The best definition for love is found in the New Testament. If you hope to practice the love described below, be prepared for some deep transformations of your life and relationships — from the inside out.
This love stands out as anti-rivalry. It opposes resentful comparisons and prideful competition. It does not resort to envy, one-up-man-ship, gossip or vindictiveness. This is a love that protects and honors the one loved.
- is patient
- is kind
- does not envy
- does not boast
- is not proud
- is not rude
- is not self seeking (demanding its own way)
- is not easily angered (irritable)
- it keeps no record of wrongs
- is never glad about evil
- rejoices in truth
- never gives up (always protects)
- never loses faith (always trusts)
- is always hopeful (positive)
- endures all circumstances (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
“It is often pointed out that in this paragraph Paul seems best to capture the life and ministry of Jesus. So much so that one could substitute His name for the noun “love” and thereby describe love in a more personal way. After doing so, however, one does not want to miss Paul’s point, which ultimately is description for the purpose of exhortation. Perhaps that point could best be captured by putting one’s own name in place of the noun “love,” and not neglecting thereafter to find a proper place for repentance and forgiveness” (Gordon Fee, N.I.C.N.T.; I Corinthians, p.640).
Love’s final four companions
Love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres. This is love’s grand finale in a staccato of four verbs — each one all-encompassing ! (”All things”; adverbial: “In everything/always”).
“There is nothing love cannot face” (NEB). “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT). Love embraces faith and hope. It is tenacious and faithful. Love is brave and noble; it never fails — no wonder the greatest is love.
Think about it:
“Paul does not mean that love always believes the best about everything and everyone, but that love never ceases to have faith; it never loses hope. This is why it can endure. The life that is so touched by the never-ceasing love of God in Christ (cf. Romans 8:39) is in turn enabled by the Spirit to love others in the same way. It trusts God on behalf of the one loved, hopes to the end that God will show mercy in that person’s behalf” (Gordon Fee, I Corinthians, N.I.C.N.T., p. 640).
Love is what the world needs and what each person can experience through God’s love in Christ (see: Rom. 5:8; 8:38-39; Titus 3:3-6).
“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other” (I John 4:9-11)