Love is: (from I Cor 13:4-8a)
Patient: God is sovereignly in control of timing in your life and in the lives of others. I must realize that when I am impatient with others, I am really being impatient with God and in disagreement with Him over the schedule He has for the sanctification (or judgment) in this other person’s life. He brings other people across my path with their problems and thereby causes delays in my schedule so I can be part of His plan in their life. See the example of how Jesus dealt with interruptions in His life. It is good to see that God is offering you an opportunity to be a part of what He is doing in other people’s lives. That’s why He’s put those “delays” in my life. So,…to be impatient with others means you are impatient with God—a sign of a rebellious spirit.
Kind: Jesus said, “As you do unto the least of these my brethren, so you do unto me.” Be kind to others and you are being kind to the one who died for you. Be unkind to others and you are showing that you do not value the sacrifice Jesus made for you.
Not Jealous: Remember: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” I need to rejoice in the blessings the Lord has given others. It is for His glory that He has brought those blessings into their lives. If I am jealous of how He has blessed them, or ungrateful for His blessings in their lives, then I am caught wanting to put my glory ahead of His. Instead, rejoice in His kindness to others and be of the same mind as He is (a partner with Him) in rejoicing in His blessing of others.
Not Proud: This is not about me or my agenda; it’s about what God can do through me to bless the other person.
Not Arrogant: It is not about me being exalted, but about Jesus being exalted in the life of the other person. Please don’t get in God’s way here.
Does not Act Unbecomingly: Be gracious because God is gracious to you and to others. Be His partner in this. Don’t work against His methods.
It Does Not Seek Its [My] Own: This is not about me, this about what God is doing in the other person’s life. Find out how He is trying to bless them and hop on board His train to partner with Him. (Also: “It is not doing this out of a sense of duty or to feel good about oneself.”)
Is Not Provoked: This is a little warning bell: if it goes off, it means I’ve lost the focus of partnering with God to bless the other person.
Does Not Take Into Account A Wrong Suffered: Trials and tribulations are the way God wraps many of His gifts to us. They are part of the means by which He conforms us to the image of Christ through the fellowship of His suffering. In the same way that Joseph Tson says that a Christian is most powerful when he dies for the gospel, so you are more effective in spreading the gospel when you are wronged by others and you respond with the love of Christ. See these offenses as your friends—they are blessings from God (and they don’t need to remain disguised). God has allowed these into your life (remember He is sovereign) because He wants to share with you the extreme privilege of being His witness—don’t blow it!
Does Not Rejoice In Unrighteousness: Christ does not laugh at crude jokes; Jesus does not rejoice in the wrong done to others; our Loving Shepard does not enjoy sin—so why should you?
But Rejoices With The Truth: Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” When you rejoice in the truth, you are rejoicing in Jesus! When you exalt a lie (or deception), you are rejoicing in not being with Jesus. Walk with God—it’s a very high calling!
Bears All Things: Remember, “as you do unto the least of these My brethren, so you do unto Me.” If you give up on a sinner, you may be giving up just before victory and repentance. Jesus bears a lot from you and you’re already a Christian! He asks you to love others like He loves them—be His partner in this.
Believes All Things: You have a choice. You can treat people as they will be in glory, or you can treat people as they are now. Both are real. Jesus treats you as if you are already in glory with Him. If you are to be His partner in loving others, you will treat them the same way. (This is only irrational if you do not see the final outcome as God sees it.)
Hopes All Things: Kinda like “Believes all things” only this is an opportunity to focus even more on how the other person will look when they are perfected in Jesus in glory.
Endures All Things: God doesn’t give up on you even when the going gets VERY hard (sinful). He asks you to walk beside Him as He loves the other person and doesn’t give up on them, either.
Love Never Fails: I used to think this meant that I need to love this person for ever—meaning that if I really loved this guy at the store counter, I would become a permanent part of his life. Nope. I don’t think that’s what this means in a practical every day way. I think it is talking about the quality of the love I have for the other person—is it of eternal quality? I think it is talking about the perseverance I have to love the other person—will my love fail when it is REALLY tested? God wants to give us a love for others that does not fail when it is REALLY tested.
Note: After thinking about this list in I Cor 13:4-8a, doesn’t it seem that love is not directed by emotion, but it is more walking by faith as a partner with God watching what He is doing and partnering along side Him doing it with Him (in a spirit of great rejoicing)? We love by walking in His Spirit—there is no other way (and by the way, this is why a non-Christian can’t really love someone with this kind of love: they can’t see what God is doing and they don’t have the power to partner with Him in doing it).