Valentine’s Day is (for many people) about love.
- But is there a way to know what love really is?
- Can we fall in love and fall out of love?
- When someone says, “I love you,” is there a way to know if he means it?
When couples want to be married, they tell me they love each other. When they want to divorce, they tell me they no longer love.
- Are we victims of love?
- Can we train ourselves to love?
- What is love?
Love is indispensable to marriage, family and community. Relationships are miserable when love is absent. But we need an objective way to understand what love looks like. In Scripture, husbands are commanded to love their wives (Ephesians 5:25); Older women are to train younger women to love their husbands and children (Titus 2:4) and communities of Christians are to be distinguished by their love for one another (John 13:35).
The best available description of love is found in fourteen qualities of love listed in I Corinthains 13:4-8. This is one of the most quoted Scriptures in wedding ceremonies. To protect true love, we should often visit this description of it.
“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!
Did you notice how love is anti-rivalry? It is protective of the one loved. It repudiates destructive conflict. Playful rivalry is not bad, but when a relationship deteriorates, some form of divisive rivalry is almost always involved. Let’s take a closer look at each quality of love.
1. Love is patient: It is bears long with others. It restrains anger when provoked.
2. Love is kind: It reaches out in acts of care and concern for others. Love patiently forebears and (in kindness), actively pursues the good of the one loved. Loving people are distinguished by kindness.
3. Love does not envy: It does not resent the blessings of others. An envier gloats over the harm or misfortune of the one envied.
4. Love does not boast: Love corrects the desire to call attention to yourself. A loving person is not a windbag or braggart. He does not parade himself. Love is willing to work anonymously. It does not need a stage. It does not seek an applause.
5. 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 permits (Romans 12:3).
6. Love is does not dishonor others: It is not rude. It is respectful of others.
7. Love is not self-seeking: It does not insist on its own way. It is not self-absorbed.
8. Love is not easily angered: It is not easily agitated nor easily provoked. Loving people are not hot-tempered and short-fused.
9. Love keeps no record of wrongs: Love seeks forgiveness and reconciliation.
10. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth: Love rules out gossip, slander, and delight in the downfall of others.
And loves grand finale reminds us that, “love always protects, trusts, hopes, perseveres.” Love brings everything under its influence — “there is nothing love cannot face” (NEB). “Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance” (NLT). Love is tenacious and faithful; brave and noble; love never fails.
Love is “the most excellent way” (I Corinthians 12:31). “These three remain: Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (I Corinthians 13:13).
Scripture reminds that God’s love was put on display when he loved the undesirable – “when we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus, the Creator, became a creature; the King became a servant; the Shepherd became a lamb; the sinless one was made sin for us; the High Priest became the sacrifice. This is love.
Let’s make a habit of evaluating our relationships based on the 14 qualities of love in I Corinthians 13.
We’ve printed these qualities of love (along with an eight point communication covenant) on laminated cards for easy use. Simply email your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send several copies to you as our gift. Ask for the love cards.