A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
John 13:34 (NIV)
The world is going to give you thousands of definitions for love. My favorite, however, will always be the Bible’s definition. As the verse above states, God wants us to love others the way He loves us. And God’s love for us differs a great deal compared to how we as humans tend to love. His is what’s called an ‘agape’ love. It originates from God Himself. It’s a love so deep, so meaningful, so true that there isn’t anything you can do for Him to stop loving you. It’s so generous that it keeps giving despite all our screw-ups.
We as people tend to love in a more earthly manner. It’s based on others’ behavior towards us, their actions in general, their familiarity, and so on. It’s a very shallow love because it can vanish as soon as someone messes up. It’s based on feelings. God’s love on the other hand will always love, no matter what, no matter how He is feeling about what we did. So, as the verse in John indicates, we should love with a love like God’s.
To know what kind of love that is and what kind of traits it carries, we turn our attention to 1. Corinthians 13, the love chapter. A very familiar chapter, often used, and rightfully so. It gives us a list of all that love is and below you’ll find some of those traits.
Love is patient.
Right off the bat you’re given patience, a trait that I’ve never quite mastered. I think I’ve grown to be more patient over the years, but the entirety of it is still short. I believe that gaining patience needs practice like everything else. For example, if you keep putting yourself in situations where it requires you to have patience, time and time again, eventually it will help you grow more patient.
Love does not boast.
You just got a new car. First thing you do? Post about 30 pictures of it on the internet…now, I don’t know if you could consider this boasting but it comes pretty close. If you keep talking about how much better your washer operates compared to all the other washers in the world, or if you can’t stop babbling about how your cookies always turn out so perfectly IF you bake them in YOUR oven, I’d say, stop! It’s great to be grateful, but you can overdo it by telling people how great you or your belongings are compared to theirs.
Love is not rude.
This should be a given. Being rude to someone will in no way bring out a positive vibe.
Love is not easily angered.
Definitely a problem for many, including myself. Being easily angered is what I do, and it bugs me that life’s little problems have such a bad affect on me. Learning to control that anger, I like to go with the saying, “Count to 10 before you do anything!” And it works…most of the time. The times it doesn’t work, go into your room and punch your pillow for 10 minutes. Works too!
Love keeps no record of wrongs.
If you’re in the middle of a discussion with your friend, spouse, or family member, and you bring up how they wronged you 5 years ago just to prove your point, you’re holding onto the past and keeping record of how they wronged you, and that’s not fair.
How would you feel if every time you did something right, God would tell you, “Sure, that’s great, but remember the time you (insert what ever you did wrong)?” Keeping record of wrongs isn’t what God does. After you’ve asked for forgiveness, He throws that wrong away and forgets about it. And that’s what we should do, too.
Love never fails.
True love never stops trying. God will always love you, through all your screw-ups, and we should do the same for the people in our lives. Logically, this won’t go over to well in our minds, but it’s the right thing to do. If God can forgive the people that hung His son on the cross, love them even, than how petty is it if we can’t forgive the people that hurt us in much milder ways?
Love fights to the death. We, as humans, won’t always be able to love as perfectly as God loves because we all mess up sometimes. But if we stop trying, we’re saying that it’s not worth it. We’re saying that we’re not worth it, others aren’t worth it, and God isn’t worth it. And I don’t think that you want something that negative in your life! I know that you want to succeed while you’re in this world, and in order to do that, you’re going to need to have love.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.