I’ve always said that love is not an emotion. It can’t be… not if we’re called to love others as we love ourselves and as we love God. If that is so then we really can’t expect to love based on how we feel in the moment. Rather, we should expect to love without condition because God loves without condition.
Apostle Dr. Al Miller, Senior Pastor of Whole Life Ministries, puts it like this: “love is a covenant action. It should always seek the best welfare and interest of others, even our enemies.” If what Dr. Miller purports is true, and I believe it is, the intention behind love is not just about mushy feelings. Instead, it’s about each of us looking out for the other person at all costs, even if that may sometimes be at the expense of our own feelings, interests, and desires. If we all did this….there would be no deliberate harm or hurt towards others. I suspect too that we would take responsibility for our actions once harm or hurt occurred.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 says “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres”.
I’m sure we understand 1 Cor 13:4-7 at some intellectual level. I wonder though if we really know how this should be demonstrated. These are my ideas on how love  should be shown to others . This is by no means exhaustive. Nevertheless, it’s a good place for us to start as we evaluate the extent to which we truly are demonstrating love:
- Love is patient. Patience involves us quickly forgiving and forgetting when we make each other angry or annoy each other. It’s spending more time listening and less time talking. It’s taking the time to reason things out together. It’s agreeing to disagree when you both can’t seem to agree.
- Love is kind. Kindness is saying kind words that compliment, empower and encourage. It’s making every effort to make the other person feel good about him or herself. It’s about being thoughtful, tender and having a big heart towards each other. It’s showing concern when the other person is hurting, sad or exhibiting some other kind of negative disposition. It’s about giving to each other by virtue of our time, possessions, blessings, gifts and everything else that’s good.
- Love does not envy. To not envy means not being jealous of possessions, blessings, gifts or achievements, but instead rejoicing when the other person rejoices. It’s about wanting great things for each other. It also means not having an inflated sense of entitlement or trying to compete with the other person to show yourself more valuable than you are. In the sight of God we are all valuable: “For God does not show favoritism” [Romans 2:11].
- Love does not boast. To not boast means not bragging in order to make yourself feel and look good. It’s not seeking to be the center of attention at the other’s person’s expense. It’s about not dominating the conversation in order to exaggerate one’s importance.
- Love is not proud. Since love is not proud we shouldn’t expect to always be right. We should recognize that we have weaknesses and should know that we can be wrong. We should be willing to say I’m sorry or to compromise, even when we’re right. Not being proud is being open to the idea of asking for help rather than insisting that things be done your way.
- Love does not dishonor others. To not dishonor means to not disrespect. It means not swearing at each other, calling each other derogatory names, or saying things to intentionally hurt each other. It’s about not throwing things at each other or showing other signs of aggression. It means we don’t put each other down, flirt with other men or women, criticize each other, complain about each other or raise our voices in front of others. It means we shouldn’t repeatedly disappoint each other. It also means we should appreciate that no means no.
- Love is not self-seeking. To not be self-seeking means to not be selfish. Rather, it’s seeking to make each other happy. It’s caring for the other person more than you do yourself. It means focusing on each other’s needs and concerns and how one’s actions will affect the other person. It means not using emotional blackmail or selfish demands to get one’s own way. It means loving without condition instead of choosing to be together because of what you expect to gain from the relationship.
- Love is not easily angered. Not being easily angered means not being easily provoked or offended. It means having self-control rather than being quick to become annoyed or get into a temper. It’s about not being touchy, intimidating or confrontational.
- Love keeps no record of wrongs. To not keep record of wrongs means to not keep a log of each other’s mistakes. It means we shouldn’t hold the mistakes or sins from the past against each other or repeatedly bring them up. Instead, we should look beyond all that, expecting greater things.
- Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. To not delight in evil means that we shouldn’t gloat over each other’s guilt. That means we shouldn’t rejoice when the other person makes a mistake or is caught in sin or misfortune. It also means, however, that when one person is wrong the other needs to gently say so and help that person do better. Rejoicing with the truth means we should celebrate good behaviors and virtues.
- Love always protects. Since love always protects, we should make the other person feel safe at all times on all levels – physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and financial. We should always keep each other safe. That also requires that we stick by each other in situations of emotional, mental, physical and/or financial distress.
- Love always trusts. “Love always trusts” means not being suspicious of the person that you claim to love. It’s about not believing the worst or being skeptical about the other person. It therefore means giving each other the benefit of the doubt in every situation.
- Love always hopes. “Love always hopes” means never seeing failure or mistakes as final. It means seeing the potential in the other person and believing the best about them. It’s having hope in your future together which is dependent on the trust you share.
- Love always perseveres. Since love always perseveres it means it is unyielding. It keeps going and going. It means not giving up on each other. It’s telling each other that you’ll make it regardless of the situation. It’s the two of you believing that you will make it.
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