I love pizza. I love my husband, children, and grandchildren. I love singing. I love God.
I say these with certainty, but, obviously, there’s a big difference between loving pizza and loving God.
What does the Bible say about love?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
Love your neighbor as yourself.
Love one another.
How are we to do this? And if I love pizza, what is the definition of love?
Love is a feeling, isn’t it? Sure. But love is much more than that. It is a commitment and an action.
1 Corinthians tells us, “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.”
Each one of these attributes could take a while to decipher. Perhaps we will, but for now, let’s grab a few and look at them.
If you do not act on love, it will grow cold. So, what are we to do to keep love burning?
When teaching your child to tie their shoes, patience is a virtue. You don’t take the shoe off and throw it across the room and yell at your five-year-old because it’s taking too long. You sit with him or her, and you show them and encourage them. Love is patient. I know your spouse isn’t a child, but be patient. My husband is so patient with me; sometimes, it makes me cry. I am in constant pain, and getting around right now is a slow process. He waits and helps whenever and however he can. Love is patient.
You know when someone is having a bad day. They are irritable, angry, and moody. Many times they lash out. What can you do to make things better for them? Offer to help, offer to listen, do something for them. Love is kind. Sometimes they just need space for a while. Say a prayer for them. Send them an encouragement–a card, an email, or even an emoji to show you care. Love is kind.
Your friend gets the promotion over you. Ouch. But they, like you, deserved it. Do you dis your friend? Make him/her feel bad? No, not if you love them. Love does not envy. You throw them a party. Pat them on the back. Encourage them. Love does not envy.
“I can do this better than you.” That’s not love talking. It’s pride.
“She’s not as good at that as I am.” Again, not so loving. Love does not boast.
“Love is never having to say you’re sorry.” Poppycock! If you are wrong, apologize. Love is not proud.
Love isn’t rude. It does not dishonor. I used to see so much of this on social media. (I have decided not to unfriend, but not to follow these people.) My husband (wife, boyfriend, girlfriend) did this. They are such a ______________(fill in the blank.) Terrible words, filthy words. Words not only said but are out there for anyone and everyone to see. That is not love. Love does not dishonor. Swearing at each other, calling names, pointing the finger– “I want a divorce!” over a petty argument, that is dishonor, not love. The more you hang with people who dishonor others, the more likely you will behave that way.
Having to have everything your way is not love. Love is not self-seeking.
What can I get from this person?–is not love. Love is not selfish.
I touched on the first seven characteristics of love. If you are looking at the above, thinking this kind of love is impossible or unattainable, you’re right. Without God, all of these are impossible and unattainable. These are God’s attributes, not ours. But the more we fall in love with God, the more of His character we acquire. Think about it. You hang out with someone long enough; you start sounding like them, using their vocabulary, liking and disliking the same things. You take on some of their characteristics. Kevin and I think alike often. We finish each other’s sentences, burst out with the same songs or one-liners. The more time you spend in the Bible and seeking God, communing with Him, meditating on His character, you start to show His character in the way you act and in the way you love.
Ask God to help you love as He loves. Choose one of the seven characteristics each day of the next week, and try to emulate God in that way. Love isn’t easy. It takes work. Will you join me in loving others?
Here’s the list.
Saturday – love is patient.
Sunday – love is kind.
Monday – love is not envious.
Tuesday – love is not boastful.
Wednesday – love is not proud.
Thursday – love does not dishonor.
Friday – love is not self-seeking.