live differently. Choosing the path of love versus hate or vengeance will make you better, not bitter.
As Christians, we can love in all situations because the love of God lives in us. The hostility and hate we are witnessing today can only be overpowered by love.
Love will never fail you!