By worldly definition, to love means to lust, to be infatuated by, to fall in love with, to have chemistry with, to feel, and to admire. People of the world love in order to gain something in return. False love loves to be loved back. This “love” is limited by physical conditions; how someone looks, the feeling they give us, and the reward of loving.
God’s definition of true love opens up an entire realm of possibilities:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” -1 Corinthians 13:8-12
It is important to break down what God means by these powerful 12 characteristics of love.
- Patient– love is the ability to tolerate and accept delays, problems, differences, and suffering without annoyance, complaints, or anxiety. Love is gentle and understanding. Love takes the time to listen and understand.
- Kind– love is being friendly, generous, and considerate. We must go out of our way to be kind to our brothers and sisters by opening the door, asking how their day is, or sharing a smile. It is going out of our way to do favors with the expectation of nothing in return. It is extending our time, energy and thoughts onto others to make their lives better. Love is not something you get, it is something you give.
- Not envious– envy is the discontent and resentment towards others for their possessions, experiences, lives, qualities, and luck. I immediately think about social media when I reflect on this characteristic of love. We have “friends” on social media, but envy over their pictures, lives and bodies. We like their pictures for a like in return, but because we are genuinely happy for them.
- Not boastful– to boast is to talk or act with excessive pride and self-satisfaction about one’s own achievements, abilities, body, life, etc. Again relating back to social media, we put our edited, fake life on social media. Deceiving and boasting for reassurance and attention in return.
- Not arrogant– arrogance is revealing or exaggerating one’s own importance or abilities. We must not put ourselves or our own personal agenda above our brothers and sisters.
- Not rude– to be rude is being offensively impolite or ill-mannered. To prevent this we must be conscious and aware of other’s feelings and emotions.
- Does not insist on its own way– Love eliminates one’s own wants and desires. It puts other’s first.
- Not irritable– having or showing a tendency to be easily annoyed or made angry. Love does not put others down and make them feel as though they are nothing less than amazing. There will be people in this world we do not like. We can dislike someone and still love them. We must love all of our brothers and sisters. Not by their actions, but because they are children of God and made by Him in His glory.
- Not resentful– Resentment is feeling or expressing bitterness or indignation at having been treated unfairly. Love is forgiving. Love does not flip a switch when someone crosses us. Love does not keep a score card, tallying the amount of times someone does us wrong.
- Does not rejoice at wrongdoing– Love does not feed off other’s pain and suffering. Love does not celebrate when something bad happens to someone we dislike.
- Rejoices with the truth– Love wishes goodness among all people. Love wishes to extend God’s love, the truth and the light across the nations. Love works to bring all of God’s children to heaven. Love works to save. Love fights the good fight.
- Love bears all things, believes all things, endures all things– Love will always win. Love will always prevail. The light will always shine in the darkness and the darkness will never overcome it. Love will always be strong enough. Love can overcome any hardship, any battle, any difference or disagreement.