If you don’t like the life you’re living, allow me to point you to “the most excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31).
If you want to leave mediocrity and complacency behind to pursue a transformed life, faith and hope are important but the greatest pursuit of all is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).
Love is so great that it binds all other virtues together in perfect unity (Colossians 3:14).
But I must warn you that a life of love is not for the faint of heart. Love will deeply enrich your life and relationships, but it will first require you to put everything under its influence.
- Slow down and reflect on the nature of love.
- Let love examine every part of your life.
- Let it ask for changes as you submit to the transforming influence it requires.
The best place to go for love’s examination is to the 14 qualities of love listed in I Corinthians 13. Here is the best available description of love for humanity. A global pursuit of this love would change the world into a much better, safer and more godly place.
“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. Love never fails.” (I Corinthians 13:4-8, NIV).
This is God’s prescription for great relationships. Those who practice it minimize conflict because this love is anti-rivalry. Playful rivalry is not bad but when a relationship deteriorates, some form of divisive rivalry is involved.
- Love is patient: It is long-suffering. It restrains anger when provoked. Patience is more than passive waiting. It is active restraint that rests in God.
- Love is kind: It reaches out in good will with acts of care and concern for others. Love not only patiently forebears, through kindness, it actively pursues. Loving people are distinguished by their kindness.
- Love does not envy: It does not resent the blessings of others. Envious people engage in evil rivalry. The envier gloats over the harm or misfortune of the one envied. She delights in evil.
- Love does not boast: Love corrects the desire to call attention to one-self. A loving person is not a windbag or braggart. He does not parade himself. Love is willing to work anonymously. It needs no limelight or stage, applause or recognition.
- Love is not proud: not puffed up; not arrogant; not full of oneself. A loving person does not think more highly of himself than sober judgment dictates (Romans 12:3).
- Love is does not dishonor others: It is not rude. It is respectful of others.
- Love is not self-seeking: It does not insist on its own way. It is not self-absorbed.
- Love is not easily angered: It is not easily agitated nor easily provoked. Loving people are not hot-tempered, short-fused people.
- Love keeps no record of wrongs: Love seeks forgiveness and reconciliation. When hurt badly, this part of love is hard to practice.
- Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth: This rules out gossip, slander, and delight in the downfall of others.
The grand finale: Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.
In a staccato of four verbs enriched with repeated emphasis on how love brings everything under its influence, we learn that there is nothing love cannot face. Love is tenacious and faithful. Love is brave and noble; it never fails.
The personal nature and greatness of love takes on powerful significance when we realize that God is love. His love was put on display when He loved the unlovable – when “we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus offered a living example of love when as the Creator, He became a creature. The King became a servant; the Shepherd became a lamb; the High Priest became the sacrifice; the Sinless one was made sin for us (see: Philippians 2:3-10).
I recommend regular evaluation of life and relationships based on the 14 qualities of love in I Corinthians 13. We have put these on laminated cards for easy use. If you give me send your mailing address to me, we will send copies of these as our gift to you. (firstname.lastname@example.org)