This week we celebrate Valentine’s Day. The subject of love will be discussed, referred to, and said multiple times. But what is real love? Paul in I Corinthians 13 describes love:
4Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. (I Corinthians 13:4-8).
The word “love” is no doubt one of the most used, misused, and abused words in the English language. I Corinthians 13 is affectionately called “The Love Chapter,” and for good reasons. Paul’s writing to the Church at Corinth teaches them that a Christian can have all kinds of supernatural gifts, but they come to nothing without love.
There are several characteristics of love. You can only get this kind of love from God. This is unconditional love. Love is a matter of the will, not a matter of how you feel. You don’t have to feel “in love.” Love is a choice, and love is something you do. God’s kind of love continues and grows, although your capacity to love grows. Love is not lust or like. Love is not without risks. Love sometimes demands inconvenience and being uncomfortable as a payment.
Let’s focus on Paul’s description of love:
I. Love is Patient (I Corinthians 13:4)
Love holds on through trials, arguments, bad days, bad news, storms, and hurts. Love doesn’t give up or bail out when the going gets tough. Love is willing to wait.
II. Love is Kind (I Corinthians 13:4)
“Kind” means useful, helpful, friendly, and gentle. Love doesn’t take a person for granted. Love speaks kind words, is tender, and expressive.
III. Love is Not Jealous (I Corinthians 13:4)
Jealousy destroys relationships. Love trusts and does not do anything to betray that trust. Work hard at gaining and keeping one’s trust.
IV. Love does Not Brag (I Corinthians 13:4)
Brag means to be boastful, proud, having an overestimation of one’s importance, abilities or achievements. Love doesn’t have an “I told you so” mentality. Real love is thankful and grateful.
V. Love is Not Rude (I Corinthians 13:5)
Love is polite. Love is not hateful and is sensitive and courteous. Rudeness most often expresses itself through something you do or don’t do, or something you say or don’t say. Love involves respect, honor, and being thoughtful and tactful.
VI. Love is Not Selfish (I Corinthians 13:5)
Love’s concern is for the other person. It puts the other person first. Love’s first thought is, “What can I do for you,” not “What can you do for me?” Love is not overly demanding nor does it place unrealistic expectations on someone.
VII. Love isn’t Habitually Irritable (I Corinthians 13:5)
“Irritate” means to annoy, to easily get angry. Love doesn’t do things to intentionally irritate. Love understands that some things are changeable, and some things are not.
VIII. Love doesn’t Keep a Record of Wrongs (I Corinthians 13:5)
The idea of love is understanding. Love doesn’t jump to conclusions or assume the worst. Love cuts the other person some slack. Love doesn’t assume a wrong motive.
IX. Love Communicates the Truth (I Corinthians 13:6)
Love is unwilling to let something go that could damage a relationship. Real love knows that only truth shared in a loving way can change things. Love doesn’t take pleasure in saying, “I told you so.” Be sensitive to the time and place that you must communicate a hard truth with someone. Love is honest, real, and transparent.
X. Love Protects (I Corinthians 13:7)
Love guards the other person’s body, soul, and spirit by doing things that would cause a person to grow, and by refusing to do things that would cause a person harm.
XI. Love Believes the Best About a Person (I Corinthians 13:7)
Love gives the other person the benefit of the doubt. Love ops for the most favorable possibility.
XII. Love is Optimistic (I Corinthians 13:7)
Love has hope for a God-directed future. Love believes that the best is yet to come
XIII. Love doesn’t Fold Under Stress and Strain (I Corinthians 13:7)
Love endures. It hangs in there, even under great pressure. Love believes the person is worth it. Love continues in spite of.
XIV. Love Never Fails (I Corinthians 13:8)
“Fail” is a word that pictures a flower or leaf that falls to the ground, withers, and decays. When love is real, it lasts. This promise assumes that love’s conditions are continually being met. Real love promises success.
So when you say, “I love you,” consider what that word really means. With love, practice brings peace, joy and hope. Tell your wife, “I love you” and tell your children “I love you,” and then practice the true meaning, God’s meaning, of that word. Happy Valentine’s Day!