Movies have painted a picture to us of what they think love is but what love is definitely not. We have been deceived to think love is when you see someone and you just can’t control yourself, you feel butterflies in your stomach when you see or hear from that person, you can’t sleep or eat if you don’t hear from the person you love. Love has long been painted as perfect and built in the stars. They fail to tell us how testing love is, how patient love is, how forgiving love is, how selfless love is.
I have always sought for a scripture in the Bible that really describes love in its true state and I finally found one in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.
This scriptures explain to us what love does and doesn’t do. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7;
verse 4a) Love is patient, love is kind.
verse 4b) it does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
verse 5) It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs.
verse 6) Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
verse 7) It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Lets take a look at these four verses in more depth.
1. Love is patient: The word “patient” literally means “long tempered.” Loving patience is the ability to allow ourselves to be inconvenienced or taken advantage of by a person over and over again. It can endure evil, injury, and provocation, without being filled with resentment, indignation, or revenge.
It is that quality of self-restraint in the face of provocation which does not hastily retaliate or promptly punish; it is the opposite of anger, and is associated with mercy, and is used of God.
If you’re patient, you’re slow to anger, you endure personal wrongs without retaliating. You bear with others’ imperfections, faults, and differences. You give them time to change, room to make mistakes without coming down hard on them. Patience is necessary in human relationships because people will be slow, agonizingly slow. They’ll get on your nerves. They’ll keep making the same mistakes over and over. Therefore love has to be patient.
2. Love is kind: A kind person is disposed to be helpful. He seeks out needs and looks for opportunities to meet those needs without repayment. He is tender and forgiving when wronged. The kind person shows kindness in response to harsh treatment. Love is not macho; love is kind. Just as patience will take abuse from others, kindness will give anything to others. To be kind means to be useful, serving and gracious. It is active goodwill. It is generous. It not only desires others’ welfare; it works for it.
3. Love is not jealous: Jealousy is incompatible with love for a very good reason. Love seeks the benefit and well-being of another, so much so that it is willing to make a personal sacrifice to facilitate it. When others prosper at our expense, this is precisely what love intends. I was at a function some days back and I saw the elegant Omoni Oboli. She is one of Nollywood’s top actresses and was on a low cut looking as radiant as always. She came to the function with her husband and her son but everyone was all over her being the celebrity. Whenever I looked at her husband, I didn’t see an ounce of jealousy but of immense pride. Imagine if he was a jealous and self absorbing husband, he would get jealous at the adoration his celebrity wife got.
Jealousy is not consistent with love. Jealousy would rather prosper at the expense of the other, and so when another prospers, jealousy results where love is absent.
4. Love is does not brag and is not arrogant: These ugly twins are related. They both stem from selfishness and are the flip side of jealousy. “Jealousy is wanting what someone else has. Bragging is trying to make others jealous of what we have. Jealousy puts others down; bragging builds us up”.
Arrogance takes credit for my “success,” as though it were due to my own merit or superior efforts. Boasting is letting other people know about my success in a way that tempts others to be jealous of that success. The braggart tries to impress others of his great accomplishments in order to make himself look good. Love is humble. The humble, loving person is aware that everything he has is an undeserved gift from God (1 Cor. 4:7). So he doesn’t boast, but thankfully uses what God has given to serve others.
5. Love is not rude or self-seeking: Love is not rude. Love has good manners. It is courteous, polite, sensitive to the feelings of others and always uses tact. The reason we are not courteous, of course, is that we are thinking only of ourselves and not of others. I read of a man who was generally lacking in manners. He never opened the car door for his wife. “She doesn’t have two broken arms,” he would say. After many years of marriage, his wife died. At the funeral, as the pallbearers brought her casket out to the hearse, the husband was standing by the car door. The funeral director, who knew the husband by name, called out to him and said, “Open the door for her, will you?” He reached for the car door and then, for one second, froze. He realized that he had never opened the door for her in life; now, in her death, it would be the first, last, and only time. A lifetime of regret came crashing down around him. True love has manners. That is something that is largely lost today. But love cares about others and is mannerly. True love is not confrontational, it gives the benefit of the doubt. It seeks peace instead of putting others in their place with rudeness.
6. Love is not easily angered: One kind of patience is to be able to keep calm when other’s are angry. Love does not answer insults with anger. To provoke means “to arouse anger, a convulsion or sudden outburst.” Love guards against being irritated, upset, or angered by things said or done against it. Love does not have a hair-trigger temper. Some people make everyone around them walk on eggshells. They’re easily offended. One little thing that doesn’t go their way and “KABOOM!” They use their temper to intimidate and to punish. When you confront them, they say, “Sure, I have a bad temper. But I get it all out and it’s over in a few minutes.” So is a bomb. But look at the devastation it leaves behind! When you’re angry, usually you’re not loving.
7. Love does not take into account a wrong suffered: Have you ever dated someone that keeps record of all the wrongs you have done to them. They claim to have forgiven you but they write it down mentally and when you do something they bring it up. They would be like “remember the time in 2010 during the Easter period that you offended me by hugging your ex girlfriend too tight”. Love doesn’t keep a tally of wrongs and bear a grudge until every one is paid for. It doesn’t try to gain the upper hand by reminding the other person of past wrongs. Love forgives.
8. Selfless love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth: When you are dating someone or married to someone willing to help you lie, the person lacks character and will lie to you in the future. Landlord comes to the house to collect his rent money and you tell your wife “darling, go and answer the landlord and tell him I traveled” and your wife doesn’t flinch and goes ahead to lie for you. This same wife would lie to you without feeling bad about it. There is a fine balance to love. Although love is kind and overlooks the faults of others, it does not compromise the truth or take a soft view of sin. To allow another person to go on in sin, whether it is known sin or a blind spot, is not to seek his best; it is not love. Love will sensitively confront and correct precisely because it cares deeply and knows that sin destroys. Love rejoices with the truth.
9. Love protects: Love doesn’t broadcast the problems of others. Love doesn’t run down others with jokes, sarcasm or put-downs. Love defends the character of the other person as much as possible within the limits of truth. Love won’t lie about weaknesses, but neither will it deliberately expose and emphasize them. Love protects.
10. Love trusts: This does not mean gullibility; it does mean that love is not suspicious and doubting of the other person’s character and motives without good reason, even if his actions offended you. If trust has been broken, then it needs to be earned again, step by step. But love believes the other person is innocent until proven guilty, not guilty until proven innocent. If there is a problem, love doesn’t jump immediately to blame the other person.
11. Love hopes: It is not pessimistic. It does not expect the one loved to fail, but to succeed. Love refuses to take failure as final. It exudes a godly optimism which says, “I know you can do it, because God in you is able!” It does not ignore reality. It doesn’t close its eyes to problems. But it rests on the promises of God, that He is working all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. And so love always hopes.
12. Love endures: The word “endures” is a military word meaning to sustain the assault of an enemy. It has the idea of holding up under trial, of perseverance in spite of difficulties. It means that love hangs in there. It is not just a passive, stoic attitude. It is a positive, triumphant spirit that sticks it out.
1. What love looks like (1 corinthians 13:4-7) by Stephen Cole on www.bible.org
2. True Biblical love in action by Cooper Abrams on www.bible-truth.org