“…patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Love never fails.”
(1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
The Greek word that Paul uses here for our English translation “love” is agape. The word Agape is always the word used for love when the Bible talks about God’s love toward us. It is especially pertinent because when the New Testament talks about God’s love for us, it is almost always in reference to the sacrificial love Jesus displayed at the cross. God gave His life for us (agape) and we are called to give our lives for others (agape). Agape love is a self-giving love that puts others before itself.
But what is self-giving love practically?
… patient (4a)
Patience. The virtue that stays calm without complaint or anger when provoked, annoyed, frustrated, encountering misfortune, delay, or hardship. Patience is an expression of love, especially when it comes to people. When they aren’t, you are. That is love. Remain calm when there is a whirlwind around you.
… kind (4b)
Friendliness. Warmth. Tender concern. That is the expression of kindness that radiates love. To show kindness is to be concerned about others and tenderly respond to their needs. Be friendly, be warm, and you will be kind.
… content (4c)
What I have, who I am, where I am, I am satisfied and happy. Contentment is an expression of love because it is satisfied with where it is at. It wants nothing but what it has. It wants to be no one other than who it is. To be content is to love; God, oneself, and others.
… modest (4d)
Love realizes that my abilities and achievements are due, at least in part, to the people around me and, at least in full, to the God who allowed them to be my abilities and my achievements. To love by being modest rightly gives credit where it is due, especially when the glory falls on itself.
… humble (4e)
Importance. Humility is about importance. Love expressed in humility thinks of itself less and of others more. Love that is humble estimates its own importance in a way that increases the value – and importance – of others. Love that is humble knows that whether or not it is glorified here on Earth, the God above should be given ultimate glory, importance, and honor anyways. Love that is humble lifts others up to new heights.
… polite (5a)
Respectful. Love that is shown through the act of being polite is a love that is respectful in word and deed to others. To be polite is to love, because politeness considers the feelings of others such that what it says and does reflects genuine respect of another. Polite words. Polite actions. These produce love.
… freeing (5b)
Freeing. Love is freeing. Instead of having to demand its own way, love allows “its way” to be deferred to others. Freedom to allow others to choose. Freedom to allow its decisions to not be followed through on. Freedom to be okay when its way is not honored, accomplished, or even respected. Freeing love demands nothing of its own.
… cheerful (5c)
Expressive. Cheerful love visibly expresses that it is happy and optimistic. In conjunction with contented love, cheerful love makes others know that it is satisfied, that it is full of joy, that it is happy. Cheerful love is noticeably positive towards itself, others, and, most importantly, God.
… forgiving (5d)
Forgiveness. This is the hallmark of love. Forgiving love overlooks the wrongs others commit against it by truly, from the heart, mind, strength, and soul, saying, “I do not hold what you did to me against you.” Forgiving love maintains a record of the good, right, pleasing things an individual has done, it does not maintain a record of the wrongs.
… truth-seeking (6)
Objectivity. Truth-seeking love is committed to what is true. Truths about others. Truths about the world. Truths about God. To love is to seek truth; to seek truth is to love. Truth-seekers love because they are aware of what is really going on in the world, rather than simply how they feel about what is going on in the world or around them. Love seeks truth in all things.
… strong (7a)
Like a cord of three strands is not easily broke, so, thus, is love. Love is strong. Strong love – or a love built on strength – has everything to do with durability. Love covers a multitude of sins because it is strong. Love binds together in unity because it is strong. Love is the name of our God because He is strong. Strong love is firmly rooted because it has been shaken, tossed, turned, ravaged, but has not broken.
… believing (7b)
Knowledge about God is not only taken as intellect, but as truth. Believing love gives the benefit of the doubt while always seeking out the truth. Believing love is accepting love though that accepting love does not mean it takes everything it hears as truth. Believing love honors the sincerity of a position with respect, seeks-truth, and places itself within the particular position pointed to by the evidence. It believes all things that are true.
… hopeful (7c)
We can do this. Hopeful love never gives up. Hopeful love acts on what it knows to be true. This kind of love says, “yes, Jesus, I will do what you say because I trust, with assurance, that what you say is the best.” This type of love hopes in the promises of God because they are true.
… enduring (7d)
Perseverance. Enduring love can take a beating, but it continues in patience, kindness, modesty, humility, gentleness, politeness, forgiveness, and truth-seeking contentment. Enduring love, literally, endures all things.
… perfect (8a)
God is perfect. God is love. Love is perfect. And perfect love casts out all fear, all anxiety, all impatience, all hopelessness, all unkindness, all discontentment, all wrongs, all evils, all pride, all weakness, all disbelief, all enslavement. Love is perfect because God is perfect. And you, if you have come to know Jesus Christ, have come to know perfect love. You know Jesus. You know perfect love. You are perfect.