Last Tuesday, we took a bit of a non-conventional look at the root of all relationship issues. The apostle Paul was encouraging the church of Corinth to put love on top – above natural ability (verse 1), spiritual giftedness (verse 2), and service (verse 3). We can still apply that same advice today. So let’s get back to the business of love, shall we?
Love does not act unbecomingly. This not acting out, or being rude in a more obvious sense. Consider how unbecoming it is to undermine the authority of a colleague at the office, or to make a disrespectful comment to your spouse in front of the children, or others outside the house. What about hanging up on a telemarketer because you’re tired of their disrespect for family time. That poor guy (or gal) is really just trying to put food on the table, just like you. Unbecoming.
Love is not self-seeking. I really didn’t even need to look up the greek word to understand that I fail miserably in this characteristic. Here, God is saying that His kind of love, agape, doesn’t consider itself as wise or (always) right. It doesn’t insist on having its own way. I always insist on having my own way. It’s my first and most natural tendency. This one right here is my thorn in the flesh! It keeps me on my knees—half the time groveling in apology to others, and half the time repenting and seeking deliverance from God! Help, Jesus.
Love is not easily provoked. God’s love is not easily angered or irritated. I think all manner of road rage would cease if people were a little less easily provoked. Don’t you? Road rage isn’t my struggle, but I do have a saying that rolls off my tongue with ease: “I’m annoyed.” Both of my teens have decided to help me identify how easily I get irritated. Not just with them, but with anyone or any situation. Yet another piece of evidence for my love problem.
Love keeps no record of being wronged. Consider the argument with your spouse over the eggshells in the sink this morning that ends up including the time he left you waiting at the car repair shop for over an hour after you called for help. Record keeping. If you’ve ever used the If-Then formula in deciding on a course of action: “If she wouldn’t have…then I would…”, you are keeping an account. Hint: keeping account suggests you are harboring unforgiveness.
Love finds no joy in unrighteousness. Acting in loves means you don’t take pleasure in another’s pain, especially when caused by injustice. Love doesn’t find happiness in injustice or treating others unjustly.
Love rejoices in truth. Love sympathizes in gladness and takes pleasure in the truth. Not one’s own truth, but the absolute, definitive truth, which means biblical truth.
Love bears all things. Bearing all is tough because it means covering the flaws and faults of another. It means warding off threats from the outside. When we feel hurt or wronged by another, the first thing we want to do is put them on blast. We want to broadcast the shortcomings of others while trying to bury our own. God’s love covers.
Love believes all things. If you’ve ever said of someone, “they’ll never change.” you are not believing all things. Believing all things implies a degree of vulnerability because it means maintaining faith in or being fully persuaded. When someone hurts us or continually lets us down, we lose faith in them—typically right before we lose hope…
Love hopes all things. Maintaining an endless expectation of good is the implication of this verse. Love is always looking for the good to prevail in any circumstance.
Love never fails. God’s kind of love is all encompassing. Agape. It’s affectionate, brotherly, benevolent, and goodwill. It’s unconditional. It doesn’t, at any time ever cease or fall under judgment. It never loses its power. Love, especially God’s love, always wins out.
Having taken a closer look, I have to admit it is true…I have a love problem. My love problem affects every relationship I have. My love problem has destroyed relationships I’ve once had. I can see it more clearly now.
I will still pray for more patience. I will still pray for more of a servants’ heart. I will still pray to be more sensitive to the needs of others, but above all, I will pray to love more—to agape. I will seek to look more like love—more like God.
God’s kind of love requires more than warm and fuzzy feelings, it requires bearing, believing, and hoping. It requires sacrifice and compassion. It requires His help! If you can learn to love others the way God loves, you will build stronger, deeper, and more impactful relationships in every sphere of your life.
Jude 1:21 says, “keep yourselves in the love of God as you wait for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring you into eternal life.” Our lives should be a display of God’s love.
So my friend, how is your love life? No, really. I would love to hear from you in the comments. In which area might you work on loving more like God?