Love seems to be something difficult for people to come to agreement about. We use the term in so many ways. “My first love was Adele,” “I love God,” “I love the Bible,” “A husband and wife make love,” “They had a love affair,” “I love to eat Mexican food,” “I love football,” “I love music,” “I love my friend,” “I love my girlfriend,” “I love my children,” “I love my mother,” or “I love my husband.” The word is both a noun and a verb. It is used to indicate strong affection or attachment.
We can love something – this generally means we enjoy it a lot. But if we love someone, this can mean many different things. The love of a parent for her child is different than the love of a child for her parent. The same is true if we speak of the love of a friend or a dog.
But one thing the different kinds of love for other beings all have in common: healthy love wants what is best for the object of the love.
This goes in line with what God has said.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, 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.
Love is patient. This means you don’t try to change the other person all the time. You might make a suggestion, but not try to control the other person. Love is letting the other person grow at their own rate. I’m not saying condone bad behavior or sin, but at the same time, let God work on them. Don’t try to be the Holy Spirit in their life.
Love is kind. Its amazing how people in this culture have difficulty with this. Kindness seems to be easy to show to people who do not know you. But why is it so hard to show to someone you love – particularly when you are upset? We need to strive to bite our tongues, curb our temper, not say things in anger. When we DO say things in anger, we need to take responsibility for it, own up to it, and apologize. This does NOT mean saying something like, “I’m sorry I said that, but you hurt my feelings.” It means saying, “I should not have said that. I’m sorry.”
Love does not envy. So many people are envious of those they claim to love. How can you wish the person you love did not have that thing, talent, gift, award, friend – or that you did? We need to be happy for the person we claim to love.
Love does not boast. I’ve counseled many people who have the tendency to say things like, “Well, *I* never did that,” when speaking of something they do not like. Or they say, “*I* work all day, and this is the thanks I get?” What kind of love is that? Frustration can cause people to say the meanest things, boasting about what they do or do not do. Why would you want to hurt the feelings of the person you love?
Love is not proud. This goes hand-in-hand with not boasting. If we think highly of ourselves, it has a tendency to make us look down upon others. I’m not saying do not recognize when you do things well. But remember that is it GOD who gave you the ability, or the opportunity. Give credit where credit is due. Thank people who help you. Thank the person you love, because they make you a better person. Remember, everyone has talents and gifts. Each of us has things we do well, and things we need to improve. Instead of focusing on the things you do well, recognize them, but focus on improving yourself. And focus on the things the person you claim to love does well instead.
Love is not rude. Its easy to be forgetful. Its easy to not watch what you are saying. Its easy to not think about the person you love. But this is being rude. When you make it about you, you are being rude. When you overlook the special thing the person you love did for you, you are being rude. When you talk about them in a derogatory fashion, you are being rude. When you are harsh or abrupt, you are being rude. Again, why would you want to hurt the person you claim to love?
Love is not self-seeking. This is something people in this culture have a lot of trouble with. Our culture values ‘self-made’ people. Our culture values people who walk on others to get ahead. Our culture values ambition and selfishness. But this is the opposite of love. Love does not seek what is best for you, but rather thinks of the person you love and seeks what is best for them. Love is being sacrificial, not selfish or self-focused. Love is other-focused.
Love is not easily angered. This is part of being patient. If we are patient, we will be able to take things better. We will not let the little things get to us. As my mother-in-law says, “Let the rough side drag.” Think about whether this will matter in five years, if not, then let it go. You’ll find yourself happier and so find the person you love happier.
Love keeps no record of wrongs. Don’t keep a tally of everything the person you love has done wrong or not done right. Don’t keep bringing up weaknesses or failures or sins. Don’t even focus on them. Instead, pray for the one you claim to love. Pray good things into their life.
Love does not delight in evil. Evil is what God says it is. If you love, you will not want to hurt the other person, even in frustration or anger. If you love, you will avoid the things that God has said to avoid. If you love, you will not want the other person to do something wrong or bad. If you love, you will not want the other person to sin. Nor will you take pleasure in sinning. Nor will you take pleasure in hurting the other person. So many times I’ve seen people take jabs at the person they claim to love – often in the form of a joke. But the truth is, that is not love. That is harmful and the opposite of love.
Love rejoices with the truth. Love rejoices in what God has said. Love finds pleasure in what God has said is good. Love finds pleasure in good things. Love causes one to be happy when the one you love does something well or is successful at something. Rejoicing in truth is to enjoy, find pleasure in, the word of God. Love does not lie. Love does not deceive. Love does not exaggerate. Love pays attention to the details and to accuracy, particularly when recounting something.
Love always protects. How many times have you heard someone say something bad about the person they claim to love? How is that protective? Its not. Its harmful. Love says good things about the person you love. Love stands up for the person you love when something bad is said about them. I am not saying start world war three, but I AM saying we need to defend our loved ones from people who do not love them – and sometimes even from those who claim to love them. We are also to help protect them from themselves, sometimes. We need to not allow (or at the very least condone) the ones we love to sin, if possible.
Love always trusts. When the person you love says something that is difficult to believe, give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe ask for details, or clarification. But don’t automatically doubt them. Trust in God and in your loved one’s abilities and love.
Love always hopes. so many times people get discouraged when things get hard. But we need to hope in God. We need to hope things will improve. We need to pray for them to improve. Hope for the best. It builds love.
Love always perseveres. This is a failure in our society. We think if we do not feel an emotion called ‘love’ then we can call it quits. But love is more than simply an emotion. Love is a choice. It is a choice to do the right thing. It is a choice to honor a commitment. It is a choice to do what is best for the other person. Love keeps on doing those things even when its hard.
Love is so much more than what we are accustomed to think it is. Love is a choice. Love is sacrifice. Love is wanting the best for the other person. Love is wanting them to succeed. Love is being kind, even when you don’t feel like it. Love is being patient, especially when your patience has worn thin. Love is not acting out in anger. Love is not being jealous of the other person, but being happy when good things come their way.
God created us to love. God created marriage to help us learn what it is to love. God gives us children to help us grow in a different type of love. God gives us friends for the same reason. God gives us parents to help us learn to obey – for that is what Christ said love is.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.
All these things help us learn what it is to be loved by God and to love God.