Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.
Paul’s dissertation on the behavior of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, from my perspective, is the greatest instruction on love ever written. The Apostle gives specific qualities of the way we are to love one another. Although frequently used as a scripture text for wedding ceremonies, it was never intended to be used solely for the marital relationship. We as Christians are to be people who love others and herein Paul gives us the behavior of love. This is what Christian love is supposed to look like.
It is important that we take time to consider each quality of love. I liken Paul’s description to examining a fine diamond through a microscope. As you examine this precious gem, you will discover the beauty and magnificence of Christian love. This love is radiant. It sparkles. It is filled with richness and meaning. You will be blessed when you give it. And you will be gloriously blessed when you receive it. This love is truly amazing.
And so, I have an assignment for you today. Take the directives of the Apostle Paul concerning love from today’s focus text and write a few sentences that capture the meaning. Create sentences that express the way you plan to love others.
To get you started and to aid your thinking, I have shared some of my thoughts on each of these important aspects of love. It’s OK to use some of my ideas but do your best to come up with your own original statements. Prayerfully lift up each point to God and ask Him to give you thoughts that are uniquely personal and that enrich your love toward others.
Behavior of Love #1 – Love is patient
We live in an impatient society, the have-it-now and have-it-your-way generation.
I worry most about patience as it relates to couples and families. Parents yelling at their kids. Spouses growling at each other, treating one another like enemies.
Barely tolerating your wife or husband is not patient love.
To be clear, patience with our loved ones is not overlooking wrong or sinful behavior. However, it is love that doesn’t allow pettiness to erode and destroy a relationship.
I marvel at what couples become over time. In the beginning, they are happy, caring, affectionate, and love one another’s company. Gradually, they grow distant, irritable, argumentative, and easily annoyed by things that really shouldn’t matter.
One day they can’t wait to be together. Years later, they can’t wait for their spouse to be out of the house, which brings me to an important life principle. Familiarity breeds impatience AND contempt. But that doesn’t make it right. It has often been said that healthy relationships require hard work. Paul’s words are beautiful to hear but difficult to master.
Who doesn’t have an annoying co-worker or in-law? Even if they get on your last nerve, they deserve your benevolence. Put another way, show them the grace of God in you.
God puts up with us, despite ourselves. The least we can do is put up with others. As with all 16 virtues listed by Paul, some ways that I plan to apply his instruction. Then you can share your thoughts in the space provided.
Affirmations on the Love Virtue of Patience
- “I’m going to hang in there with you.”
- “It’s OK to have differing opinions.”
- “I’m not going to give up on you.”
- “Even in times when you disappoint me, I will go the extra mile with you.”
- “I will never give up on you.”
Behavior of Love #2 – Love is Kind
There’s no point in defining kindness. We all know what it means. We love to receive it, and hate when we’re treated unkindly.
But wait? Christians aren’t unkind are they?
A friend of mine shared a story of an incident in his church involving a deacon’s wife. A new family in the community visited the morning worship service and learned of a potluck supper later that evening in the church’s fellowship hall. When they returned for the meal, they brought a covered dish — that was promptly dumped in the garbage. Why? Because the visitors were black. The deacon’s wife said she was only protecting her grandchildren.
More than just unkind, that behavior was reprehensible.
Once, I was the presiding minister at a funeral. At the graveside, I also became the referee attempting to stop a physical altercation between two family members, both professing Christians.
More than likely you have some disturbing incidents you could share that demonstrate unkind behavior exhibited by those who claim to be in the faith.
But before pointing the finger of blame at others, we need to make certain our house is in order. All of us have acted or spoken unkindly. Paul reminds us we can do better.
Following are some affirmations of the way I want to express kindness to others. Then you’ll have an opportunity to make you own declarations.
Affirmations on Kindness
- “I’m here to help.”
- “I want to build you up…not tear you down.”
- “I want my words to soothe your wounds and relieve your pain.”
- “I will often do the unexpected to show I care.”
- “I won’t gossip about you or talk behind your back.”
- “I’m going to avoid moodiness because it results in unkind behavior.”
By the way, we’re not talking about selective kindness. The Biblical principle is, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
It’s easier to love those close to you. But God wants us to love others. Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them.” (Matthew 5:46)
What’s wrong with the following scenario? Christian woman, wonderful mother, adores her children, loves her close friends, but treats her husband horribly. The answer is obvious. She employs selective kindness.
The kindness of Christian love is to be freely given to all.
One more and we’ll call it a day, as we deal with something that love DOES NOT do.
Behavior of Love #3 – Love does not envy
Envy is a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck.
When unchecked, envy can cripple relationships. It breeds strife, enmity, and ill will.
Early in my radio career, I received a promotion to Program Director. Up until that day, I had lots of friends. After the announcement, one would have thought I had been afflicted with a communicable disease.
We’ve all experienced envious neighbors. The “keeping up with the Jones” syndrome. You buy a new car. They buy a better one. You put up your Christmas lights. They put up something bigger, brighter, and better.
When a friend, neighbor, or family member gets something better than you, how do you respond? Are you happy for their good fortune, or envious of their good fortune?
I know of a family of brothers and sisters who are very competitive. They got into a house building war. The buying and selling that resulted forced at least one of them into a financial bind from which they have never recovered.
If we are to love, as we should, then unchecked envy can be a hindrance.
Look no further than the Tenth Commandment for the importance of this instruction. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” (Exodus 20:17)
Affirmations on Avoiding Envy
- “I am proud of your success.”
- “I’m happy that you are doing well.”
- “I rejoice with you in your victories.”
- “I’m excited for you when you get new things that make you happy.”
- “Your joy is my joy.”
- “I want the best for you.”
Memorize these behaviors of love: (1) Love is patient. (2) Love is kind. (3) Love does not envy.
As you go about your day, keep repeating those thoughts in your mind. Apply the principles with everyone you meet. EVERYONE.
Reprinted from The Forever Notebook, Book 1 (January – March) Get your copy here: Paperback and eBook/Kindle formats.